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An Improved Version Of Uranium Hydrides Could Be Superconducting At Room Temperature

An Improved Version Of Uranium Hydrides Could Be Superconducting At Room Temperature.
A superconductor is a material that electricity can flow through without losing energy along the way. It’s a material with no resistance, it doesn’t diminish an electric current as the current passes through it. The microscopic structure of a superconductor is like an open highway, letting electrons travel through the material with ease.

That means they can conduct electricity more efficiently than any other material. Imagine, electricity buzzing along superconducting wires without losing any energy to. But these materials don’t just get their powers from their particular microscopic structure. They also have to be really, really cold many hundreds of negative degrees Celsius.

If we could use superconductors in electronics, those devices would theoretically run at perfect or near perfect efficiency. They would output the same amount of energy that’s put into them. That would be super useful, you can imagine, when trying to get electricity into your home.

The main issue for achieving supper-conductivity is to cool the temperature of the material down to fricking near 0 Kelvin. So far, the material that’s achieved superconductivity closest to room temperature is a rare hydrogen sulphur compound that maintains its properties at up to steamy -70 degrees Celsius. But that’s only because it was at a pressure over a million times the one we comfortably live at. Bu, Despair not, An exciting new research project has unveiled new materials that get us closer to the goal of superconductors that we could use in real life at room temperature and pressure.

Scientists have experimentally confirmed the existence of strange new uranium compounds and they predict some could even achieve superconductivity close to room temperature. These new compounds are what's known as uranium hydrides - a mix of uranium and hydrogen.

Until recently, the only example of this species of the molecule was uranium trihydride (UH3) which once played a vital role in nuclear experiments in the 1940s. Now we can add a few more to the list, including UH5, UH6, UH7, UH8, UH9, U2H13 and U2H17.

To create them, a team of researchers from the US, Russia, and China applied pressure of up to 5 million atmospheres to a mixture of uranium and hydrogen, whipping up a generous assortment of uranium hydrides that have never been seen before. Slowly stepping up the pressure, the researchers successfully created a total of 14 new uranium hydride compounds, some in multiple phases.

Their creation is more than academic. Chunky metal hydrides like these could potentially unlock the secrets of high-temperature superconductivity.

"The two highlights of our results are that high pressure produces an amazingly rich collection of hydrides, most of which do not fit into classical chemistry," says fellow MIPT researcher Artem Oganov. "And that these hydrides can actually be obtained and become superconducting at very low pressures, perhaps even at atmospheric pressure."

"After H3S was discovered, scientists started eagerly searching for superconducting hydrides in other non-metals," says Ivan Kruglov from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT).

As promising as non-metal hydrides are, there is a good reason to think metal hydrides shouldn't be overlooked. Physicists from MIPT and Skoltech in Russia applied an algorithm to the actinide series of elements to determine which of those might form stable hydrides.

The team has since turned their attention to uranium, suspecting hydrides made of this chunky element could also become superconductors without the need for enormous pressure. While the idea looked good on paper, this is the first time they've been able to show the compounds can actually exist and behaved as predicted. Importantly, they showed signs of superconducting under much lower pressures than other compounds.

"Our study showed that metal hydrides hold as much potential as non-metals in terms of high-temperature superconductivity," says Kruglov. To be clear, this doesn't mean we've cracked the secret to superconductivity. Not by a long shot. The warmest any of these new hydrides can transfer a current without resistance is still a prohibitively low –219 degrees Celsius (-362 Fahrenheit).

The team thinks they can push up the temperature by doping the material with other additives and potentially bring down the pressure even further to something far more reasonable.

But the real end goal is to develop a better understanding of how different materials manage the mind-boggling feat of effort-free conductivity in order to construct the ideal superconductor. It is slow going deciphering superconductor's secrets. But the end result will be worth it.

Several cities in Japan, Korea, and China already use superconducting technology in MagLev trains. These trains can reach super high speeds because there’s no friction of the train on the track because the train is floating ABOVE the track.

Facing Your Fears Can Help You Conquer Them, But How?

Facing Your Fears Can Help You Conquer Them, But How?
You may have heard that facing your fears is the best way to conquer them. As it turns out, this is actually pretty scientific advice and is the basis for a technique called exposure therapy. This kind of therapy has been used in some form or another since the 1950s and it’s designed to help people overcome intense fears and anxieties by exposing them to whatever they’re afraid of. While that might sound totally counter-intuitive, it’s all based on some pretty basic and well-tested psychology.

Exposure therapy is a psychological treatment that was developed to help people confront their fears. When people are fearful of something, they tend to avoid the feared objects, activities or situations. Although this avoidance might help reduce feelings of fear in the short term, over the long term it can make the fear become even worse. In such situations, a psychologist might recommend a program of exposure therapy in order to help break the pattern of avoidance and fear. In this form of therapy, psychologists create a safe environment in which to “expose” individuals to the things they fear and avoid. The exposure to the feared objects, activities or situations in a safe environment helps reduce fear and decrease avoidance. 

