Japan has launched a miniature space elevator
- It will be used to test the viability of a full-sized space elevator.
- Questions still remain about what materials could be used to build the elevator.
- If successful, a space elevator would be a cheaper way of reaching space.
On September 22nd — after waiting out a delay imposed by Typhoon Mangkhut — a satellite launched containing a miniature space elevator designed by researchers at Shizuoka University. It intends to serve as a test model of a future space elevator that the Obayashi Corp. hopes to construct in the next 30 years.
The idea of a space elevator was first inspired by a Russian recluse scientist named Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who, in observing the Eiffel Tower, imagined a "celestial castle" attached to it in geosynchronous Earth orbit.
Though there is a practical draw to consider here — a space elevator is an appealing project because it would, in theory, cost less to send something up a space elevator than via a rocket — there are other hard practical realities to consider as well. As Jason Daley notes in Smithsonian, there is currently no material strong enough to work as the elevator's cables are supposed to work. "Even carbon nanotubes," he writes, "the strongest material we've devised so far, would shred under the stress."
How should a space elevator work, anyway? Well — the further we get from the earth, the greater the likelihood that whatever is escaping earth will encounter centrifugal force. There is a point between earth and space where the gravitational tug and centrifugal force are perfectly balanced against each other. That's called the 'geosynchronous equatorial orbit.' It's here that Obayashi imagines a space station of some kind. Beyond the floating structure occupying this point — at the other end of the line — would be a weight. The combination of this weight and the centrifugal force of the weight pulling on the other end of this line would keep the 'elevator' line in place.
Though this isn't explicitly stated, one would imagine that one benefit of testing a mini-space elevator would be in testing how well this machine in miniature works at a certain level of gravity.
What else would need to be tested? What sort of elevator cable material could withstand space debris, be strong enough to hold weights going up and down the line, and also potentially change size the further it gets away from the reach of the gravity of the planet, for one. Perhaps there can be a collaboration with the British RemoveDebris Mission, where a net is fired out into space to wrap itself web-like around any potential passing debris.
The full extent of Obayashi's plans are ambitious. It isn't just the elevator they're building; if the video on their landing page is any indication, they're planning to build a slew of things. From a structure at the Mars Gravity Center — a point above the earth where the gravity is the same as it is on Mars — to a "Low Earth Orbit" gate from which one can deploy satellites back to earth.
The goal is to have the elevator completed, up and running, by 2050.
The new version's battery has a shorter range and a price $4,000 lower than the previous starting price.
- Tesla's new version of the Model 3 costs $45,000 and can travel 260 miles on one charge.
- The Model 3 is the best-selling luxury car in the U.S.
- Tesla still has yet to introduce a fully self-driving car, even though it once offered the capability as an option to be installed at a future date.
What makes an excellent educator?
- When it comes to educating, says Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, a brave failure is preferable to timid success.
- Fostering an environment where one isn't afraid to fail is tantamount to learning.
- Human beings are complicated and flawed. Working with those complications and flaws leads to true knowledge.
"It's about having employees that are empowered."
Denmark may be the birthplace of the Lego tower, but its workplace hierarchy is the flattest in the world.
According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2018, the nation tops an index measuring "willingness to delegate authority" at work, beating 139 other countries.
We all know sleeping with your ex is a bad idea, or is it?
- In the first study of its kind, researchers have found sex with an ex didn't prevent people from getting over their relationship.
- Instead of feeling worse about their breakup after a hookup, the new singles who attempted sexual contact with their ex reported feeling better afterwards.
- The findings suggest that not every piece of relationship advice is to be taken at face value.
It's hard to imagine such a number. But these images will help you try.
The Mega Millions lottery just passed $1 billion for tonight's drawing.
What does that even look like, when represented by various currencies?
It takes just 6 numbers to win. You can only, however, purchase tickets up until 10:45 ET tonight.
Want a happy, satisfying relationship? Psychologists say the best way is to learn to take a joke.
- New research looks at how partners' attitudes toward humor affects the overall quality of a relationship.
- Out of the three basic types of people, people who love to be laughed at made for better partners.
- Fine-tuning your sense of humor might be the secret to a healthy, happy, and committed relationship.
Tiny and efficient, these biodegradable single cells show promise as a way to target hard-to-reach cancers.
- Scientists in Germany have found a potential improvement on the idea of bacteria delivering medicine.
- This kind of microtargeting could be useful in cancer treatments.
- The microswimmers are biodegradable and easy to produce.
Metin Sitti and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute in Germany recently demonstrated that tiny drugs could be attached to individual algae cells and that those algae cells could then be directed through body-like fluid by a magnetic field.
The results were recently published in Advanced Materials, and the paper as a whole offers up a striking portrait of precision and usefulness, perhaps loosely comparable in overall quality to recent work done by The Yale Quantum Institute. It begins by noting that medicine has been attached to bacteria cells before, but bacteria can multiply and end up causing more harm than good.
A potential solution to the problem seems to have been found in an algal cell: the intended object of delivery is given a different electrical charge than the algal cell, which helps attach the object to the cell. The movement of the algae was then tested in 2D and 3D. (The study calls this cell a 'microswimmer.') It would later be found that "3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers increased more than twofold compared to their 2D mean swimming speed." The study continues —
More interestingly, 3D mean swimming speed of the algal microswimmers in the presence of a uniform magnetic field in the x-direction was approximately threefolds higher than their 2D mean swimming speed.
After the 2D and 3D speed of the algal was examined, it was then tested in something made to approximate human fluid, including what they call 'human tubal fluid' (think of the fallopian tubes), plasma, and blood. They then moved to test the compatibility of the microswimmer with cervical cancer cells, ovarian cancer cells, and healthy cells. They found that the microswimmer didn't follow the path of bacteria cells and create something toxic.
The next logical steps from the study include testing this inside a living organism in order to assess the safety of the procedure. Potential future research could include examining how effective this method of drug delivery could be in targeting "diseases in deep body locations," as in, the reproductive and gastrointestinal tracts.
Our modern-day Kafka on his new novel Lake Success and the dark comedy that in 2018 pretty much writes itself
- riding the Greyhounds of hell, from New York to El Paso
- the alternate reality of hedge fund traders
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