LEGO have just revealed the next fan-designed (by Maia Weinstock) set which celebrates the women who have played key roles in the history of the US space program. This new set should hit the shelves by early 2018.

The women featured in the "Women of NASA" set include Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist from MIT who helped develop flight software for the Apollo moon missions. Katherine Johnson, a mathematician and NASA researcher who helped calculate trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs. Sally Ride, a physicist who became the first American woman in space in 1983. Nancy Grace Roman, (aka "Mother of Hubble") an astronomer and NASA executive who played a key role in making the Hubble Space Telescope a success. Mae Jemison, a physician who became the first African-American woman in space in 1992.

NASA's recent discovery of a stunning seven planets, all with liquid water and habitable conditions, is our best chance yet of answering the question "Are we alone?" This cluster of Earth-size planets, discovered by the Spitzer Space telescope, lie about 40 light-years from Earth, which is relatively close by.

As NASA prepares to send humans to Mars it needs a new method of handling human waste, as astronauts may have to spend longer periods of time in their space suits. To tackle this problem NASA launched a Space Poo competition, and the winners have been announced. More than 5,000 ideas were submitted, follow the link to read about the first, second, and third placed ideas.

A group of scientists led by the Carnegie Institute of Science have released a huge database of 1600 nearby stars, and they need your help discovering the next exoplanet. This database contains data collected over the last two decades by the High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES) located in Hawaii.

Battle Cancer and raise money for kids with life-threatening illnesses. A new Xbox One game, "I, Hope", which goes on sale next year battles an enemy named Cancer providing a cathartic and figurative way for young people to fight their illness, alongside medicine. What's more, the indie studio producing the game, Arconyx, will also donate 100% of the profits generated from selling the game towards helping kids with life-threatening illnesses.

NASA's new public web portal, known as PubSpace, provides a simple way for you to check through its research, for free, by downloading the original data. “Through open access and innovation we invite the global community to join us in exploring Earth, air and space.” said NASA deputy Administrator Dava Newman.

Israeli physicists have found the strongest evidence yet to support Stephen Hawking's prediction (made in the 1970s) that black holes evaporate over time, emitting tiny amounts of radiation in the process. Via a process known as "Hawking Radiation", a quantum mechanical process, virtual particles can pop in and out of existence over such short time frames that they don't violate the laws of physics. However, if a virtual pair of particles appeared at the event horizon of a black hole (the point of no return) and only one of the pair fell inside, it would appear as if the black hole were emitting particles of light, losing mass in the process.

By measuring how the forces between noble gas atoms and a single xenon atom vary with distance, physicists have succeeded in measuring the very weak van der Waals forces between individual atoms for the first time.

 

Although very weak, van der Waals forces are hugely significant in nature as they relate to cohesion, adhesion and friction. Without these forces a gecko would not be able to climb a tree, for example.

You may have recently seen a video of a T-Handle spinning in a very strange way on board the International Space Station. As it rotates it also flips, but why? This strange phenomenon only happens in zero-G, and it only happens when you rotate the the object along what is referred to as the intermediate axis. It happens because it's trying to spin itself on the more stable large or small axes instead.

Well-known costume designer Jose Fernandez, who clothed superheroes in Batman vs. Superman and Captain America: Civil War, has crafted a spacesuit for SpaceX. But this will be unlike any previous job for Fernandez, spacesuits have understandably stricter demands for comfort, durability and safety.

Scientists collaborating from the University of Washington, Warsaw University of Technology (Poland), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a novel model to understand what happens during the last stages of the fission process. Surprisingly the model suggests that fission fragments remain connected far longer than expected before the daughter nuclei split apart. The model is also able to predict a kinetic energy in agreement with results from experimental observations, indicating that complex calculations of fission dynamics are feasible.

CERN has published more than 300 terabytes of LHC data online for free, which includes around 250 trillion particle collisions. It has been released in two formats: "primary datasets" used by CERN researchers, and lightweight "derived datasets" intended to be accessed by a wider audience. CERN says the latter "require a lot less computing power [to process] and can be readily analyzed by university or high-school students."

