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Showing posts with label gadgets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gadgets. Show all posts

Saturday, 30 August 2014

NASA’s Space Launch System is officially all systems go for Mars and Moon landings

Artist concept of the Space Launch System

NASA’s Space Launch System, the USA’s first exploration-class spacecraft since the Space Shuttle, has officially passed the whiteboard formulation stage and moved into full-scale development. The SLS, which will be the most powerful rocket ever built, will allow NASA to land astronauts on Mars and captured asteroids, and perhaps other planets and moons throughout the Solar System as well. The first SLS mission should lift off no later than 2018, sending the Orion capsule around the Moon. Asteroid- and Mars-bound missions should follow a few years after that. The question is, will NASA be the first to send humans to Mars (probably no sooner than 2032) — or will a commercial company such as SpaceX get there much earlier?
NASA began the SLS’s design process way back in 2011. At the time, we knew the stated goal of the SLS – to try and re-use as many Space Shuttle components as possible, to get back into deep space as quickly and as cost effectively as possible — but we didn’t know exactly what form the SLS would take. Now that the formulation stage has been completed, and focus has shifted to actually developing and fabricating the launch system’s millions of constituent components, we have a very firm idea of what the SLS will be capable of, and thus what kind of missions NASA will task the SLS with.
Space Shuttle main engine test fire
A test-firing of the Space Shuttle Main Engine, which will be reused on the Space Launch System
The Space Launch System is broken up into blocks. Block I, the first and most simple design, consists of a core stage that’s lifted almost straight from the Space Shuttle: It has two Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters (SSRBs), and a first stage that’s fashioned out of a converted Space Shuttle External Tank (that big red cylinder thing — but on the SLS it’ll be painted white). Together with a modified Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (modified from the Delta IV), Block I will be able to lift around 70 metric tons (154,000 lbs) into low-Earth orbit. There is only expected to be one launch of the Block I variant. If all goes to plan, it will launch sometime in 2017 or 2018 and send an uncrewed Orion capsule on a circumlunar orbit around the dark side of the Moon.
The next variant of the SLS, Block IB, will use the same core stage as Block I — but instead of the modified Delta IV second stage, it’ll have the brand-new Exploration Upper Stage. The EUS has a lot of fuel and four RL10 rocket engines, boosting the total payload capacity to around 110 metric tons to LEO. Finally, at some point in the 2030s, Block II will arrive, which replaces the two SSRBs with new, “advanced boosters.” Block II will be capable of lifting around 155 metric tons to LEO.
The launch of the Apollo 11 mission, aboard Saturn V rocket SA-506
The launch of the Apollo 11 mission, aboard Saturn V rocket SA-506. 34,020,000 newtons of thrust from five massive F-1 rocket engines that each burned around 3 tons of fuel per second. The Saturn V is still the most powerful space launch vehicle ever used.
Read our featured story: The Space Shuttle legacy in pictures
By comparison, the Saturn V — which took NASA astronauts to the Moon — had a max LEO payload capacity of 118 metric tons, but it has long since been retired. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, which is a much smaller and cheaper rocket than the SLS, will be able to put 55 metric tons into LEO. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, there aren’t really any heavy lift launchers in operation: Ariane 5 (Arianespace) can only do 21 metric tons to LEO, while Delta IV (United Launch Alliance) can do 29 metric tons to LEO.
In short, NASA’s Space Launch System should be by far the most powerful operational rocket when it arrives in 2017-2018. SpaceX could decide to up-rate the Falcon Heavy, but I doubt it: With Falcon Heavy, SpaceX wants to compete with United Launch Alliance and Arianespace, which currently own the (incredibly lucrative) heavy lift market. A payload capacity of 55 tons is more than enough for that purpose. You only shoot for a capacity of 150 tons if you’re aiming at targets that are much farther than geostationary orbit — such as landing on the Moon or Mars or Europa.
Orion spacecraft
A rendering of the Orion spacecraft
The SLS’s primary payload will be the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), though it will undoubtedly be used to send other large spacecraft into deep space. The Orion capsule is what NASA will use to land astronauts on the Moon, captured asteroids, Mars, and any other interesting lumps of rock throughout the Solar System. The first manned Orion launch, to a captured asteroid in lunar orbit, is scheduled to occur in 2021. Combined with SpaceX’s crewed Dragon spacecraft and Boeing’s CST-100, things are looking up for human space exploration!

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Saturday, 30 August 2014

9 Nearly Worthless Gadgets You're Hanging Onto for Dear Life


You can't put a price on childhood memories, which explains why most of your favorite toys and gadgets from childhood aren't worth squat.
Now, you can still make a nice profit off unopened, exceedingly well-maintained or rare items from your younger days, but the majority of your prized possessions are too new to be artifacts and too old to be useful
Before you try to sell your childhood dreams away, check out the nine items that have much more sentimental value than market value. And if you decide to junk them, think about donating orrecycling.

