Tech Universe: Thursday 8 November

By Miraz Jordan

The European Union aim to launch 50 CubeSats into low earth orbit. Photo / Thinkstock
The European Union aim to launch 50 CubeSats into low earth orbit. Photo / Thinkstock

KIWI CUBED: CubeSats are very small satellites — about 10cm x 10cm x 10cm — still big enough to fit a lot of electronics. The European Union plan to launch 50 of them into low earth orbit, as part of a project called QB50. Meanwhile KiwiSpace are hoping to participate in the project by adding experiments to one of the satellites. The QB50 satellites will orbit for up to 90 days, and degrade slowly through the atmosphere. Now KiwiSpace are looking for partners, sponsors and experiments. There must be a heap of New Zealand businesses with out of this world plans to help with sponsorship. Sciblogs explains.

THE WRONG FOOT: One scientist at Idaho State University is so keen to search for evidence of Bigfoot that he wants to build a remote-controlled dirigible for the hunt. Using a thermal-imaging camera the blimp would survey remote forest across parts of the Pacific Northwest, California and Utah and send its findings back to teams on the ground for follow-up.

The Falcon Project hasn't got far yet though as fundraising's the big problem. And what if Bigfoot knows how to hide from scary looking balloons in the sky? MSNBC has further info.

IT'S NOT PAPER: Japan Display's low-power colour reflective LCD displays video and still images by reflecting light from above. The display doesn't have a backlight but uses a liquid crystal shutter to produce a monochrome image. Colour filters allow for a colour image. A Light Control Layer collects light in the direction of the user's eyes, making the display look similar to paper. Two versions of the display have been created: one is highly reflective, with a reflection rate of 40%, and 5% coverage of the NTSC color gamut. The other, still being developed, shows better colour but is dimmer. It sounds like the right kind of display for an ereader, to give people more of a book experience. DigInfo TV details. Video here.

FIREFLY FLASH: Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology studied fireflies and found they have a lot of ordered tiny ridges on their exoskeleton. The ridges help the firefly's particular wavelength of light pass through more effectively. When the researchers created a similar regular and ordered pattern of dots on an LED lens it also allowed more light to pass through. The LED lens uses nanopillars packed into the shape of a honeycomb and works best when the light has a wavelength of 560 nanometers. The technique could help boost light for camera phone screens or flashes, car headlights or residential lighting. Tech News Daily elaborates.

STURDY CELLS: The materials used in photovoltaic devices are expensive, while carbon is abundant and cheap. Scientists at Stanford University have built the first solar cell made entirely of carbon. Graphene and single-walled carbon nanotubes form the electrodes, while carbon nanotubes and buckyballs make up the active layer sandwiched between them. The working thin film prototype uses a carbon coating solution that could be easily applied to windows or walls. Unfortunately the cell is extremely inefficient, but better materials and processing should help. The carbon cells could be useful in extreme environments where they may out-perform conventional devices because they are very robust. That low efficiency is always the problem, it seems. Stanford University has further info.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 20 Dec 2014 15:23:33 Processing Time: 428ms