Life on Other Planets besides Mars

For dozens of years now mankind has been convinced that it might be able to prove the existence of life on Mars. As it turns out, it might have been looking in the wrong direction. New photos of Titan (one of Saturn’s moons) reveal that there is a good chance that life has been forming there. At this point the evidence seems to only point to very low levels of life, probably single cells at best, but even if it doesn’t have aliens, it still seems interesting enough to continue investigating. The reason for all of this speculation is massive lakes of methane that have pooled throughout the moon and interesting weather patterns. Due to the location and activity of this liquidized gas, scientists believe it might be a good sign of life.

People have often thought that one of Jupiter’s moons might have good conditions for the formation of life, and theories are always bouncing around about Mars. It seems interesting that the more we look at the solar system around us, the more that it looks like all kinds of conditions are favorable for the formation of life. Who knows — maybe in 100 years we will be able to find out we are not as unique as we once thought. Also, it would be pretty sweet to watch a methane rainstorm. Although it would probably smell.

Source: Wired

Science Finds another More Awesome Planet

So for about the last century there has been talk about a possible 10th planet hanging out in the solar system, (Pluto will always be a planet to me, get over it) and this one isn’t a planetoid like all those other lumps that made news a couple of years ago—this one is thought to have about four times that mass of Earth.  This planet hasn’t been spotted, but the orbits of other planets have been studied enough that someone followed through so very much math and figured out that something, and something big, is messing with their orbits.  The only problem is that the object is probably so distant that it can’t be seen with any satellites on Earth, which would mean borrowing the Hubble or something akin to it to find it.

This is one of those stories that reminds me why I was very unpopular as a child; when we were going through all of the planet names and trying to remember some dumb rhyme to know their order I was reading books talking about people who insisted basically the same thing and demanding to include it in our lessons.  The difference between then and now is that people are trying to avoid calling this discovery Planet X as it most certainly isn’t populated by angst riddled skateboarding turtles.  The problem that can be deduced from all of this is this, we know almost nothing about any planet other than ours, and less the farther they get away from us.  Even if there is a planet out there nothing we can do to research it will yield results for about 20 years.

Source: MSNBC

Clean Energy May Already Be Here

Clean Energy; it is the kind of thing that Al Gore dreams will run the world one day.  Oddly enough that day may be today, as science has found a way to produce power simply by touching a device.  The downside, of course, is that it is powered by viruses that will probably one day mutate and kill us all directly after they have been installed into ever facet of our lives.  Even though that is something that will probably happen to our children, and not us, I think that this tech should be whole heartedly embraced.

As impressive as this sounds, a device that generates power simply by touching it, it turns out that things similar to this have been around for a couple of years now—as similar things are in use in dance clubs and train station floors.  The idea of capturing all of the energy that is produced by human movement and reused in some way is probably something that will be so integrated into our lives in the future that we won’t even think about our chair charging our iPhone as we sit in it, but it is an interesting question how far this is.  Until recently it required more power to make a solar panel than that panel would ever produce and those things have been around forever.  Maybe those killer viruses will just have to go after my grandchildren.

Source: TalkingPointsMemo

Student Builds Working Turret from the Portal Series

A Penn State student found a way to show off his appreciation for the Portal games while completing the final project for the “advanced mechatronics” class.  The turret has a basic skeleton at this time, but the builder claims he will complete a more authentic shell in the future.  The turret tracks targets using image recognition, and is programmed with MATLAB software.

Fortunately this turret is only armed with nerf bullets, so its attacks are non-lethal.  How long will it be until we cower in fear every time we hear “I see you!”? Only time will tell.  In the meantime, watch the video below to see this awesome project in action!

Valve Releases Awesome Trailer for Portal 2’s Level Creator

Portal fans, it’s time to rejoice!  Next month Valve is planning to release a simplified level editor for Portal 2, free.  As an added bonus, they have also made a trailer featuring more antics from Cave Johnson.  Check out the video below to see what awaits in Aperture’s “Perpetual Testing Initiative.”