20060320

Species loss worst since the dinosaurs

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CNN.com - Report: Species loss worst since the dinosaurs - Mar 20, 2006: "OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Humans are responsible for the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs and must make unprecedented extra efforts to reach a goal of slowing losses by 2010, a U.N. report said on Monday."

I find it hard to believe that we are living in a period of a mass extinction event. I wonder how the science is behind this determination works. This is something to take very seriously. I also wonder about the living web of life. As we cut threads here and there, the web will eventually unravel. How long could this continue and remain unnoticable to the public at large? How long would the world remain sustainable for us?

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Who's Afraid of a Solar Flare?

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NASA - Who's Afraid of a Solar Flare?: "During the storms, something strange happened onboard the International Space Station (ISS): radiation levels dropped."

I found this interesting. During solar storms, the sun sends out corona mass ejections (CME). These produce deadly levels of radiation. However, they also deflect galactic cosmic radiation. Since we can shield against CMEs and not cosmic rays, it may actually be safer to travel during solar storms. Good times to visit the Moon and Mars may be around 2011 and 2022.

As an interesting aside, the solar storms of the coming solar maximum (2010-2012) may be the largest we've seen since 1958. During that maximum, people spotted the northern lights as far south as Mexico!.

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20060301

CNN.com - Casual games -- good, clean, cheap fun online - Feb 28, 2006

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CNN.com - Casual games -- good, clean, cheap fun online - Feb 28, 2006: "Casual games, those five-minute diversions you play for a quick break but somehow end up clicking away on for two hours, have become one of the fastest-growing categories of computer gaming."

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Private Rocket Set for Late March

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SPACE.com -- Flight of the Falcon: Private Rocket Set for Late March: "Another spot on the calendar has been targeted for the maiden takeoff of the privately built Falcon 1 launch vehicle, designed and constructed by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of El Segundo, California.
“Looks like we are on for a March 20-25 launch window,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX chairman and chief executive officer. “We are also going to do another static fire to check out the system about four days before launch,” he told SPACE.com.
Next month’s projected liftoff will take place from an equatorial launch site built by SpaceX at Kwajalein Atoll on the Pacific Ocean."

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20060206

Remembering Challenger 20 years later

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Space History - MSNBC.com: "Remembering Challenger 20 years later
Twenty years ago, space shuttle Challenger blew apart into jets of fire and plumes of smoke, a terrifying sight witnessed by the families of the seven astronauts and onlookers who came to watch the historic launch of the first teacher in space."

I remember being told in high school by our home room teacher about the accident. I remember little else from home room, but I do remember that.

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20051220

Press Release: Partial Ingredients for DNA and Protein Found Around Star

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Press Release: Partial Ingredients for DNA and Protein Found Around Star: "NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered some of life's most basic ingredients in the dust swirling around a young star. The ingredients -- gaseous precursors to DNA and protein -- were detected in the star's terrestrial planet zone, a region where rocky planets such as Earth are thought to be born.
The findings represent the first time that these gases, called acetylene and hydrogen cyanide, have been found in a terrestrial planet zone outside of our own."

Artist concept of a young star system.
Credit: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

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20051129

Thanksgiving in Space Could Look Different - Yahoo! News

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Thanksgiving in Space Could Look Different - Yahoo! News: "During the six- to eight-month trip to Mars, space travelers will grow lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green onions, radishes, bell peppers, strawberries, herbs and cabbage aboard their spacecraft.
And when they arrive at the Red Planet for a stay of about a year and a half, they will cultivate potatoes, soybeans, wheat, rice, peanuts and beans in soil-less hydroponic chambers, according to NASA's food scientists."

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20051104

CNN.com - Astronomers may have detected first starlight - Nov 2, 2005

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CNN.com - Astronomers may have detected first starlight - Nov 2, 2005: "Researchers from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland believe they have captured traces of radiation from long-extinguished stars that were 'born' during the universe's infancy.
The research represents the first tangible -- but not conclusive evidence of these earliest stars, which are thought to have produced the raw materials from which future stars, including our sun, were created.
The Big Bang, the explosion believed to have created the universe, is thought to have occurred 13.7 billion years ago. About 100 million years later, hydrogen atoms began to merge and ignite, creating brightly burning stars. Just what these stars were like wasn't clear."

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20051103

New Scientist Breaking News - 'Gadget printer' promises industrial revolution

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New Scientist Breaking News - 'Gadget printer' promises industrial revolution: "The idea of printing a light bulb may seem bizarre, but US engineers are now developing an ink-jet printing technology to do just that. The research at the University of California in Berkeley will allow fully assembled electric and electronic gadgets to be printed in one go.
The idea was revealed at a December workshop on robotic algorithms in Nice. Instead of creating a casing and then laboriously filling it with electronic circuit boards, components and switches, the plan is to print a complete and fully assembled device."

I once had a dream as a child of a paint by numbers set, where the paints had electrical properties. By sending electric currents through such a painting, you create a simple electric circuit capable of doing anything simple circuits are capable of. A few layers of the right "paints" would make a resistor, capacitor, or transitor. Light emitting diode paints could even light up as a display for a clock or a simple computer. I had even considered the possibility of putting these paints in a printer. Sometimes I think that childhood imagination is wasted when it isn't pursued.

I am glad to see that I may have been on to something really cool.

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Robot builder could 'print' houses

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New Scientist Breaking News - Robot builder could 'print' houses: "A robot for 'printing' houses is to be trialled by the construction industry. It takes instructions directly from an architect's computerised drawings and then squirts successive layers of concrete on top of one other to build up vertical walls and domed roofs.

The precision automaton could revolutionise building sites. It can work round the clock, in darkness and without tea breaks. It needs only power and a constant feed of semi-liquid construction material."

This type of automated construction technique could be vital to a space colonizations effort. Many of the hazards of construction on Earth can be avoided. Those hazards are multiplied in an environment exposed to hard vacuum and radiation.

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20051012

SPECIAL REPORT: Evolution & Intelligent Design

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PART 1:
An Ambiguous Assault on Evolution

This Trojan Horse for Creationism has become very popular. But who is being duped? And what does it all mean for morality?
PART 2:
'The Death of Science'

Intelligent design is presented as a legitimate scientific theory and an alternative to Darwinism, but a close look at the arguments shows they don't pass scientific muster. So why are scientists worried?
PART 3:
Belief Posing as Theory

As evolution takes a beating, scientists remind us of the difference between fact, theory and belief.
PART 4:
Anti-evolution Attacks on the Rise

Each time the effort to introduce creationism into classrooms starts up again, so does legislation aimed against evolution. Learn about the rash of recent cases, plus a look at historically pertinent court cases.

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20050906

World's First Operational ''Spaceport'' for Private Space Launches

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World's First Operational ''Spaceport'' for Private Space Launches to be Announced by New Mexico's Governor, Bill Richardson | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference: "On March 27, 2006, UP Aerospace, Inc. (www.upaerospace.com) -- heralding 'Unlimited Possibilities' for business and education -- will launch its SpaceLoft rocket on a sub-orbital flight from the New Mexico Spaceport. The flight will carry seven experimental and commercial payloads for a variety of scholastic and business entities. After traveling into space, the rocket and its payloads will land in the downrange area of the Spaceport.
The inaugural space launch will be announced tomorrow, September 7th, at 2:00 PM MT on the steps of New Mexico's State Capitol Building in Santa Fe. The announcement will take place in a combined press conference with Governor Richardson, New Mexico's government leadership, and the principals of UP Aerospace. "

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20050711

125th Anniversary Issue: Science Online Special Feature

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125th Anniversary Issue: Science Online Special Feature: "In a special collection of articles published beginning 1 July 2005, Science Magazine and its online companion sites celebrate the journal's 125th anniversary with a look forward -- at the most compelling puzzles and questions facing scientists today. A special, free news feature in Science explores 125 big questions that face scientific inquiry over the next quarter-century; accompanying the feature are several online extras including a reader's forum on the big questions."

