NASA's Dawn spacecraft is examining Vesta in detailed closeup. Dawn will orbit the asteroid for a year and then move on to dwarf planet Ceres. At 530 Km across many astronomers classify the pockmarked Vesta as a protoplanet that could have developed into another Earth or Mars. It, umm, looks like an asteroid. Read more at

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MONEY FOR CONCRETE: The 1 Km tall Kingdom Tower is starting to take shape with the first actual rendering from Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. Tenders are out in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and construction is expected to begin soon. The tower itself will cost $1.2 billion to build, while the entire Kingdom City project may cost $20 billion. Plans include an outdoor space at level 157 that sticks out from the side of the building. Conspicuous. Wealth. Gizmodo has the write-up.

PUT IT ON THE PLASTIC: It's made of plastic and is about the size of a credit card. Its components cost only a few cents, but it can detect AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, about as well as a setup costing thousands. The mChip, or mobile microfluidic chip, from Columbia University needs only a tiny drop of blood. The blood is circulated through carefully designed channels that trap antibodies. A layer of solid silver grows and light measures the thickness of the silver, giving a quantitative result that doesn't rely on skilled interpretation. Cheap and easy to use saves lives. Columbia University has more. Also, check out the video here.

TEA. HOT. GREEN.: Tokyo Institute of Technology have created a robot that can think and learn for itself using a Self-Organising Incremental Neural Network. This capability allows the robot to act when conditions change and its programming is no longer sufficient. It can learn new instructions, perhaps from other robots on the Internet and apply previous learning to new situations. So a British robot may teach a Japanese robot how to make a cup of black tea, and the Japanese robot could apply that learning to make green tea. Wired explains. Here's the video.

BRAINY BRAKES: If you're driving and need to slam on the brakes in a hurry every moment counts. But there's a tiny gap between the thinking and the acting. Researchers at the Berlin Institute of Technology in Germany had drivers on a simulator wear an EEG cap. They discovered which part of the brain activates when drivers have to apply the brakes in an emergency. Having the the driver's thoughts activate the simulator's brakes shaved a tenth of a second off how long it took to stop. Good, but how to do it without the skullcap? io9 has more details. To see it in action, check out the video.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz