You may have heard about nanotechnology enhanced pants that keep that wine stay away or even a nanotech tennis racket. But if nanotechnology is truly set to revolutionize the world we live in what benefits can the poorest people of the world expect to see?
According to a 2005 study these are the areas we should focus on first:
Not surprisingly energy tops the list. According to Singer easy access to cheap energy will lead to a great deal of economic growth in the developing world. Here at the Buzz we have covered several nanotechnology energy advances that might come to market in the future. super cheap solar cells, nano ultracapacitors from MIT, nano products now.
Look for more info on some exhibits we will be rolling out soon on nanotech's impact on energy and the environment.
The BB-sized spherules are thought to be composed of hematite, iron oxide that leaches out of the soil as ground water rises up through it. Three years ago, when Opportunity first landed on Mars, millions of the tiny concretions were seen covering the Martian surface around its landing site at Eagle crater. A depression containing a concentration of the berries allowed Opportunity’s Mössbauer spectrometer (an instrument designed to identify iron-bearing minerals) to analyze the spheres’ composition. The test results displayed typical outcrop characteristics, but showed intense hematite signature.
Scientists think the concretions are similar to those found on Earth in the Utah desert, and elsewhere. Commonly called “Moqui Marbles”, these larger concretions litter the ground in many areas in the Utah desert, and are cherished among New-Age devotees for their supposed metaphysical powers.
I found similar concretions at Como Bluff in Wyoming last fall. Como is an historic dinosaur bone yard carved out of an anticline just north of Laramie. The well-known Morrison Formation , from which the dinosaur fossils weather out, is composed of river and floodplain deposits laid down during the Late Jurassic Period. The Morrison outcrops in a number of western states.
Concretions on Earth form when ground water rises up through strata of compacted soil, seeping into joints and between layers, where minerals in the water precipitate out slowly over long periods of time. Scientists believe the same process has taken place on Mars.
As Opportunity moved across Meridiani Planum and upwards toward the rim of Victoria, the number and size of blueberries has decreased. But as the rover’s neared Victoria’s rim, the trend has reversed.
The terrain there was "full of great big juicy blueberries again," said rover chief scientist Steven Squyres last month at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco. "That was a surprise to us."
The impact that created Victoria Crater smashed deep below the surface and into the blueberry layer, throwing thousands of the concretions around the crater’s rim.
The concretions add to the growing evidence of water on the Red Planet. During it’s trek toward Victoria, Opportunity spotted ripple marks in Endurance crater leading scientists to speculate that water, which is mostly present underground, sometimes flows out on the surface. Recent gully activity was also noticed just a few weeks ago in photos taken by the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor.
Just how deep the water level is won't be known until Opportunity descends into the Victoria Crater in a few months, and studies the outcrops there.
"As we go down, we'll cross a bathtub ring," marking the highest level the water reached, Squyres said.
One of the greatest threats to public health these days, especially in developing countries, is poor water quality. Everyone needs water to live, right? But if that water isn’t clean, it can lead to a ton of health problems. Some estimates figure that 6,000 people die each day due to health complications from drinking poor water.
Solving big problems usually takes big solutions. But a Swiss weaving company have developed an easy, low-cost way to get around the problems of drinking impure water. It’s developed a device called LifeStraw.
It’s a portable water purifying system. People can wear a LifeStraw around their neck and use it to safely slurp up surface water from just about any natural location. The ten-inch-long tube contains a series of fabric filters inside. Those filters can screen out nearly all micro organisms that carry water-borne diseases, including diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid and choler. The filters are fine enough to screen out particles that are up to 15 micorns small.
The makers of LifeStraw say their product can last for about a year until it needs to be replaced, processing about 700 liters of water in its life time. That averages out to about two liters a day, the size of a large soda pop bottle.
There is some minimal maintenance required with a LifeStraw. Users occasionally need to blow out their last gulp of water plus some air through the straw to clean out the filters and any silt or mud that may get drawn into the straw.
What’s really remarkable about this is the price tag for LifeStraw. Each device costs $3. But you’re not going to find them on the shelves of Wal-Mart, Target or a grocery store.
LifeStraw’s parent company, Vestergaard Frandsen sells LifeStraws in bulk quantities to charitable groups who then get them to needy areas of the world through service projects. Rotary Clubs in Great Britain are among the biggest participants in the LifeStraw distribution effort.
More information on how to get involved in distributing LifeStraws is available at the organization’s website: www.lifestraw.com
There’s growing photo evidence that water occasionally flows on the surface of Mars.
Photos from a NASA Mars orbiter taken over the span of several years show that erosion patterns have changed on portions of the Red Planet. Scientists have known that ice exists on Mars for quite a while, but these latest photographs help point to signs that liquid water occasionally can be found on the planet as well.
That’s especially important in the search for any forms of life on the planet. While past research has concluded that life was possible on the planet’s long past when it was warmer, these new photos help boost the odds that liquid water may exist somewhere on the planet today to help feed life forms.
Satellite photos have long shown gullies on the surface of Mars where water was believed to have flowed millions of years ago. Comparing photos of portions of Mars first photographed in 1999 and 2000 and then reshot in 2004 and 2005, researchers have found gullies in two spots that are part of the second series of photos, but not the first.
“Water seems to have flowed on the surface of today’s Mars,” says Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. “The big question is how does this happen, and does it point to a habitat for life.”
There are no visible channels or pools of water on Mars. That leads researchers to think that there may be liquid water in underground aquifiers, which occasionally release water to Mars’ surface. Underground temperatures of Mars might be warm enough to keep water in its liquid state.
The new gullies display evidence of water flow similar to what we see on Earth. They are about one-quarter of a mile long and have delta-shaped patterns at their ends, much like what we find at the end of our rivers and streams. Also, flow patterns in the areas around obstacles in the paths of the gullies show similar patterns like those we see here on earth of mud and sediment washing around the obstacle.
By the way, if you want to see more about the surface of Mars, the Science Museum of Minnesota’s 3-D cinema currently is showing the film “Mars,” which has footage taken from the Mars rovers currently scurrying around the planet. Maybe you’ll be able to see some signs of water in the background.
Astronomers at Cornell have determined that craters on the moon, once thought to hold ice, actually just have highly reflective dirt. This is a set back for space exploration plans, which had hoped to use the ice as a source of water and/or hydrogen for a future moon base.
Researchers for the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated "drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits."
A long time ago; far, far away, there might have been life on Mars.
Those are the conclusions researchers are coming to has they pull together data gathered from several space probes to the Red Planet over the past decade.
It all adds up to the possibility that Mars could have supported life during its first 1 billion years of existence. For the past 3.5 billion years, its conditions have been too harsh to sustain life as we know it. It became too cold and too dry for even the basic forms of live, microbes, to exist.
The findings of the research team were recently published in the journal Science. A team of international space experts has been studying the data gathered from various space missions.
In its first 600 million years, Mars likely had plenty of water, temperate weather and low acid levels. The research team has been able to figure that out by examining the oldest rocks they’ve found from the missions. Those rocks have been exposed on Mars’ surface due to erosion, cratering and large temblors.
Exactly were the water may have been on Mars is still up for debate. The research team keeps open the possibility that the planet’s surface never had large amounts of water covering it. Clay deposits, a key link to the presence of water on Mars, have been found beneath the planet’s surface. And the few exposed sections of clay may have been formed below the surface and later pushed up or exposed.
The tame first segment of the planet’s life was followed by 500 million years of great volcanic activity that filled the atmosphere with sulfur. Those particles fell back down in the form of sulfuric acid, while at the same time Mars began to lose its atmosphere. Then over the course of the next 300 million years, Mars got to its icy-cold, rusty-red look that it has still today.
All of this information is helping scientists plan where they want to send future Mars probes to get even more answers to these questions on Mars’ origins.
This morning at 7:43 AM EDT NASA successfully launched the new Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter into space to begin its long journey to the red planet.
This new mission to Mars will put the satellite into a low orbit to examine the planet in the highest detail ever captured. The orbiter will travel for 8 months before it goes into orbit around Mars.
One of the main goals of this mission is to scout out information that will help us in future missions that will actually land on Mars. So once it gets there it will deploy six new instruments to analyze the atmosphere, scour the surface, and even image deep below the surface of the planet.
Learn more about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and other NASA Mars programs
What do you think is the most important reason to travel to Mars? To mine its resources? For human colonization? To find out it there was/is life on Mars? Something else?
News reports last week indicated that scientists had found methane on Mars—a chemical that usually indicates life. However,
NASA says it ain't so.
"News reports on February 16, 2005, that NASA scientists from Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., have found strong evidence that life may exist on Mars are incorrect.
"NASA does not have any observational data from any current Mars missions that supports this claim. The work by the scientists mentioned in the reports cannot be used to directly infer anything about life on Mars, but may help formulate the strategy for how to search for martian life. Their research concerns extreme environments on Earth as analogs of possible environments on Mars. No research paper has been submitted by them to any scientific journal asserting martian life."