In general, there’s nothing wrong with being afraid. After all, fear is a big part of what’s kept humans around for so long. But people with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or phobias experience extreme levels of fear that make it difficult to live their lives. Exposure therapy is designed to help people overcome those kinds of debilitating fear. It’s centred on the idea that fears can be learned and unlearned.

This is related to a concept in psychology called conditioning specifically, Classical or Pavlovian conditioning. It was named after famous experiments done by Ivan Pavlov in the 1890s and it involves a stimulus becoming associated with a specific outcome.

In Pavlov’s experiments, dogs learned that whenever someone rang a bell, they got food. So they came to associate the bell with food and developed a positive reaction to it. In that case, they salivated in anticipation of being fed. Other experiments showed that this type of conditioning can be true for negative stimuli, too Like, if someone is bitten by a dog, they might associate dogs with pain and fear and develop a phobia of them.

These results have been duplicated in tons of experiments over the years, but what’s most important for exposure therapy is that these associations can also be extinguished, or unlearned, through conditioning.

So if someone with a phobia of dogs had repeated exposure to the animals without being bitten, their link between dogs and pain would likely disappear. This process is the same no matter where the association comes from, too.

So no matter where someone learned to fear something, facing their fear in a controlled environment can still help them extinguish it. That’s a big part of what exposure therapy is based on controlled-safe fear extinguishing. It’s about either teaching someone to overcome a fear or to manage and process their anxieties in a more helpful way.

There are a few different types of this therapy, and the exposure part can take several forms. For one, a fear can either be imagined or experienced in vivo, meaning in real life. Some fears, like fear of spiders, are safe for in vivo exposure. Others, like the fear of combat that some veterans experience, typically aren’t safe and practical to repeat in real life, so these rely on imagined or even virtual reality exposure. 

There are also different strategies for how much and how fast to expose patients to their fears. Most exposure therapy involves what’s called graded exposure or starting small and gradually ramping up. Often, it begins with imagined exposures and advances to in vivo.

For example, a therapist might guide a patient in thinking about a spider, and in performing relaxation techniques like slow breathing to manage their fear response. Then, when the imaginary spider doesn’t cause fear anymore, the patient will look at a real spider behind glass. Eventually, they might move from looking at the spider without glass to potentially touching and holding it.

Another technique is called flooding. Unlike graded exposure, it involves facing the most feared scenario all at once. While this is much scarier for the patient at first, if performed correctly, it also results in them realizing they don’t need to respond to their fears in such an extreme way. However, because this is more difficult for both the patient and the psychologist, graded exposure therapy is used most often.

Of course, like all types of therapies, exposure therapy isn’t equally helpful for everyone. In some cases with phobias and PTSD, it’s even been reported to make fears worse. Scientists speculate that this might happen if the therapy isn’t performed correctly, or for long enough. Also, in general, it’s especially difficult to treat social anxiety with exposure therapy although it has helped plenty of people.

It isn’t clear why social anxiety is harder, but it could be because social interactions happen every day. This means it’s more difficult to isolate and control the severity of interactions, which is necessary for patients to process their fears.

Overall, though, exposure therapy is highly effective, and this has been shown by numerous studies. Like, one 2010 meta-analysis of 13 different studies examining 675 total patients with PTSD found that 86% showed significant improvement after exposure therapy. A 2007 meta-analysis of 300 patients across 21 studies reported similar success in treating specific phobias.

While it’s most commonly used to treat PTSD and phobias, exposure therapy has also been shown to effectively treat panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Research is even showing that virtual reality therapy is just as effective as in vivo exposure. Which could be a big deal for people who can’t safely face their fears in real life.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should rush out to the woods and find a spider to expose your arachnophobic friend to. Like other kinds of therapy, exposure therapy is meant to be done by a trained professional in a controlled environment. But if your friend wants to learn more about how it works?  Read This Book

Here Is How We Could Store Data On A Single Atom

Here Is How We Could Store Data On A Single Atom
Data and data storage is in a never-ending arms race. The size and cost of memory shrinks while video and photo resolutions go up, and file sizes balloon. The end result is you just never seem to have enough room on your phone or laptop for all your stuff. But there’s a limit to how small magnetic storage can get, and scientists are inching towards it.

The basic building block of data is a bit, represented by either 1 or 0. The basic building block of ordinary matter is an atom. So scientists have been trying to store a bit using a single atom. It actually makes sense when you think about it.

Magnets have a north and south pole, so depending on which way they are oriented they can represent a one or a zero. Usually, magnetic fields are only noticeable when the magnetic fields of whole clusters of atoms are aligned the same way, but zoom in closer and you’ll see the electrons of atoms basically act as tiny magnets in and of themselves, so theoretically a single atom could be enough to represent a bit.

