Tech Universe: Monday 2 July

By Miraz Jordan

If you've ever dreamt of visiting the moon, here's your chance, for a mere £100 million. Photo / Thinkstock
If you've ever dreamt of visiting the moon, here's your chance, for a mere £100 million. Photo / Thinkstock

FLY ME TO THE MOON: Make out a cheque for £100 million (NZ$195.9 million) to Excalibur Almaz and they'll fly you to the Moon (and back). The commercial aerospace company based on the Isle of Man will take you to Lunar orbit in used Soviet spacecraft, maybe as soon as 2015. Soyuz-FG rockets will launch reusable re-entry vehicles into a low Earth orbit where they'll dock with habitation modules that have their own propulsion systems. That'll be the start of a 6 month computer-controlled round trip to lunar orbit. Sorry, but transfers to the Lunar surface are your own responsibility. Daily Mail elaborates.

CHARGE YOUR BEER: Thanks to materials scientists and chemists from the USA and Belgium we may one day be able to paint a battery on to almost any surface. The team painted layers of lithium cobalt oxide, gel electrolytes, lithium titanium oxide and copper to create a cathode, separator, anode and negative current collector respectively onto various surfaces.

The battery worked on each surface, including a beer stein. One problem is that the gel electrolytes explode on contact with air, so you won't be creating these batteries in the garden shed just yet. Scientific American explains.

PHONE FRIENDS: Ford Keyfree is a smartphone app that works with Google Chrome to log you in to Facebook, Google, and Twitter without entering passwords. Bluetooth identifiers mean that your phone acts as a key. Oh, and the Ford in the name? Yes, the app comes from the car company. So: don't lose your phone. FastCo Design details.

CLEANER STUFF: The global maritime industry accounts for 3% of global CO2 emissions, and yet the world relies on cargo ships for carrying goods from one place to another. B9 ships will be powered by sail most of the time and by biofuels when the wind's not enough. Unlike ships of old though sailors won't be heaving on ropes as the wind changes. Instead carbon fibre masts support the sails and the sails are controlled by computer. Ah, clean energy, so we can feel better about all the stuff that gets shipped around the world. B9 Shipping has more. Check out the video.

BULLET MARKS: Copper and zinc ions from spent bullet casings break down the DNA that could be useful for identifying who loaded the gun. A UK team has come up with a way to manufacture bullets with a forensic coating that can trap skin cells. They first use aluminium oxide and urea to roughen the surface of the bullet. That leaves an abrasive surface that can catch skin cells. Then they use sticky pollen grains from the Easter Lily, coated in titanium dioxide and liquid plastic to cover the bottom of the bullet. That coating sticks to the hands of suspects and can be used to identify them. Moral of the story: wear gloves when handling bullets. New Scientist has further info.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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