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Queen Mary University have successfully simulated a five-dimensional black hole consisting of bulges and thin strings. These thin strings get thinner over time and eventually pinch off into a series of miniature black holes. However, such an object could only exist in a universe with five of more dimensions, but if it does exist it could break down Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Space archaeologist Dr Sarah Parcak won the $1m TED prize to set up a website to crowdsource as yet undiscovered sites around the world. Using satellite imagery and analysis algorithms she hopes to identify subtle changes that could signal hidden human-made structures. Her recent satellite mapping of Egypt has already suggested the existence of 17 previously unknown pyramids, 1000 tombs and 3100 settlements.

Photographs, books and even hard-drives fail after a while, but scientists from the University of Southampton have created a new five-dimensional data format that encodes information in tiny nanostructures in glass. With the ability to store 360 terabytes of data this could be the solution to preserving humanity's collective culture.

Google's Project Loon aims to deliver Internet to remote parts of the world using high-flying balloons. The development phase, although challenging, has finally succeeded in finding the right type of balloon. The next phase is testing, and Google hope to send carriers to Indonesia later this year.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins have reported what they believe to be the first successful attempt to move an artificial arm using mind control. For the experiment a young man with epilepsy was recruited, as he was already scheduled to undergo brain mapping to pinpoint the origin of his seizures, even though he has not lost a limb. The brain recordings were made using 128 electrodes, and allowed the researchers to understand which parts of the brain "lit up" when the man lifted each of his fingers. The information collected was used to control a prosthetic limb developed at Johns Hopkins, each time the patient thought about moving one of his fingers his brain activity would cause the prosthetic to move as well.

Knot theory involves the study of mathematical knots, which differ from real-world knots in that they have no ends, they form closed loops. The study of knots could have applications in security, enabling better encryption systems, or unraveling the mysteries of human DNA.

 

Follow the link below to read about the evolution of knot theory, from its whimsical beginnings to its uses in the modern world.

An official press release stated that gravitational waves have been discovered. The last piece of Einstein's theory of general relativity to be confirmed. Detected at LIGO, gravitational waves are ripples in space-time caused by energetic processes in the universe. But why detect them?

A new device known as the brain machine interface will be implanted in the first in-human trial at The Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2017. It is hoped that this device can return function and mobility to patients with complete paralysis by recording brain activity and converting these signals into electrical commands, without the need for dangerous open brain surgery.

Researchers at RIKEN laboratory, in Japan, suspect a discovery of an atomic nucleus with four neutrons but no protons. This new and baffling nucleus, known as a tetraneutron, would be the first example of an uncharged nucleus, which many theorists say should not exist.

 

Physicists will need to seem more detections before agreeing that it exists, but if they are real then potentially a new kind of inter-neutron force would be required for these nuclei to exist.

MIT engineers have designed a futuristic water-based band-aid which is flexible and sticks to the skin to sense temperature, light-up to provide alerts, and deliver medicine to the skin. It is also believed that electronics coated in this hydrogel may be used not just on the surface of the skin but also inside the body.

The Chinese fusion reactor in the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak, known as EAST, have created a plasma with a temperature of 90 million degrees Farenheit. Getting to these temperatures requires a huge input of energy, so in the long run these temperatures need to be sustained for long periods of time to make them worthwhile.

 

However, it is not the hottest temperature created on Earth, the LHC managed to reach 10 trillion degrees, around 250,000 times hotter than the center of the Sun!

Since it was first isolated in 2004 by researchers at the University of Manchester, there has been a lot of research into finding useful applications for graphene. Recent research has suggested that graphene could be useful in improving the interface between neurons and electrodes in the brain.

 

Recently, robotic arms have been modified to measure the brain's electrical impulses, allowing amputees to control their robotic arms with their mind, just like a normal arm. However, the electrodes required need to be highly sensitive. Too often the modern electrodes suffer from partial or complete loss of signal over time. Graphene has been shown to be a promising material to solve these problems.

Summarised from the link below:

At the moment robots are only capable of completing tasks they have been programmed to do. However, exciting new research into consciousness could pave the way for the creation of intuitive artificial intelligence. Researchers at Monash University aim to determine whether robots and computers are capable of consciousness.

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