Despite the rise of solid-state drives, magnetic storage devices such as conventional hard drives and magnetic tapes are still very common. But as our data-storage needs are increasing at a rate of almost 15 million gigabytes per day, scientists are turning to alternative storage devices.

One of these is single-atom magnets: storage devices consisting of individual atoms stuck ("adsorbed") on a surface, each atom able to store a single bit of data that can be written and read using quantum mechanics. And because atoms are tiny enough to be packed together densely, single-atom storage devices promise enormous data capacities.

But although they are no longer science fiction, single-atom magnets are still in basic research, with many fundamental obstacles to be overcome before they can be implemented into commercial devices. EPFL has been at the forefront of the field, overcoming the issue of magnetic remanence, and showing that single-atom magnets can be used to read and write data.

In a new study published in Physical Review Letters, physicists at EPFL's Institute of Physics have used Scanning Tunneling Microscopy to demonstrate the stability of a magnet consisting of a single atom of holmium, an element they have been working with for years.

"Single-atom magnets offer an interesting perspective because quantum mechanics may offer shortcuts across their stability barriers that we could exploit in the future," says EPFL's Fabian Natterer who is the paper's first author. "This would be the last piece of the puzzle to atomic data recording."

The scientists exposed the atom to extreme conditions that normally de-magnetize single-atom magnets, such as temperature and high magnetic fields, all of which would pose risks to future storage devices.

Using a Scanning Tunneling Microscope, which can "see" atoms on surfaces, the scientists found that the holmium atoms could retain their magnetization in a magnetic field exceeding 8 Tesla, which is around the strength of magnets used in the Large Hadron Collider. The authors describe this as "record-breaking coercivity", a term that describes the ability of a magnet to withstand an external magnetic field without becoming demagnetized.

Next, they turned up the heat: The researchers exposed a series of Holmium single-atom magnets to temperatures of up to 45 Kelvin, (-233.15 degrees Celsius), which, for single atoms, is like being in a sauna. The Holmium single-atom magnets remained stable up to a temperature of 35K. Only at around 45K, the magnets began to spontaneously align themselves to the applied magnetic field. This showed that they can withstand relatively high-temperature perturbations and might point to the way forward for running single-atom magnets at more commercially viable temperatures.

"Research in the miniaturization of magnetic bits has focused heavily on magnetic bistability," says Natterer. "We have demonstrated that the smallest bits can indeed be extremely stable, but next we need to learn how to write information to those bits more effectively to overcome the magnetic 'trilemma' of magnetic recording: stability, writability, and signal-to-noise ratio."

Fun fact, there are also some scientists out there trying to store data on a single ELECTRON! It’s called electronic quantum holography, and it is very confusing.

Journey Of SpaceX

Journey Of SpaceX

Journey Of SpaceX
It was a historic moment when Elon Musk the billionaire founder of SpaceX and Tesla set to launch the biggest rocket in the world at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on 6th of February 2018. 

This is a point in history that we don't come too often. We're in this amazing transition point that we have not been in since the moon landings. With companies like SpaceX, we have alignment of so many capabilities and opportunities and changes happening that are all pushing in one direction which is towards Mars. 

“We had plans to land the first humans on Mars in 1981 and have a permanent base on Mars by the late 1980s. If anybody had told me when I was 17 years old watching that moon landing that I would be 64 and we wouldn't be on Mars I would have thought they were crazy.” words of a former Nasa Executive 

Apollo was you know nearly 50 years ago, that's insane. We went to the moon with 1960s technology and haven't gone back since. The question is Why did we not keep going to Mars? The answer is it's really expensive. It's such a massive human undertaking, We need commercial space companies that I think are going to help bring the cost of space down to open the frontier irreversibly for everybody.

We need to go to Mars Because it protects us from extinction. There are all sorts of things that could happen on earth that kill all humans on the planet. But once humans are on two different planets the odds of extinction dropped to nearly zero. 

This window of opportunity is open for life to go beyond Earth. But who knows how long that window will be open. This kind of thing can barely be done by extremely advanced governments and here comes a guy with 350 million bucks who says I'm gonna start a rocket company and I'm gonna get us to Mars. SpaceX Falcon Heavy go for launch. 

Humans can't survive on earth indefinitely. So Think of everything that we've achieved as a civilization Think of everything that we have achieved as a culture. We will go extinct if we do not become a spacefaring species. Survival for Humanity, in the long run, depends on This.

“Launchpad 39a is a hallowed ground. It's the place where the first humans left Earth then went to another heavenly body. It's the greatest launch site on earth. Launchpad 39a was used for the Apollo 11 mission and then for the Space Shuttle. So it's a place with incredible historical significance.” words of Elon Musk. Now NASA has given launch pad 39a to SpaceX to use.

