Archive for May, 2009

The Bionic Eye

At the dawn of the 21st century many thousands of people worldwide have cause for hope Science has already started to provide the first advanced prosthetic devices to replace those that were lost in tragic accidents or were defective or missing since birth. Today we explore one such organ –The Bionic eye.

This is an incredible clip from the discovery Channel’s documentary – The Human Body: Pushing the Limits documenting the development of a bionic eye. A blind woman has been implanted with devices inside the visual cortex. Electrodes transmit information from a video camera directly to her brain allowing her to see images.

Yet, we still have a long way to go before science and technology can match the awesome handiwork of evolution and perfect or surpass the ones that most of us are fortunate to possess.

You can find this and many other fascinating news stories at 2100 Science.Com

Bionic Eye interfaced with the Visual Cortex of the Brain

Ohh dear, Prince Charles is going to be our king?

I’m a proud monarchist, but if Charles keeps this up I might jump ship. Have a read of his lefty rant. Here are a few highlights:

The first is urgency. There is now only a mercifully small (if vociferous) number of people who do not accept the science of climate change and who should know better, but there are still a great many who fail to recognise the urgency of the situation……..

In our human-centred world, with its emphasis on economics, and following decades of apparently unending material “progress”, it has become all too easy for us to believe that we can continue to take what we wish from natural systems on the assumption they will indefinitely replenish themselves. As we are discovering, in the real world it doesn’t quite work like that…..

Thanks to twitter James Patterson for the news.

Wise Latina woman

President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor had this to say in 2001: : “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

Which is a good excuse as any for me to post a picture of famous Latina woman, Salma Hayek:

Destination Mars – The Next Logical Step?

The Mars Underground is a documentary that I came across yesterday. It is wonderfully concise and outlines the arguments within the space advocacy community concerning the next logical step in humanity’s quest to explore and eventually settle the high frontier of space. But, is a mission to Mars really the next logical step as we enter the second phase of the Space Age?

At the dawn of the 21st century, space agencies in Europe and America are making plans to land the first humans on Mars. But manned missions to the red planet have been proposed before. For some Mars holds the answers to mankind’s future in space. Others say Mars is too far, too dangerous and too expensive for humans to explore. And in a world torn by troubles, some say there’s no need or will for mankind to reach into space anymore.

Thirty seven years after the last Apollo astronaut walked on the moon, American manned space program seems to have lost its way, unable to reach beyond even low-earth orbit. With the tragic loss of the crew aboard the space shuttle Columbia, a debate has begun. Astronautical engineer Dr. Robert Zubrin has been arguing for years that sending humans to Mars is the mission the space program needs.

I have tremendous respect for Bob Zubrin but, I must respectively disagree. I firmly believe humankind must and will eventually settle the red planet and transform it to a blue and green oasis for life. But, as I have argued elsewhere in these pages the next logical step in humanity’s settlement of the high frontier of space is to return to the Moon – this time to stay. Returning to the Moon with the aim of eventually harnessing its vast mineral and energy resources will be the essential first step in ensuring humanity’s permanent presence in space and demonstrating the vast economic potential that space holds for humankind’s future. Only after we build the vitally important infrastructure necessary to achieve this aim closer to home can we then press onward and outward to Mars, the rest of the solar system and to the stars. If we truly want to become a spacefaring civilization we must first develop and settle our remarkable natural space station –The Moon.

The space program must prove itself to be “economical sustainable and politically justifiable”. A return to the Moon with the aim of developing its vast mineral and energy wealth will provide the corner stone in creating a space program fully geared to help the United States and the World confront and meet the challenges of the political, economic, environmental and strategic realities of the 21st century.

As NASA and the new administration in Washington review the current state of America’s space program and the way ahead it is vital that all concerned send their own input and air their views concerning the road that must be taken. I already did this last July prior to the presidential election and welcome your comments and suggestions.

The Mars Underground

Evolution – The Sexual Revolution

The sexual revolution did not begin in the 1960s with flower power or with the slogan “make love and not war”. The vanguard of the sexual revolution weren’t the hippies who “wore flowers in their hair” that Scott McKenzie immortalized in his generational anthem, “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)”. Rather sex can trace its humble beginnings to the true pioneers of the Sexual Revolution – the cyanobacteria and other eukaryotes at the dawn of evolutionary history.

The advent of sex may not have begun with the first micro orgasm but, it was no less earth moving.

With advent of sexual reproduction, some one and half billion years ago, life on Earth took a major evolutionary leap. Until then evolution was agonizingly slow. Before life stumbled on sex as a reproductive strategy new varieties of organisms could only arise from the accumulation of random mutations – the selection of a few typographical errors, letter by letter, in life’s genetic code. With the invention of sex, two organisms could now exchange whole paragraphs, pages and books of their DNA code, and thus evolution could proceed at a faster pace.

In evolutionary terms, sex is more important than life itself. Sex fuels evolutionary change by adding variation to the gene pool. The powerful urge to pass our genes on to the next generation has likely changed the face of human culture in ways we are only now beginning to fully understand.

Today on Discovery Enterprise we continue our year long celebration of the life and work of the naturalist Charles Darwin and the epic story of life on Earth with the fifth installment of the landmark PBS television series “Evolution” – Why Sex.

Cheaper broadband on the way

Great! Looks like we are going to get cheaper broadband and done through competition not government action:

INTERNET costs could be halved thanks to a massive cable linking Australia’s eastern seaboard to the rest of the world.

Pipe Networks’ first international broadband cable, dubbed PPC-1, landed in Sydney last week.

The $200 million cable, stretching 4787km, runs from Collaroy on Sydney’s north shore to Guam and then branches off into other major countries.

The PPC-1 is the first international internet cable to be owned independently of the country’s big telcos.

Once completed, the pipe is set to increase the size of Australia’s international link by almost 50 per cent, and send internet prices tumbling….

Might finally get off dial up.

“Apollo 11: Remastered” – An Orbiter Film

The versatility of the Orbiter Space Simulator continues to amaze me. I first wrote about this free space simulator program in my article “For All You Armchair Astronauts“. Here is another awe inspiring film made by TexFilms using Orbiter.

In “Apollo 11: Remastered” we can all vicariously embark on the epic voyage of Apollo 11 from launch to splashdown and relive this grand adventure. This film is a remake of TexFilms original Apollo 11 release featuring Orbiter Space Flight Simulator and AMSO Apollo addon.

“Apollo 11: Remastered” – An Orbiter Film