1. Most of your old sports video games


Madden NFL 2000 might be worth a lot sentimentally, but not much monetarily.
You might treasure the afternoons you wasted away with your friends playing Madden NFL 2000and High Heat Baseball, but the games themselves are almost worthless. According toPriceCharting, which records listing prices for video games on eBayAmazon and, most sports games for Nintendo 64 and Playstation all start at about $3.

2. Super Soaker


This meant war.
Nothing said summer like pumping this cumbersome canon until it squealed and subsequently nailing your best friend in the eye. Unfortunately, a used Super Soaker probably won't get you more than $20 on eBay since they're still being made today — albeit with a little less power.

4. Sony Walkman cassette players


Better for pumping out the jams then pumping in cash.
Speaking of obsolete ways to rock out, don't bother trying to sell your Walkman cassette player. If anything, digging up that old copy of Backstreet Boys' "Black & Blue" and finally coming to terms with those grade-school crushes might be more valuable.
Some from the 1970s and '80s can fetch hundreds of dollars in near-mint condition, but the one you rocked in the '90s won't get much more than $25.

5. iMac G3


Pretty, but worthless.
Yes, they're pretty and colorful, and yes, you can actually get about $150 for one if you manage to sell it. However, that's exceedingly difficult to do on eBay, where listings for the computers get little love with slashed prices.

6. Tamagotchi


There are 75 million of these things in world, making yours inexpensive.
These virtual pocket pets might have you caused you (and your teachers) a lot of stress back in the day, but that won't amount to much profit. Tamagotchi are still made today — there's even an app now. By 2010 there were roughly 75 million around the world. Not rare = not too valuable.

7. Casio Calculator Watch


It's time to stop trying to sell these.
While the calculator watch had a heyday in the 1980s, it's been rendered obsolete by modern inventions, like PDAs, cellphones and fashion. Some modern top-of-the-line models go for a nice price, but the numbers aren't in your favor if you list a standard version. You'll be lucky to get more than $15.

8. Palm Pilots and other PDAs


Relics from a land before smartphones.
Another victim of the proliferation of smartphones, PDAs serve little purpose or utility now. And since it hasn't been too long since they were used, there's little nostalgia factor to drive up the price. High-tech models from the past decade may get you $40, but basic and older PDAs barely scratch $20.

9. Boomboxes


A TV in a boombox might be the only thing to make it worth something.
With all due respect to Radio Raheem, the boombox's glory days are long gone, and so is any chance you had to make some money off of it. While the boombox carries unique musical and cultural value, that won't translate into cash.
Some rare vintage models will go for $50, but the rest fall somewhere between $15 and $25.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

BONUS: 8 Modern Gadgets That Look Like They Macarena'd Out of the '90s

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on

Friday, 8 August 2014

New Wearable Baby Monitor Is Like a Fitbit for Infants


A new wearable for babies is trying to give parents some peace of mind, and maybe a few extra hours of sleep.
Sproutling launched its pre-order campaign on Thursday, billing itself as the "world's smartest baby monitor." Designed by a team of former Apple and Google engineers, pediatric specialists and new parents, the product works as a kind of Fitbit for infants, measuring vital signs and providing insights on sleep patterns and mood.
Sproutling says its product customizes itself to each baby's habits, learning the child's sleep cycle and heart rate and alerting parents of any abnormalities. Parents can learn what's "normal" for each newborn, such as heart rate.
The Sproutling wearable band sits in its charging base.

The Sproutling wearable band sits in its charging base.
The Sproutling system is made up of three parts: a wearable band, a smart charger and a mobile app. The rubber-coated, hypoallergenic band is washing-machine safe and contains a sensor that monitors heart rate, temperature and motion. The device's battery lasts about three days and can be dropped into its base station for wireless charging. The third part of the Sproutling system is the mobile app, which relays the information documented by the device.
The app uses data to predict when the baby will wake up, and it tries to determine what mood the baby is in before parents even walk in the room. Access to the app can be granted to multiple people, including babysitters and other caretakers. Sproutling can also notify users in case of emergency, like if the baby's heart rate or skin temperature changes significantly, or if an infant rolls over.
a screen of an app says "austin is sleeping he will wake up in about 45 minutes and "it's a little loud, austin may wake up"
High-tech baby monitors are not new, with app-enabled devices like Belkin WeMo baby, BabyPing and iBaby providing parents with mobile audio and video of their baby. However, Sproutling wants to expand the scope of information a baby monitor can relay.
Although the product is not set to launch officially until March 2015, parents can pre-order online now for $249. Sproutling will retail for $299 when it hits the market.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Friday, 8 August 2014

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Android Wear First Look: Samsung and LG Put Alerts on Your Wrist