From the first explorers who ventured off our planet to those who have risked their lives in pursuit to furthering our understanding of the universe, The Astronauts and Engineers behind the Space Program have spent decades advancing space technology. But building rockets was expensive. By the early 2000s, The Space program was struggling and a mission to Mars was hard to imagine. Space Shuttle spreads its wings one final time for the start of a Sentimental Journey into history it was then that a young entrepreneur had a revolutionary idea. 

That idea is now the SpaceX. They are simply trying to achieve a huge advancement in rocket technology. If we look at rocket technology it actually got worse over time. In 1969, We were able to go to the moon and then with the Space Shuttle We were only able to go to low-earth orbit and When Space Shuttle went away We weren't able to go to orbit from the United States. That's a negative trend line it's not like you can extrapolate that trend line into the future. As Elon said, “If it's not gonna come from the government then it's got to come from a private company.” 
Journey Of SpaceX
The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful operational rocket in the world. In addition to the centre core, it's powered by two Falcon 9 rocket boosters that of each flown and landed once before. They will now be reused to launch Falcon Heavy. Elon said, “Falcon Heavy, it's really a revolution in space technology. The long-term goal of SpaceX is to develop the technology necessary to establish the self-sustaining city on Mars.

In an interview, Ricky Lim, Senior Director of Lunch Operations at SpaceX., Said, “One of the most exciting parts of working at SpaceX is missions like Falcon Heavy. These bold missions these bold visions for just doing things better but also doing things on a much grander scale.”
Saturn 5 the rocket that took us to the moon was an overkill. Wernher von Braun who built the Saturn 5, overbuilt entirely the rocket to go to the moon. Saturn 5 is the largest longest and heaviest machine ever built by humans. It's absolute overkill for going to the moon and the reason is von Braun didn't want to go to the moon he wanted to go to Mars. von Braun just like Elon Musk was intensely aware that humans, in order to survive, have to become a spacefaring species.

Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity all of these Rovers have started to unveil and showed us that there is water that the Martian soil has the nutrients. Mars is the closest planetary object that has all the conditions and resources needed to support life and therefore technological civilization. We just have to get there. Falcon heavy is the culmination of years of innovation in rocket technology. Taking the company one step closer to Mars.

It's gonna be exceptionally difficult to go to Mars. You are talking about new technologies and virtually every possible system and this is where science and science fiction sort of colliding in a way that is helpful. You learn a lot more but it also reminds you of just how much there is at stake here. 

There is no such thing as a perfect record in rocketry. On average 20% of all attempts to get off the face of the earth with a rocket failed. There's a strange relationship between failure risk and innovation which is you can take risks you can try something very innovative but you are more likely to fail. This is why different types of rocket companies and NASA itself tend to go with older technologies. In early days People tried to talk Elon out of doing SpaceX, They told him about Dead Astronauts and about other things. The odds are against him, but despite all, he has shown the world it's doable.

Falcon Heavy has been seven years in the making, but it all started with SpaceX's first model Falcon one. This was their first attempt to create a reliable low-cost rocket made up of two stages and designed to reach low-earth orbit.  Rockets they really don't want to work They like to blow up. It took 3 attempts for SpaceX to finally complete there first step toward Mars A Successful Lunch of a Rocket.

When Elon Musk decided that he is gonna to build a Rocket Company of his own everyone thought he was crazy. Everyone laughed at him no one has ever really contemplated this in a serious way. In the beginning, it was also a crazy idea for Elon Musk and also for his Team, But they took it seriously. They think that reaching Mars or putting a colony on Mars is just like any other Engineering Problem. Their idea is to find a solution to the problem and achieve the Human’s dream. 

SpaceX is like no other rocket company there in an unglamorous building in the middle of nowhere in kind of an industrial zone. But when you walk into the doors and all of a sudden you see they are making these pristine gorgeous rockets. It feels like you have walked into a factory on another planet. 

After Falcon one SpaceX set its sights on the next phase in their rocket evolution the Falcon 9. The design called for a booster which contained nine Merlin engines and increased the amount it could lift by more than 30 times, but the key component of the Falcon 9 design was reusability. Elon Musk has said that the key to Mars is the reusability of rockets. That is an extremely complicated concept. He wants to be able to fire a rocket into orbit launch a payload into space and then fire retrorockets and bring that rocket down to land vertically and reuse it. If he cannot make Rockets truly reusable then he cannot launch a new civilization on Mars. So SpaceX has an incredible camera focused on it an incredible amount of attention because it's the only company in the world that is actually trying to do what it's trying to do which is develop the technology to get humans to Mars.

With the success of the SES 10 mission, SpaceX had all the ingredients to assemble the most powerful launch vehicle since Saturn 5 the Falcon Heavy. Heavy has the ability to lift more than the weight of a 737 jet loaded with passengers crew luggage and fuel. With reusable boosters and an increased payload capacity, it's able to transport the incredible amount of supplies needed to build a human civilization on Mars.

