Tech Universe: Monday 9 July

By Miraz Jordan

They say, 'No man is an island,' however, it seems that sentiment need not apply to yachts. Above is a promotional image of Orsos Island which double duties as a little yacht. Photo / http://orsosisland.com/
They say, 'No man is an island,' however, it seems that sentiment need not apply to yachts. Above is a promotional image of Orsos Island which double duties as a little yacht. Photo / http://orsosisland.com/

ISLAND MOVES: Orsos Island may be hard to find, because it's not only a 1000 square metre island but also a yacht. The yacht is 20 metres wide, 37 metres long and covered in 160 square metres of solar panels. It has six double bedrooms plus crew quarters, and an entertainment room. Two diesel engines help it move from place to place, but only locally — longer journeys require a tow boat. There's no sand though; what's an island with no sand? CNN explains.

GO LONG: One problem with electronics is that they don't stretch or bend and that makes them harder to use inside the human body for purposes such as medical monitoring. Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering combined a porous polymer and liquid metal to create flexible electronics. The electronics can bend and stretch to more than 200 per cent of their original size without losing their electrical conductivity.

But you have to wonder how the body reacts to materials like that. McCormick News details.

ROBOT ARMS: Working in a science lab may mean long hours of precise, repetitive and boring work, making cultures or dispensing exact amounts of a material. So who better to do that work than a robot? Mahoro, from Nikkyo Technos, is a general-purpose android for automating lab work. It's faster and more precise than a human and can do clinical tests and work efficiently with biohazards. The scientists use a 3D scanner to capture 3D CAD data for all the tools and then create a virtual bench and a virtual robot. After a few clicks they've taught the robot how to do the task. Hooray for 3D scanners too. DigInfo TV has more.

TAKE A DARE: When astronomers try to find out about the universe they have a lot to contend with: Earth's atmosphere, radio signals, light from the sun. One reason they send telescopes into orbit is to reduce some of those problems. Now the search for a quiet, dark spot is taking them to the Moon to listen to radio waves at frequencies below 100 megahertz, hoping to spot ancient neutral hydrogen. The Dark Ages Radio Explorer hopes to put a telescope above the dark side of the moon where it would be shielded from Earth's chatter. One big problem: NASA has to select DARE for a mission. Let's hope they take that chance. New Scientist elaborates.

FILTERED WATER: We can't drink salt water, unfortunately, and desalination plants are expensive. MIT researchers are using computer simulations of sheets of graphene with precisely sized holes to filter the unwanted substances out of water and make it drinkable. The ideal size for the holes is one nanometre, as water molecules fit through but the salts can't. Such sieves should be cheaper and require less energy to do their work than current filtration membranes. The team plan to build prototypes soon. Such tiny things for such a huge effect. MIT News finds out the info. Check out the video.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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