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Ever since the funding for SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, was effectively killed in the 1994 federal budget that cancelled the High Resolution Microwave Survey and terminated NASA’s SETI efforts, SETI has been reduced to looking through the results of other projects such as the volunteer distributed computing project, SETI@home.  That is until now!

 

Through the formation of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner has just given SETI $100 million.

 Over the next ten years, the new initiative will be hiring prime observing time on the world’s premiere telescopes.  The telescopes to be used are 50 times more sensitive than the best previously used for SETI. They’ll also be scanning 10 times more of the sky, over 5 times more of the radio spectrum – and they’ll be doing it more than 100 times faster.

The initiative was announced by Milner on July 20th 2015 in London at The Royal Society, where he was joined by physicist Stephen Hawking, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, SETI research pioneer Frank Drake, UC Berkeley astronomy professor Geoff Marcy and postdoctoral fellow Andrew Siemion, and foundation chairman Peter Worden.

With all this new activity, who knows wat SETI will find.  Let’s hope someone is working on a universal translator so we will have it ready when SETI gets that signal from some strange new world.

 

 

You read that right, a company in Japan called Cyberdyne has created a powered exoskeleton called HAL.  But unlike its fictional namesake, this company is a venture firm which was established by Dr. Yoshiyuki Sankai, of the University of Tsukuba, Japan, in order to materialize his idea to utilize “Cybernics” for the benefits of humankind in such fields as medicine, caregiving, welfare, labor, heavy works, and entertainment.

 

HAL® (Hybrid Assistive Limb®) is the world‘s first cyborg-type robot, by which a wearer‘s bodily functions can be improved, supported and enhanced. Wearing of HAL® leads to a fusion of “man”, “machine” and “information”. HAL® assists a physically challenged person to move and enables him or her to exert bigger motor energy than usual. HAL® is also considered as the system that accelerates a motor learning of cerebral nerves.

 

The demonstration video is amazing, but I wonder, had Christopher Reeve had access to HAL would Superman be turned into The Terminator?

 

 

 

 

By harnessing the power of light and oxygen, Carbon3D has created a new 3D printing process that is between 25-100 times faster than traditional 3D printing.  Unlike traditional 3D printers which print the object layer by layer, Carbon3d’s Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP) allows for the printing of a true 3D object.

 

Just like Michelangelo, who is famous for saying, “The best artist has that thought alone which is contained within the marble shell; the sculptor's hand can only break the spell to free the figures slumbering in the stone.” The CLIP technology works by harnessing the power of light and oxygen to cure a photosensitive resin.  In other words, a projector beams the image to be printed into the pool of photosensitive resin.  Then, oxygen is introduced in the unneeded areas.  The oxygen creates dead zones which prevent the resin from curing in the unneeded areas and like Michelangelo; the build platform frees the printed object fully formed from the liquid. 

 

As Dr. Joseph DeSimone, CEO and Co-Founder, Carbon3D said, “Current 3D printing technology has failed to deliver on its promise to revolutionize manufacturing.  Our CLIP technology offers the game-changing speed, consistent mechanical properties and choice of materials required for complex commercial quality parts.” 

 

 

The recent Star Wars Celebration had plenty of intriguing factoids.  So that desert planet featured in Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens is not Tatooine, after all. It’s Jakku.  Further, we learned that the soccer ball like droid, BB-8, is not a CG character.  Like R2D2, BB-8 is a real remote controlled robot.

 

Recently, we investigated what it would take for robots to develop into our robot companions seen in such films as Star Wars.  The fact that BB-8 is a practical prop indicates to me, that we are all closer to one day having a droid.

 

It turns out BB-8 was created by a company called Sphero.  The startup, headed by CEO Paul Berberian, was selected for Disney’s accelerator program last year, along with nine other companies. According to Disney’s website, the three-month-long program picks tech startups who want to “make an impact on the world of media and entertainment,” giving them upwards of $120,000 in investment capital. It also matches each startup with a mentor from within Disney’s executive ranks. In this case, Sphero’s mentor was Bob Iger. When Mr. Iger saw Sphero’s technology in action, he realized the potential application for BB-8 and connected the startup with the masterminds of the Star Wars characters.

 

BB-8 however is no mere remote controlled robot.  This droid takes their app controlled robot ball to the next level.   BB-8 moves so quickly, that people were convinced it had to be a CG character till it made it’s in person appearance.  I will admit when I first saw BB-8 in the trailer I thought it was a bit goofy but after seeing it interact on stage, I can see the personality the puppeteer was able to bring out of the brief performance.  BB-8 is truly a worthy addition to the droids of Star Wars, and since the company that made him is also in the business of making robot toys, it doesn’t take the force to see that one day soon we will all have a BB-8 droid of our very own.