Heavy lift capability is the critical technology needed to enable Human missions to Mars and a reusable heavy lift vehicle is the critical technology needed to settle Mars. Heavy is an even better rock tip than Falcon 9 because it can deliver more payload and you know like sending stuff to Mars. Heaviest really the vehicle you need for that. Getting to Mars will be risky dangerous uncomfortable but it'll be the greatest adventure ever in human history.
Journey Of SpaceX
“It's one of those things that's a reason to live. Life cannot just be about solving one miserable problem after another there have to be reasons that like you wake up in the morning you look forward to being alive. You are excited about the future that's I think what Mars represents to me. It's seeing what the universe is all about” Elon said.

We Have Just Invented The World’s Fastest Camera

We Have Just Invented the World’s Fastest Camera
Our scientific world is both expanding and getting more precise every day. We are pushing the boundaries of what we had ever thought possible, but that means the way we measure that science has to keep getting more precise too. Are we ever going to hit the limit of what we can see and therefore what we can discover? Well, new research has now given us the world’s fastest camera so that’s a step in the right direction.

To give you the whole picture, back in the 1920s a pioneering electrical engineer named Harold Edgerton made history when he was able to capture images of things that happened on the microsecond scale. That’s one-millionth of a second. Flash forward to today and we have moved beyond the microsecond. Many research facilities around the world want to explore stuff that’s happening in the femtosecond range. That’s a quadrillionth of a second. Literally millionths of a billionth of a second. What kind of things happens that fast? Well for one, LASERS.

Lasers that fire femtosecond pulses can help us explore the tiny nooks and crannies of our universe. They’re being used in materials processing, to fabricate micromachines and biochips. Ultrafast pulse lasers have enabled fields like biophotonics, which let us image the function of live tissues in 3D which has helped us expand our understanding of the physical function of the human brain. And these kinds of laser pulses are essential for photochemistry and photobiology, fields that let us see natural reactions on a molecular level.

"What happens when a new technology is so precise that it operates on a scale beyond our characterization capabilities? For example, the lasers used at INRS produce ultrashort pulses in the femtosecond range (10-15 s), which is far too short to visualize. Although some measurements are possible, nothing beats a clear image", says INRS professor and ultrafast imaging specialist Jinyang Liang. He and his colleagues, led by Caltech's Lihong Wang, have developed what they call T-CUP: the world's fastest camera, capable of capturing 10 trillion (1013) frames per second. This new camera literally makes it possible to freeze time to see phenomena and even light in extremely slow motion.

In recent years, the junction between innovations in non-linear optics and imaging has opened the door for new and highly efficient methods for microscopic analysis of dynamic phenomena in biology and physics. But harnessing the potential of these methods requires a way to record images in real time at a very short temporal resolution in a single exposure.

Using current imaging techniques, measurements taken with ultrashort laser pulses must be repeated many times, which is appropriate for some types of inert samples, but impossible for other more fragile ones. For example, laser-engraved glass can tolerate only a single laser pulse, leaving less than a picosecond to capture the results. In such a case, the imaging technique must be able to capture the entire process in real time.

Compressed ultrafast photography (CUP) was a good starting point. At 100 billion frames per second, this method approached, but did not meet, the specifications required to integrate femtosecond lasers. To improve on the concept, the new T-CUP system was developed based on a femtosecond streak camera that also incorporates a data acquisition type used in applications such as tomography.

"We knew that by using only a femtosecond streak camera, the image quality would be limited," says Professor Lihong Wang, the Bren Professor of Medial Engineering and Electrical Engineering at Caltech and the Director of Caltech Optical Imaging Laboratory (COIL). "So to improve this, we added another camera that acquires a static image. Combined with the image acquired by the femtosecond streak camera, we can use what is called a Radon transformation to obtain high-quality images while recording ten trillion frames per second."

Setting the world record for real-time imaging speed, T-CUP can power a new generation of microscopes for biomedical, materials science and other applications. This camera represents a fundamental shift, making it possible to analyze interactions between light and matter at an unparalleled temporal resolution.

The first time it was used, the ultrafast camera broke new ground by capturing the temporal focusing of a single femtosecond laser pulse in real time. This process was recorded in 25 frames taken at an interval of 400 femtoseconds and detailed the light pulse's shape, intensity, and angle of inclination.

"It's an achievement in itself," says Jinyang Liang, the leading author of this work, who was an engineer in COIL when the research was conducted, "but we already see possibilities for increasing the speed to up to one quadrillion (1015) frames per second!" Speeds like that are sure to offer insight into as-yet undetectable secrets of the interactions between light and matter.

