New tech makes any electric wheelchair autonomous

TORONTO, Canada (Reuters) — Autonomous wheelchair technology that could be retrofitted to any existing electric wheelchair for less than $1,000 USD has been developed by Canadian firm Cyberworks Robotics, Inc and researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T). The technology combines inexpensive off-the-shelf sensors and artificial intelligence. Electric wheelchairs have been around for more than 60 years but their fundamental technology has changed little. “Conventional electric powered wheelchairs use joysticks for their control […]

Black hole in a ‘bathtub’ makes waves for UK scientists

NOTTINGHAM, England (Reuters) — Scientists are unlocking the mysteries of black holes… in a giant bath tub at the University of Nottingham. A team from the Quantum Gravity Laboratory says they have successfully simulated the conditions around black holes and published the first statistical evidence of an effect known as super-radiance, whereby a wave hitting a rotating black hole can extract energy from it. They built a specially designed 3 metre by 1.5 metre tub […]

Mars weather: ‘Cloudy, chance of nighttime snowstorm’

PARIS, France (AFP) — Mars is buffeted by turbulent snowstorms that occur only at night, according to a study released Monday that revises our understanding of Red Planet weather. Up to now, it was thought that snow falling from low-lying Martian clouds settled slowly and sparsely to the ground in a environment bereft of violent winds. The new findings, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggest that ice-water particles swirling in a storm hit the […]

Total solar eclipse begins on US West Coast

by Sébastien VUAGNAT / with Kerry SHERIDAN in Charleston Agence France-Presse MADRAS, United States – Emotional sky-gazers on the US West Coast cheered and applauded Monday as the Sun briefly vanished behind the Moon — a rare total solar eclipse that will stretch across North America for the first time in nearly a century. Eclipse chasers and amateur star watchers alike converged in cities along the path of totality, a 70-mile (113-kilometer) wide path running through 14 […]

Millions pour into US towns in path of total eclipse

by Kerry Sheridan Agence France Presse CHARLESTON, United States (AFP) — On Monday, when a total solar eclipse sweeps across the United States for the first time in 99 years, people gathering in Charleston, South Carolina, will be the last on the continent to experience it. They are ready. Historic Charleston, with its cobblestone streets and elegant antebellum mansions, was clearly a-bustle on Sunday, in full pre-eclipse mode. Its restaurants were packed and downtown parking […]

America’s total eclipse a ‘once in a lifetime event’ – NASA scientist

(Reuters) — America’s coast-to-coast total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 is a must-see, “once in a lifetime event,” a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said on Wednesday. Michelle Thaller also urged the public to use safety glasses or other homemade devices to avoid looking directly at the sun. “It’s never safe to look at the sun with unprotected eyes. If even a little bit of the sun’s surface is still exposed you can hurt […]

300x faster WiFi promised by light ray technique

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (Reuters) — Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) researchers say their new wireless network based on harmless infrared rays will mark a sea change in WiFi delivery if rolled out globally. Researcher Joanne Oh and professor of broadband communication technology Ton Koonen have devised a system in which wireless data is delivered by central ‘light antennas’. A wavelength demultiplexing unit separates individual wavelengths coming from a laser into multiple separate fibres, each of which […]

Nigerian innovator uses app to fight food waste

ABUJA, Nigeria (Reuters) — Nigerian entrepreneur, Oscar Ekponimo is working to reduce food waste in Nigeria by getting stores to donate groceries they don’t need to poor families. The software engineer has developed a web app known as Chowberry which enables charities shop for products that are about to expire at a discounted price. The organizations later distribute the products to children’s homes and low-income communities. Ekponimo says his own experiences growing up without enough […]

Los Angeles tests cooling pavement paint to beat heat

LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP ) — Can a splash of gray pavement paint help combat global warming? In Los Angeles, where summer temperatures regularly surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), workers are coating streets in special gray treatments in a bid to do just that. The City of Angels, home to four million people, is the first major city to test the technology. Normal black asphalt absorbs 80 to 95 percent of sunlight, while the gray “cool […]

SpaceX to launch supercomputer to space

by Kerry Sheridan Agence France-Presse MIAMI, United States (AFP) – SpaceX is poised to launch an unmanned cargo ship toward the International Space Station Monday, including a super-computer that could direct astronauts on future deep-space missions. The liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Dragon cargo ship, is planned for 12:31 pm (1631 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The weather forecast is 70 percent favorable for launch. The mission is the 12th official trip […]

Moroccan scientists develop machine that milks scorpions for cancer research

  Extracting venom from scorpions can be a dangerous task. The poisonous secretion can be fatal to humans but the venom, when broken down at a molecular level, contains hundreds of components that can be used in cancer research and to develop new drugs. Manual extraction can also be harmful for the scorpions, as there is a risk of puncturing the venom gland. Now scientists at Morocco’s Ben M’sik Hassan II University have found a […]