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Water on Asteroids

For decades, scientists have been trying to answer questions relating to outer space such as: ‘Is there any sign of life out there in the universe’ or ‘Is there water on other planets?’ Most scientists believe that presence of water on a planet signals life, which is true for Earth. Thus, the fact that NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex, which is 12 miles away from asteroid Bennu and millions of miles away from Earth, has found evidence of water on the asteroid is an exciting discovery. Here is the full story.

OSIRIS-REx’s

This spacecraft was sent out into space 2 years ago in order to study asteroid Bennu in more detail. Now it is getting closer and closer to the asteroid. NASA has stated that their estimates about Bennu’s rotation, size and orbit were correct. The only estimate they were not right about was the large boulder at the south side of Bennu. NASA’s observations had suggested that the boulder was only 10 meters (33 feet) in height, but OSIRIS-REx has confirmed that is it is about 50 meters (164 feet) in height.

How Has NASA Determined That There Is Water Present On The Asteroid?

The pair of spectrometers carried by the OSIRIS-REx has the ability to characterize molecules that are present on Bennu. The OSIRIS-Rex Thermal Emission Spectrometer (OTES) and OSIRIS-REx Visible and Infrared Spectrometer (OVIRS) helped NASA discover evidence that Bennu did previously contain water. The scans showed molecules called hydroxyls that are a composition on oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Thus NASA’s team working on the OSIRIS-REx mission, who are led by Dante Lauretta, professor of planetary science and Cosmo chemistry, have determined that the hydroxyls that are spread all over Bennu contain water-bearing clay minerals. Dante Lauretta stated that there is “strong, convincing evidence that the surface is dominated by these hydrated minerals,” which means it is water-rich, and this is a huge discovery.

What This Discovery Means

This does not by any means imply that Bennu is inhabitable, as it is extremely cold and that there is no current evidence of liquid water present on Bennu. There is probably no liquid water on the asteroid as it is too small of an area to be able to contain any sort of liquid. The likely explanation given for the water sources found on the asteroid is that Bennu probably interacted previously with water from a larger asteroid or host planet.

Future Plans

Of course, this discovery has led to excitement and anxiousness amongst the scientists working on the OSIRIS-REx mission, who want to be able to see the asteroid more closely and hopefully collect a sample as well. It is scheduled that the OSIRIS-REx will be as close as 1.4 kilometres (0.87 miles) from Bennu, orbiting around the surface, on the 31st of December this year. Also, in around 18 months, the OSIRIS-REx will start to approach the surface to attempt taking a sample of Bennu. The sample will be taken by the 10-foot robot arm the spacecraft will use to scoop up materials from the surface. OSIRIS-REx can collect up to 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of sampling material from the asteroid. If everything happens as planned, NASA’s team predicts that the sample will arrive at earth by September of 2023.

Discoveries like these makes one feel  grateful for innovative technologies, as they is being used for discovery and to gain knowledge about the world and universe at large.

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Surgical Advances

Luckily, due to the advancement of technology and scientific research, our methods of medical treatment is now proving to be revolutionary. Here is how modern surgical advances are predicted to take place in the future-starting now.

Surgery Bots?

Breakthroughs are being made left, right, and centre in the world of science. From autonomous killer robots to sending space crafts on mars, technology is helping us find solutions to issues and questions people have had for centuries. And now in the world of medicine, a report by England’s Royal College of Surgeons may have made traditional surgery obsolete. In the groundbreaking report, the surgeons have highlighted the ways evolving technologies, such as new vaccines, surgical robots, and artificial intelligence will be used in shaping the future of medicine. The predictions say that these technologies will take over in the next two decades.

No Need For Surgery?

Modern surgery and medicines have allowed some operations to become less invasive and more precise. The surgeons’ report is taking modern medicine a step further by making most surgical operations obsolete.

The future of medicine also takes advantage of stem cells. The report by England’s Royal College of Surgeons explains that regenerative medications and stem cell treatments could be used to treat heart conditions and circumvent the need for open heart surgery. The report also predicts that stem cell treatments could possibly be used for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

What This Report Entails

Overall, less invasive procedures result in safer procedures. Safer procedures mean less room for error and more efficient surgery, reducing recovery time. It’s a great accomplishment for the medical sector and may seriously help to improve the lives of those struggling with life threatening illnesses.

Laser Cannon

The arms race may be escalating quite quickly and intensely, after the public acknowledgment that Russia has developed missiles and laser weapons that are ready for service, Russia posted a video in July 2018 which showcased a laser death weapon, and they have recently announced that it has officially entered service. Here is all you need to know about the Peresvet Combat Laser System, which is essentially a laser cannon, and how Russia plans on using it.