This Space Age-Looking Flying Car Actually Flies

Flying Car Actually Flies
The concept of the flying car has been a staple of gee-whiz Tomorrowland-style science fiction since the 1950s. But real-world incarnations of the idea have traditionally been rather underwhelming. The all-electric Lilium Jet just attracted $90 million in funding and differs from similar projects in that it’s already flying.

Depending on how you define your terms, we already have several flying cars in the skies right now, from straightforward hybrids like the Terrafugia Transition basically a small private plane with fold-up wings to passenger drones like the recently unveiled Kitty Hawk, backed by Google's Larry Page. These aircraft incorporate all manner of promising technologies, but they don't look anything like the flying cars from those old pulp magazine. Except for one.

Germany's Lilium Jet, backed in part by the European Space Agency, is a decidedly space-age looking vehicle and is probably the closest thing we have to the popular depictions of a flying car. The Lilium design expands on existing Vertical Take Off and Landing technology, which powers military aircraft like the Harrier Jump Jet. Scaled down for civilian use, the Lilium is basically a two-seat electric jet for the discerning 21st-century commuter.

In April of 2017, a full-size prototype of the Lilium, dubbed Eagle, made its maiden voyage above an airfield outside Munich. The test flight was unmanned, but the proof-of-concept demonstration was impressive enough, apparently. This week, Lilium Aviation announced that it has raised $90 million in a new round of financing.

This is the next stage in our rapid evolution from an idea to the production of a commercially successful aircraft that will revolutionize the way we travel in and around the world’s cities,” Lilium co-founder and CEO Daniel Wiegand said in a statement announcing the new financing.

The influx of cash is a huge vote of confidence for the small German company, which is going head-to-head with heavy hitters like Airbus and Uber, each of which is also aggressively developing flying car systems.

The Airbus Pop Up system, still in the concept phase, imagines a fleet of modular passenger cabins that attach to a wheeled chassis when driving and a rotor array during flight. Uber's Elevate initiative, also still on the drawing board, proposes semi-autonomous passenger drones that can be hailed from rooftops and helipads in urban settings.

The Lilium is different in several key aspects. It's already flying for one thing. But it’s powered by an all-electric engine, whereas competitors are largely moving toward larger aircraft that use a hybrid gas-plus-electric design.

The Lilium Jet is propelled by three electric jet engines, each of which powers a wing inset with a dozen flaps that can tilt from vertical to horizontal orientation. During takeoff and landing, the flaps point straight down, lifting the craft into the air.

Once airborne, the flaps gradually move to the horizontal position, as with a standard jet engine aircraft. While moving horizontally, the Lilium only expends a tenth of the energy required during takeoff. The all-electric design also means zero emissions and a low noise factor.

For now, Lilium Aircraft isn't releasing any specific numbers on the prototype aircraft's top speed or potential range, but it is planning for the future. Its price tag remains uncertain, too. The company's next step is to build a five-passenger version of the Lilium and it's set some hard-number goals for that aircraft.

“The Lilium Jet will be able to travel at up to 300 kilometres per hour (186 miles per hour) for one hour on a single charge meaning a 19 km (12 miles) journey from Manhattan to JFK Airport could last as little as five minutes,” Wiegand said in the announcement. “The jet’s economy and efficiency mean flights are predicted to cost less than the same journey in a normal road taxi.”

A New Class Of Propeller Shaped Nanorobots That Can Swim Through The Eyeball's Dense Tissue

A New Class Of Propeller Shaped Nanorobots That Can Swim Through The Eyeball's Dense Tissue
You know those little motes or floaters that you sometimes see moving in your vision? Well, someday very soon, those could be Nanorobots.

An international team of medical researchers has unveiled a new class of medical nanobots that can “swim” through the thick vitreous tissue of the eyeball. The propeller-shaped robots are designed to deliver medicine to precise locations in the eye.

The nanobots have so far only been tested in model systems and dissected animal eyeballs, but the plan is to eventually deploy the technology in clinics, giving doctors a new way to treat a variety of ophthalmological ailments.

The new robots were developed at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, with input from researchers in Denmark and China. Details on the emerging technology were recently published in the journal Science Advances under the rather evocative title, “A swarm of slippery micro-propellers penetrates the vitreous body of the eye.”

While similar nanobots have been developed for moving through other parts of the body the bloodstream and the gastrointestinal tract, say the Planck bots are the first to be designed specifically for the human eyeball. The project is part of a larger initiative to design extremely small robots that can achieve targeted drug delivery inside of dense biological tissue.

The eyebots are definitely small microscopic, in fact. At about 500 nanometers wide, they’re around 200 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. That’s smaller than most bacteria, researchers say, and it’s just the right size for sliding around in the complex molecular matrix of the eyeball.

One of the major design challenges was to find a way to keep the bots, which move like a corkscrew, from getting entangled in the eyeball’s mesh of biological molecules. The solution involved adding a kind of non-stick coating. Oddly enough, the Planck team turned to the world of plants to solve that problem.