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20050621

CNN.com - Solar spacecraft blasts off - Jun 21, 2005

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CNN.com - Solar spacecraft blasts off - Jun 21, 2005: "A privately funded and experimental spacecraft blasted off on Tuesday from a Russian submarine in a venture funded by space enthusiasts who see their solar-driven orbiter as a way to reinvigorate a race to the stars.
Cosmos 1, the world's first solar sail spacecraft, launched in the tip of a converted Russian intercontinental ballistic missile from the Barents Sea for the start of a mission that cost just $4 million."

Up, up, and away....

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COSMOS 1

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ON JUNE 21, 2005, THE WORLD'S FIRST SOLAR SAIL SPACECRAFT WILL BE LAUNCHED BY OUR PLANETARY SOCIETY LED TEAM - "Cosmos 1 is part of a grand new age of exploration that is unfurling about us. This is not a government funded mission -- nor do we expect a huge cash prize at the end. This is a mission of true exploration, sponsored by Cosmos Studios, and supported by Members of The Planetary Society from all over the world.

What do we expect? We expect to test a truly new type of technology – a Solar Sail Spacecraft. A technology that could some day take us to the stars."

In less than seven minutes from the time of this posting, COSMOS 1 is scheduled to launch...

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20050609

Wired News: Race for Next Space Prize Ignites

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Wired News: Race for Next Space Prize Ignites: "Five to orbit is a significant number; it's the number required to win the next big space prize. America's Space Prize is a $50 million purse established last year by Las Vegas hotelier and, yes, space entrepreneur, Robert Bigelow. Bigelow will award the money to the first U.S. company to build, without government funding, a spaceship that can send five people into orbit twice within 60 days. Bigelow has more than an academic interest in commercial spaceflight; through his Bigelow Aerospace, he's expanding his real estate empire off-planet with the first commercial space stations. While he can launch his stations on existing unmanned commercial rockets, he needs an orbital passenger vehicle to succeed in his venture."

It looks like people and companies are getting into position for the next big economic bang. This time it will be space ventures competing to get off the ground. A number of successful billionaires are running this space rush to orbit. It shouldn't be too much longer for the Moon, Near Earth Objects, and Mars to be within reach.

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When Fox canceled 'Firefly,' it ignited an Internet fan base whose burning desire for more led to 'Serenity'

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When Fox canceled 'Firefly,' it ignited an Internet fan base whose burning desire for more led to 'Serenity': "When 'Firefly' was canceled, fans -- dubbed Browncoats in honor of the doomed-but-noble Independents -- campaigned to have it moved to another network. True to Browncoat tradition, they failed -- but their efforts convinced Fox to release the show as a DVD set that included three unaired episodes and behind-the-scenes extras. The DVD quickly sold more than 200,000 copies. Impressed, Universal Pictures climbed onboard, enabling Whedon to make 'Serenity' (due out Sept. 30), which picks up where the series left off."

Here are some links from the article for "Firefly" and "Serenity" Online:

And a couple more links:

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Massive Reorganization Underway at NASA; Craig Steidle Resigns

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Massive Reorganization Underway at NASA; Craig Steidle Resigns | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference: "A massive reorganization has begun at NASA. NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has begun the process by sending out formal notices to more than 50 senior NASA managers aprising them of pending changes in their job titles. "

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20050603

Earth as Seen from Mars

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Earth as Seen from Mars | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference: "On its 449th martian day, or sol (April 29, 2005), NASA's Mars rover Opportunity woke up approximately an hour after sunset and took this picture of the fading twilight as the stars began to come out. Set against the fading red glow of the sky, the pale dot near the center of the picture is not a star, but a planet -- Earth. "

One day, this view will be taken in by human eyes...

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20050602

CNN.com Special Report: Today's Visionaries

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CNN.com Specials - Vision

People from many fields present their visions of the future. Topics range from the future of Martian exploration to the coming 'care' economy.

