SciTech Briefs

Space ?Clipper? to replace Soyuz

Russia and the European Space Agency have proposed a joint effort to build a new space vehicle. The ?Clipper? would carry six passengers and would help replace the Russian Soyuz, which began operating in the 1960s. The proposed program would cost about $120 million and has ambitions that extend to lunar exploration. But Alain Fournier-Sicre of the Russian Federation admitted that ?on the Russian side, of course, they have in mind space tourism and propose a certain level of comfort, but the main objective is science.?

Source: BBC

Robot ?patients? help doctors practice skills

Mexico City?s UNAM has taken a novel approach to giving doctors in training field time. The school now has 24 robotic patients, complete with mechanical organs and synthetic blood. The robot patients provide students with the opportunity to practice basic skills and train in more complicated tasks. These robots can simulate a variety of illnesses and even heart attacks. Most students are relieved to have digital patients. ?I would feel nervous if this was a real patient,? said Paola Mendoza Cortez. Now that she has a robot patient, she says she ?can practice many times.?

Source: CNN

Arctic ice caps will continue receding

In nature, a few things, including the Arctic ice cap, are constant. The ice cap?s size fluctuates annually between the summer and winter months. However, on Monday, NASA, and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported the minimum extent of the Arctic ice cap to be 20 percent below average, marking the fourth consecutive summer that the ice cap has been significantly smaller than normal. While natural oscillations may be involved, the NSIDC?s Ted Scambos said, ?The consecutive record-low extents make it pretty certain a long-term decline is underway.? Some scientists also warn that the danger could be more severe. Michael McCracken of the Climate Institute said, ?We?re talking about sea level rise around the globe, so everybody is going to experience it, particularly regions that have low lying areas.? It looks like Santa?s not the only one on thin ice.

Sources: Voice of America and Minnesota Daily

Giant squid seen live for first time

Featured in myths and legends, the elusive giant squid has finally been caught on camera. The giant squid, or Architeuthis, is one of the sea?s best kept secrets. Until recently, humans have not seen living specimens, only carcasses and the occasional severed tentacle. However, after three years of effort, Tsunemi Kubodera and Kyoichi Mori of the National Science Museum in Tokyo have successfully photographed a live giant squid. At a depth of 900 meters beneath sea level, they baited Architeuthis and captured the first images of a giant squid in its natural habitat. Their report to The Royal Society, the United Kingdom?s national academy of science, includes the finding ?Architeuthis appears to be a much more active predator than previously suspected.?

Source: The Royal Society