“For the coating, we look to nature for inspiration,” said Zhiguang Wu, first author on the study, in a statement. “We applied a liquid layer found on the carnivorous pitcher plant, which has a slippery surface to catch insects,” Wu said that the synthetic non-stick layer is similar to the Teflon coating of a frying pan. “This slippery coating is crucial for the efficient propulsion of our robots inside the eye,” he said, “as it minimizes the adhesion between the biological protein network in the vitreous and the surface of our nanorobots.”

For movement, the eyebots rely on a standard system used by other kinds of medical nanobots: magnets. Each of the bots has propeller-shaped elements that are seeded with tiny metal particles. Those particles respond to an external magnetic field, controlled by the doctor, which ultimately guides the robot to the desired location in the eye.

To test the new technology, the Planck team carried out a series of experiments using dissected pig eyeballs. Using a small needle, the team injected tens of thousands of the bots into the eyeball’s vitreous humor. They then used the magnetic fields to rotate each bot’s individual nanopropeller, guiding the entire swarm to the retina.

The next step in the research is to load the nanobots with cargo and test out different kinds of drugs and medicines. The idea is to deploy a nanobot eyeball swarmsavourr that phrase for a moment to deliver treatments within the eye without the need for surgery or other invasive techniques.

“We want to be able to use our nanopropellers as tools in the minimally-invasive treatment of all kinds of diseases,” said co-author Tian Qiu, “where the problematic area is hard to reach and surrounded by dense tissue.”

NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Will Hunt For Signs Of Ancient Life In What Used To Be A River Delta

NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Will Hunt For Signs Of Ancient Life In What Used To Be A River Delta
The rover is expected to launch in July 2020 and to land on Mars around February 18, 2021. It will seek out signs of past life in the sediments and sands of Jezero crater, which was once home to a 250-meter deep lake and a river delta that flowed into the lake.

“This is a major attraction from our point of view for a habitable environment,” said Mars 2020 project scientist Ken Farley of Caltech in a news conference discussing the site. “A delta is extremely good at preserving biosignatures.” Any evidence of life that may once have existed in the lake water, or even evidence that came from the river’s headwaters and flowed downstream, could be preserved in the rocks that are there today.

The 2020 rover’s design is similar to that of the Curiosity rover, which has been exploring a different ancient crater lake, Gale crater, since 2012. But where Curiosity has an onboard chemistry lab for studying the rocks and minerals in its crater, Mars 2020 will have a specialized backpack for sample storage. A future mission will pick up the cached samples and return them to Earth for more detailed study, possibly sometime in the 2030s.

“The samples will come back to the best labs, not the best labs we have today, but the best labs we will have then,” said science mission directorate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen of NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Mars 2020 will also use a souped-up version of Curiosity’s landing system called Sky Crane, in which a hovering platform lowers the rover onto the ground with a cable. Mars 2020’s version will include a navigation system that will help it avoid hazards on the ground, like cliff faces and boulders.

Jezero crater is within striking distance of another site on scientists’ wish list. That region, called Midway, is just 28 kilometres away from Jezero and contains some of the most ancient rocks on Mars. At the final landing site selection workshop in October, scientists floated the idea of visiting both sites in one mission, a feat seen as ambitious but achievable. But a decision on that will have to wait until after the rover is safely on Mars, Farley said.

The Ion Drive Powered Aeroplane Flew For The First Time In The Air

The Ion Drive Powered Aeroplane Flew For The First Time In The Air
In an aeroplane, The Aeroplane gets the thrust it needs to fly through the air either from a propeller or a jet engine. Both methods require moving parts a propeller spins and a jet engine has a fan inside. As a result, they are loud.

But now aeronautics experts at MIT have flown a radically different type of plane that is thrust through the air using just electricity and the movement of ions, a type of silent drive without moving parts out of science fiction.

The researchers flew the aeroplane a total of ten times at an indoor track at MIT. It weighs a little over 5 pounds, has a wingspan of about 16 feet and flew about 230 feet on its longest flight roughly the twice the wingspan of a Boeing 737 before smacking into the gym’s wall. Its speed is about 11 mph. The tech powering the plane is called electro-aerodynamic propulsion.

“What we achieved was the first ever sustained flight of an airplane that is propelled by electro-aerodynamic propulsion, and that’s also, by many definitions, the first ever solid-state flight, meaning no moving parts,” Steven Barrett, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, said in a video about the plane.

Here’s how the tech works which could someday be used to create drones, or even bigger craft, with solid-state propulsion systems.