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CNN.com - Brain downloads 'possible by 2050' - May 23, 2005

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CNN.com - Brain downloads 'possible by 2050' - May 23, 2005: "Ian Pearson, head of British Telecom's futurology unit, told the UK's Observer newspaper that the rapid advances in computing power would make cyber-immortality a reality within 50 years.
Pearson said the launch last week of Sony's PlayStation 3, a machine 35 times more powerful than the model it replaced, was a sign of things to come.
'The new PlayStation is one percent as powerful as the human brain,' Pearson told the Observer. 'It is into supercomputer status compared to 10 years ago. PlayStation 5 will probably be as powerful as the human brain.'"

Ok, so the PlayStation 5 will have human equivalent brain power. I do have a few questions.

Question 1: Will the PS5 be powerful enough to play Xbox 4 games and vice versa?

Question 2: What year will the PS5 be available? 2012-14?

Question 3: How long will it take to develop software to approach human intelligence?

Question 4: At what PS generation will it become unethical to kill or mistreat a video game character?

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20050524

FAQ: Bush's New Space Vision

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FAQ: Bush's New Space Vision: "President Bush's Jan. 14 speech painted broad brushstrokes of his plan to put humans back on the Moon and send them to Mars. He will depend on NASA and a new commission to sketch in the details.
The information below includes the opinions of scientists and space analysts inside and outside NASA. Details attributed to the White House are drawn from internal position papers obtained by Space News and SPACE.com."

Here's a FAQ with details on Bush's vision for NASA. Considering the mothballing of NASA's shuttle fleet and the potential rise in commercial space access. NASA astronauts could be destined to take commercial flights to the ISS within the next 20 years or so.

With frequent commercial trips to Earth orbit, lunar, near Earth asteroids, and Mars will be much easier to reach. Perhaps this could accelerate NASA's goals over the next few decades. NASA would be working less on the infrastructure of space travel and focus more on the medical, industrial, exploratory, and astronomical sciences.

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Private Moon Trips Forecast

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Private Moon Trips Forecast: "The personal spaceflight revolution now underway is spawning a suborbital travel market that will lead to passenger traffic headed into Earth orbit, Diamandis said. “In the next five to eight years we will have the first private orbital flights occurring,” he predicted.

Diamandis added that something very natural will happen when private orbital flights arise. “When you’re in orbit you are two-thirds of the way to anywhere,” he said.

“I predict that within about three years of private human orbital flights…you’ll have the first private teams of people stockpiling fuel on orbit and making a bee-line for the Moon,” Diamandis said."

Looks like commercial space flight might be taking off in a big way. Right now the US and China are planning to go back to the Moon and head for Mars. Could it be, that private space programs are getting ready to join the race?

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Virgin Galactic and the Future of Commercial Spaceflight

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Virgin Galactic and the Future of Commercial Spaceflight: "The one space tourism venture that has garnered the most interest in recent months, however, has been Virgin Galactic. Days before the first Ansari X Prize flight, Virgin announced it was partnering with Scaled Composites and Mojave Aerospace Ventures—the joint venture of Scaled and financier Paul Allen—to create a suborbital space tourism business flying vehicles based upon SpaceShipOne."

Virgin Galactic plans to offer space tourism at prices starting at $200,000 a pop that may eventually fall to $25,000 a ride. The space travel adventure trip include several days training and a preview flight aboard the launch plane. With flights starting in 2008, they hope to reach profitability at around five years and to forge ahead with the commercialization of orbital flight.

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20050519

Planet hunters lose out to Hubble rescue

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Planet hunters lose out to Hubble rescue : Nature: "Astronomers' elation at the prospect of a rescue for the Hubble Space Telescope is turning to dismay as the price of saving the venerable observatory becomes clear."

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20050518

Tech Firms Owe Debt to 'Star Wars' Creator

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Tech Firms Owe Debt to 'Star Wars' Creator: "In fact, dozens of groundbreaking technologies were initially developed at Lucasfilm Ltd.'s San Rafael headquarters, known as Skywalker Ranch.
“Half the technology companies here are spinoffs'' of a Lucas' company, said Robert Huebener, a former LucasArts videogame developer who in 1998 founded a competing firm in nearby Redwood City.
Perhaps not half, but the list of companies that in one way or another got their start at Skywalker Ranch is long."