The Peresvet Combat Laser

Just recently, Russia announced that the Peresvet Combat Laser System has officially entered service and now has been permanently installed. The inspiration for the name Peresvet comes from the ancient Russian monk warrior named Alexander Peresvet. The video that Russia released back in July, which openly shows the unveiling of the laser, is said to be able to obliterate targets in a fraction of a second. Not much else is known about the laser cannon itself and thus, many people have speculated that it will not be used to kill people, but will actually be used for defence against enemy missiles and airplanes. It definitely looks like it is straight out of a movie though.

A Boastful Putin

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia has been boasting about this laser cannon/death ray by saying, “Russia’s capacities for defending itself have multiplied.” Putin also boasted about the fact that laser weaponry, “is not just a concept or a plan any more. It is not even in the early production stages. Since last year, our troops have been armed with laser weapons.” He also taunted those against Russia in the arms race that, “We are one step ahead of our rivals,”

Is This The Start Of A Whole New Arms Race?

The implications of this cannon are far more deadly than they might seem. The death machine of which we do not even know the full details of will probably be used for more than just defence. The US is now threatening to pull out of the INF treaty as they claim the development of this laser cannon violates the treaty. However, Russia is retaliating and saying they are following all the conditions specified in the treaty. Putin also showed his concern over the fact that the New START pact between the US and Russia will expire in 2021 and that the US is not keen on discussing the future of the pact.

Real or Fake?

Some have even speculated that this laser cannon is not all that it is hyped up to be. The speculations stem from the fact that the laser cannon was announced during a press conference that was also hosting the launch of many other overly-hyped weapons. People also claim that Russia has previously lied or not been completely honest about their new technologies and that there is no evidence whether the cannon actually works as it claims to (since the video never showed it firing).

All we can hope for is that Russia and America stay true to their agreement and talk it out before deciding to fire on each other.

Home Surveillance

If you think that scientific exploration has covered every aspect of our lives, well think again! Traditional home surveillance methods normally include locks and maybe an alarm system and cameras. Well, Alex Pachikov, ex Evernote executive and CEO of Sunflower Labs seems to think there is quite a lot of room for improvement. Here is how the Sunflower system may be innovating the way we secure our homes.

Cute Name, Disturbing Game?

The name for the company (Sunflower Labs) and its products (the Sunflower sensors and the Bee drones) are all inspired by things we find in the garden. That may seem very cute, but their functions, which are autonomous, may be disturbing for some. With all the privacy scandals against big companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Google, some may think it is not wise to leave our home surveillance to autonomous machines.

The Sunflower sensors that are camouflaged as garden lights are built to detect vibrations near the home and can differentiate between the whir of your coffee machine, pets, and footsteps. The ‘Sunflowers’ around all corners of the ground outside the home so that it can create maps and also sense the people and objects present within the space. The kicker, however, is that the sunflower system includes a drone, named the ‘Bee,’ which flies out from its station called the ‘Hive,’ all by itself. The Bee leaves the Hive and flies around the home if any suspicious activity has been discovered, using the Sunflowers that have been installed to establish a pathway. Moreover, it uses the sensors and built-in cameras in order to avoid any object that may come in the way during flight.  It streams live footage on your tablet or phone, which is automatically saved on the cloud system later on. It can be manually deployed if the homeowner gets an alert from the Sunflower sensors and lands. The homeowner will have to press the relevant button in the Sunflower app, signalling the drone to dock all by itself to the Hive, which also works as a wireless charger.

Image: sunflower-labs.com

Who Can Use This?

It is evident that such a sophisticated home surveillance product would not be affordable to the general public. The CEO says that the Sunflower Labs will soon be offering this device on a subscription base to the wealthy homeowners residing in the suburbs of California. It may become affordable for the general public if the costs get subsidized, but for now only the elite can afford this system. This arrangement works for Sunflower Labs, as the Federal Aviation Administration does not allow drones to be flown out in public. Thus, lawn owners in suburban areas are the suitable target audience for this system.

Can It Be Trusted?

With the recent allegations of smart home devices listening to and recording conversations without obtaining permission, hacking of several accounts, and the leak of private information, it may not be the best option to trust technology to maintain our privacy.

