On May 26, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams spent seven hours inflating the first expandable room at the International Space Station. Called Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, the balloon-like structure that measures 10-feet by 13-feet, (about the size of an average bedroom) when fully inflated, is the first prototype of what NASA experts hope will be the space habitat of the future. The compressed module arrived at the ISS aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on April 8 and was put in place outside the Tranquility module by ISS’s robotic arm, Canadarm2.
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On May 9, Japanese online retailer Rakuten announced the nation’s first drone delivery service at Tokyo’s Camel Golf Resort. Called Tenku, the autonomous vehicle, which has the capacity to carry up to 2kg can be summoned by golfers to bring snacks, drinks, and even equipment like balls, while enjoying a round of golf.
Laughter, be it a loud guffaw or a well-mannered giggle, is a universal way to express joy. But as it turns out, your chuckle reveals a lot more than the fact that you are happy. It enables listeners, even those that cannot observe you, instantly realize if you are having a good time with a close friend or laughing politely with a complete stranger.
Though the detrimental impact of plastic waste on the environment is well-known, consumption of drinks bottled in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) —the most commonly used polymer — continues to rise at alarming levels. According to experts, over 22,000 plastic bottles are discarded every second, and the numbers are only growing. While a fraction of them do get recycled, most end up in the ocean, where they disintegrate into smaller pieces and are often mistaken for food by innocent fish and birds.
Most airlines go all out to ensure their passengers have the best possible flight experience. Now, Europe’s low-budget airline easyJet, wants to extend the positive experience beyond the plane ride with “Sneakairs” — Smart shoes that allow visitors to explore new cities and towns without ever looking at a map.
Hundreds of thousands of hearing-impaired people in the United States and many parts of Canada rely solely on American Sign Language (ASL) for communication. But popular as the language is, there are millions of people with normal hearing that are unable to decipher the hand and finger gestures. That may change soon thanks to the ingenious “SignAloud” glove that converts sign language into speech.
Twenty-four-year-old Ohio resident Ian Burkhart had lost all hope of being able to move his limbs again after a tragic diving accident left him paralyzed, six years ago. But on April 13, doctors from The Ohio State University and Battelle Memorial Institute reported that for the first time in medical history, they had been able to restore movement to the young man’s fingers without the use of external prosthetics. This means that Ian can now perform tasks like brushing his teeth, pouring water into a glass, and even playing Guitar Hero by just thinking about them. Though these may seem like small feats, they are tremendous achievements for someone whose body has been totally lifeless for many years.
In 2014, marine biologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer David Gruber was on a nighttime dive to observe biofluorescent corals when he noticed a bright green eel darting across. This was the first time biofluorescence had been witnessed in a vertebrate. Curious to see if there were more such creatures just waiting to be discovered, Gruber and his team began combing through coral reefs around the world. Sure enough, they found that 180 species of animals, including bony fishes, reptiles, and even the hawksbill sea turtle, have the capability to “glow”, in the deep dark ocean waters.