The impact Lucas has had outside the movie industry is even more astounding that within it.

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Power of the Future: 10 Ways to Run the 21st Century

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Power of the Future: 10 Ways to Run the 21st Century: "Scientists are racing to perfect greener sources of energy to improve the environment and reduce dependence on oil and other fossil fuels. Some predict a hydrogen economy. Others say solar is the way to go. Wilder schemes involve sky-high wind turbines or antimatter engines. LiveScience explores the expectations, myths and realities of 10 top possibilities."

A look at 10 power strategies including solar, hydroelectric, nuclear, and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).

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Not So Picture Perfect: Proposed Lunar Landing Site Has Drawbacks

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Not So Picture Perfect: Proposed Lunar Landing Site Has Drawbacks: "This euphoric “eternal light bandwagon” gripping perhaps most lunar enthusiasts and supporters seems all very much like the momentary delight and anticipation of the moth that sees a bright porch light or street light, and is drawn instinctively, unsuspectingly, to its certain doom. Yes, we need water. But we need more iron and other materials. So is it better to ship X tons of water to sites away from the poles, or 10X (to grab a figure) tons of other materials to the poles? The answer to that question seems to me to be a “no-brainer”."

For those interested in going to the moon as a next step toward colonization, the use of polar craters as base sites could hinder lunar development. The easy access to water and solar power is only available in sparse areas at the poles. Developing a moon base could be cheaper at thes locations. However, the necessity of the ability to collect and store power over the 14 day luner days and nights might be delayed leaving much of the moon uninhabitable. The author suggests tackling these problems upfront will lead to cheaper and faster access to the moon.

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20050517

TIME Magazine's: Video Game Web Guide

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Video Game Web Guide - Xbox 360 - TIME Magazine "Our list of must-see sites for walkthroughs, strategy, classic consoles and the next generation"

Time Magazine has a cool list of sites for all things gaming.

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Message from Wayne Hale

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Message from Wayne Hale | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference: "It is no fun to come close to success just to find that more work is required. As a matter of fact, it is very difficult. Rather than complain that life unfair and we deserve better, it is time to be mature, to accept setback with a modicum of grace, and to pick up the shovel and start again to dig ourselves out of the hole."

I'd like to wish the new and improved NASA effort for safety. Hopefully, once these bitter trials are completed, the Shuttle will be retired (in 2010) without another tragedy. I do hope it returns to operation soon, but I certainly understand the need for caution.

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20050512

The Top 10 Space Imaginations at Work

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The Top 10 Space Imaginations at Work: "The Top 10 Space Imaginations at Work
Space.com examines the top 10 imaginations at work in a swiftly changing space industry. They are the entrepreneurs, policy makers, and visionaries helping to push innovation and technology to new heights, as well as the scientists who remind us of the hopes, dreams and ambitions that the cosmos could fulfill. "

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New Robots Clone Themselves

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New Robots Clone Themselves: "Mimicking reproduction in living organisms, researchers have built a simple self-replicating robot out of automated blocks.

Machines that can copy themselves have been built before, but the earlier experiments were limited to two dimensions or confined to a track. Hod Lipson and his collaborators at Cornell University have designed modular cubes, called molecubes, that can assume a range of three-dimensional shapes."

This is cool! I want a kit of my own!

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Shuttle's Retirement May Affect ISS Construction

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Shuttle's Retirement May Affect ISS Construction, NASA Chief Says

The shuttle is due to retire in 2010 and its replacement isn't due until 2014. And with the shuttle out of commission for two years, the space station's completion may be in jeopardy.

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20050318

Space venture of Amazon.com founder has West Texas county abuzz

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Blue Origin

This looks really cool. An internet billionaire is running his own space program. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is using his money to get into the space tourism biz. His small space technology company has been working with space missions since 2003. He just bought some land in Texas for a space port for space tourism. His ultimate aim is space colonization. This looks like a company to watch.

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