Self-Driving Deliveries

Just a decade ago, we never could have imagined the existence of technologically driven services available to us today like Spotify, Uber, Snapchat, Virtual Reality, Instagram, Airbnb and even Google Chrome. And now, they are a part of our everyday life. Being able to easily order clothes, taxis and food using a smartphone has become the norm, and people are spending less time at shopping centres and grocery stores. But for those who really do not want any human interaction, even when receiving their order, are now in luck. Self-driving delivery services are becoming a reality!

What Are Self-Driving Delivery Services And When Will They Be Available?

Many companies have been working on autonomous vehicles for quite a while now. In recent years, certain companies have been working hard to make self-driving delivery services a norm. From Nuro that already have a working model, to Ford that has teamed up with Walmart and Postmates to deliver everyday groceries to customers at affordable prices. Self-delivery services are deliveries that are made using autonomous vehicles. No drivers, just the goods you want. Ford has been testing using a research vehicle that mimics autonomous vehicles to gather more info about customer preferences. Ford has stated that commercial autonomous vehicles will be available by 2021.

The Benefits Offered By Autonomous Vehicles

Besides being able to conveniently get goods delivered to your home, workplace or sent as a gift to someone without the hassles of dealing with a delivery driver, or having to shop for it yourself, there are many potential benefits that autonomous vehicles offer. One such benefit is reduced costs for stores, as they will not have to hire drivers. Another benefit is that it could be potentially safer, as someone who is home alone and is ordering from a store could meet a potential predator when dealing with delivery personnel. Also, for people who have severe social anxiety, they will not have to contact a delivery driver when ordering groceries, or have to go out to do their grocery shopping either. The same goes for those who are suffering from a contagious illness. Autonomous vehicles would lead to less humans driving on the roads, potentially reducing the risk of injury and death due to accidents.

The Potential Dangers Posed By Autonomous Vehicles

Besides the ‘technology becoming smart enough to come alive and kill people’ scenario from terminator coming true, there are some realistic dangers that autonomous vehicles pose. Firstly, they could lead to unemployment with stores opting for self-deliveries rather than hiring deliverymen. It may also lead to excessive social anxiety and laziness, and people will really not need to leave their homes in order to get something, but would rather just avail the services of an AV to get the job done.

Self-driving cars have been a popular subject of conversation for many years, but the fact that now companies have already launched, or are ready to launch, autonomous vehicles just tells us how much technology has advanced, and how much we rely on technology to live our life.

Autonomous Killer Robots

The terminator movies are no longer fictitious work, because the storyline is being followed through in reality. That vision of killer robots taking over the planet due to the artificial intelligence they possess may not completely be coming true. However, machines that have decision-making capabilities with lethal consequences are already being tested in parts of the world. Autonomous killer robots are a real thing and here is why we should all be worried.

Advanced AI In The Hands Of The Superpowers

Just four years ago, Stephen Hawking warned everyone that, ‘the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race…. It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.’ And with the superpowers all investing in autonomous weaponry, it is frightening to think of the consequences that could prevail in the near future. The US Department of Defense already displayed 103 autonomous drones flying over the state of California. Even though they were not armed, they flew without any human input, reaching their destination automatically with the algorithms set. Weaponry with differing degrees of self-sufficiency actually being upgraded and used by those who have a high-tech military, including China, the US, Russia, the UK, Germany, South Korea and Israel. Countries such as China are completely silent regarding their position on LAWs (lethal autonomous weapons), and others are vague, which is quite a frightening thing to think about.

The Unfathomable Dangers of Autonomous Killer Robots

The saying that, ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,’ is effectively becoming less and less true. The dangers that autonomous killer robots pose are terrifying, consider they can quite easily come true. The terminator situation that even Hawking has warned us about where AI becomes self-sufficient and kills everyone is a possibility people dismiss as fiction. Another event that could happen is if the wrong people got hold of these technologies, or if they were hacked, they could be used to obliterate entire areas. World War III has also become quite the possibility, with autonomous killer robots aiding nuclear weaponry to eliminate countries. It could also be used to target innocent people who may be speaking against an agenda. It is completely unfair to use autonomous weapons for security as innocent people could lose their lives, and could not have the chance for a fair trial, or rehabilitation.

Campaigns to Stop Killer Robots

International campaigns such as Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has been urging countries to talk about banning autonomous weapons since 2013. Just by banning two functions involved in autonomous weapons such as automatically selecting targets and using violent techniques can really save the world from the potential horrors of autonomous killer robots, without hampering researchers’ advancement in AI technologies.

It is important to make people aware that killer robots are a very real problem, which has already become possible. Our lives will completely change in unimaginable ways once autonomous killer robots are used by governments for wars and security purposes.