Android Wear is here. When Google first unveiled its wearable platform in May, the products looked impressive, but they hadn't been seen in the wild. At Google I/O 2014, the first Android Wear devices, the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, are out and proud.
The G Watch and Gear Live are very similar. Before they're officially on sale, the samples here at the show will only run in "retail" mode, meaning they only show sample notifications from Android Wear. At least they're interactive — you can swipe and tap on them, but I couldn't dive that deep
The watch faces are slightly different — the Gear Live has hints of silver trim while the G Watch goes with basic black — but they both have the same rectangular shape, and the screens are virtually the same size (a 1.65-inch square for the G Watch and 1.63-inch for the Gear Live).
The screens may be the same size, and even look the same, but there's different tech under the hood. Samsung's is a SuperAMOLED screen, like the company's phones, and LG opted for an IPS (in-plane switching) LCD. Both looked great to me.
Android Wear is a different take on the smartwatch than we've seen so far. It's almost entirely focused on notifications — which is a good thing — with different kinds of alerts showing up as Google Now-style "cards" that you can scroll through, up and down.
Swiping to the side lets you perform other actions, depending on the card. For example, the weather card shows you current conditions, but a swipe will show you the forecast. Swiping a Hangout message will let you reply.
Android Wear's whole card paradigm is a stark contrast to other smartwatches like the Samsung Gear 2 and Sony Smartwatch 2, which tend to favor traditional app icons to activate certain functions. Android Wear makes more sense for a small screen — it's easier to gesture than to precisely tap on a tiny icon — but I suspect finding specific features might be more challenging.
Both of the smartwatches are listening to you. Say "O.K., Google," and the watch will accept verbal commands. Set reminders, reply to messages and more. The speech recognition is about as good as Google Glass, which is to say great. When I told the G Watch to remind me to pick up my dry cleaning, it got everything right except the time. Not bad.
Apart from the minor differences in design and the displays, the G Watch and Gear Live provide a near-identical experience. That's probably because they were both in the in-store retail mode, but also because Android Wear is brand new and neither brand has had a chance to really crack it open much yet. I expect the interfaces to add more variety and differentiators as time goes on.
As for Android Wear itself, Google is on the right track by centering it around notifications. I would say 90% of the purpose of a smartwatch is to provide convenient, "glanceable" updates. LG and Samsung appear laser-focused on that purpose — there's virtually no mention of things like fitness or music playback.
As long as the alerts are useful, in context, and not annoying, Google's smartwatch platform will have a bright future. We'll reserve judgment until we can use the watches out of demo mode, but Android Wear adds some needed brains to the category.
  • Android-wear-10

    Samsung Gear Live

    The Samsung Gear Live is one of the first devices to run Android Wear, Google's new smartwatch platform.
  • Android-wear-2

    LG G Watch

    The LG G Watch is very similar to the Gear Live, although it uses different screen technology -- LCD instead of AMOLED.
  • Android-wear-1

    Paired With Phone

    The two watches aren't standalone devices; they need to be paired with a smartphone.
  • Android-wear-11

    Notification Hub

    Android Wear is all about bringing glanceable notifications to your wrist. Here's a message from Google Hangouts.
  • Android-wear-12


    Swiping to the side of a notification reveals more information or actions you can take.
  • Android-wear-3


    In the case of a weather app, swiping to the left shows the forecast.
  • Android-wear-7

    Compared With Sony Smartwatch 2

    Here's how the weather looks different on an Android Wear device vs. the Sony Smartwatch 2, which uses more of a traditional weather app.
  • Android-wear-14

    Voice Activation

    Say "O.K., Google," and an Android Wear device will take voice commands, such as setting a reminder.
  • Android-wear-5

    G Watch Backside

    The back of the G Watch shows the metal connects where you charge it.
  • Android-wear-8

    Gear Live Backside

    The back of the Gear Live reveals the heart-rate monitor -- a staple of Samsung smartwatches.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The First Android Wear Devices Are the Moto 360 and LG G Watch

Moto-360-cafeEarlier this afternoon, Google officially unveiled Android Wear, its new platform for wearables. Now both Motorola and LG have announced Android Wear smartwatches.
Motorola, Google's former-subsidiary apparently has big plans for Android Wear. It's calling its watch the Moto 360. The device is notable because it has a round face — something we haven't seen before in a smartwatch.
Like the Moto X, the Moto 360 is also designed to take advantage of gestures. Twisting a wrist will show an alert or your next meeting. On its blog, Motorola is hyping what it calls "premium materials" and says the Moto 360 will be available in a variety of styles.
LG G Watch

LG's first Android Wear smartwatch is appropriately dubbed the LG G Watch.
LG is calling its device the LG G Watch and the company says it will be compatible with a variety of Android smartphones. LG says it expects to release the G Watch in the second quarter of 2014 — so we should see it in just a few months.
The company released a mockup image, which looks similar to some other smartwatches we've seen — including Sony's Android-powered SmartWatch 2.
LG says it will release more details on the LG G Watch in the coming months.

The Moto 360 will be available in Summer 2014, first in the United States and then in the rest of the world.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Tuesday, 18 March 2014

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