The key components are electrodes under the wing that runs horizontally. There are many of them, but to understand how the aeroplane flies, you only need to consider the relationship between the two. One electrode is thin, like a wire and thanks to a battery and power converter onboard the plane, that electrode is charged to a whopping 20,000 volts of electricity. Behind that thin electrode, and more towards the back of the plane is another one it looks like a tiny wing. That second electrode is charged with negative 20,000 volts, creating a difference of 40,000 volts.

Just like you wouldn’t want to touch a propeller, you shouldn’t reach for these electrodes, either. “It could be pretty dangerous,” says Barrett, who is also the senior author on a new study in the journal Nature describing the aircraft. “We’re talking quite a lot of power.”

Those two electrodes can help make the plane fly because the first one, charged to 20,000 volts, spurs nearby nitrogen molecules to lose an electron and become positively charged. The positive nitrogen ions are then attracted to the second electrode, which has a negative charge. The magic happens while a nitrogen ion is travelling between the electrodes, because it bumps into regular air molecules. “And on each collision, it transfers energies to those molecules, and creates a wind of neutral air,” Barrett says. Presto: an aeroplane powered by ions.

If you’re wondering what happens to the sad nitrogen molecules that lose an electron when they hit the first electrode, don’t worry: they regain them once they hit the second one, becoming neutral again. “And then it continues on its way as though it had never been involved in the process in the first place,” Barrett says.

In the future, Barrett says they’d like to take those electrodes and bake them into the skin of a next-gen aircraft, so there would be no need for the external ones on this prototype. Not only that, he says that the ion drive could even be used to steer the plane going forward, so it wouldn’t need traditional control surfaces, like a rudder or elevator, which is the part of the smaller wing at the back of a plane that control’s a craft’s pitch. That way the solid-state engines would not only propel the plane, but it would also control its direction.

It’s early days for this technology, though. The Nature paper points out that designs like this one are “not yet competitive against conventional aeroplanes at a similar scale in metrics such as range, endurance, and payload capacity.”

Still, Barrett says the ion drive could power miniature drones or other craft built on the same general scale as the prototype they already flew. “I do hope that we can develop this towards larger aircraft that maybe even eventually could carry passengers,” he says.

Nuclear Knots Might Have The Keys To Unlock The Mysteries Of Atoms

Nuclear Knots Might Have The Keys To Unlock The Mysteries Of Atoms
A skyrmion is a tiny disturbance in a substance, a swirling pattern that, like a knot, is difficult to undo. In the 1960s, nuclear physicist Tony Skyrme suggested that these structures since named after him could represent protons and neutrons within a nucleus in theoretical calculations. But despite some initial promise, the idea hit snags. In particular, skyrmion calculations produced misshapen nuclei.

But now researchers have improved their calculations of how protons and neutrons should cluster together in the skyrmion picture. Those results agreed with expectations based on experimental data, the team reports in a study in press at Physical Review Letters.

Here’s how the idea works: Inside a nucleus, particles called pions are constantly zinging around, helping to hold the nucleus together. Just as an electron has an electric field that can jostle other particles, those pions are associated with fields too. In Skyrme’s original picture, protons and neutrons can be described as twists in the pion field or skyrmions akin to a knot tied in a piece of string.

In reality, protons and neutrons are each made up of smaller subatomic particles called quarks and gluons, and the fundamental theory that describes how those particles interact, called quantum chromodynamics, is impossibly complex. Skyrmions could simplify calculations if only the technique produced the correct answers.

Scientists predict that some atomic nuclei should be shaped into multiple clumps. Previously, the shapes of those nuclei, when calculated with skyrmions, displayed forms that disagreed with that prediction (top row). But new skyrmion calculations found nuclei that consisted of multiple clusters, as expected (bottom row). Colours indicate the type of pion particles that help hold the nucleus together that dominates in each region.

Now, physicists from Durham University in England have solved some of the skyrmions’ woes, in studies of atomic nuclei as large as carbon-12.

Skyrmion calculations typically neglect heavier particles called rho mesons that are also important for keeping nuclei intact. Including those particles in the calculations changes how the skyrmion “knot” in the field gets tied, and the shapes of the resulting nuclei, says mathematical physicist and study coauthor Paul Sutcliffe. It’s as if the knots were tied in “a boring piece of string before, and now it’s a coloured string with some sparkles on it.” As a result, “you now get the right shapes,” he says.

The idea of skyrmions caught on in other fields as well. A related skyrmion shows up in spirals of magnetization in certain solid materials, but magnetic skyrmions are much larger and can be manipulated at will.

Researchers have long struggled to use skyrmions to study atomic nuclei, says theoretical physicist Nicholas Manton of the University of Cambridge who was not involved with the study. But the new result “gets closer to being physically reasonable.”

Eventually, such calculations might help scientists study surprising properties of certain nuclei. An example is carbon-14, a radioactive version of carbon that can be used to date ancient artefacts. It decays with a surprisingly long half-life of about 5,700 years. Skyrmions could help scientists better understand that strange decay, Manton says.

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