Sci/Tech briefs

Space programs develop new spacecraft

Anatoly Perminov, head of Russia’s space agency, stated Wednesday that a nuclear-powered spaceship was necessary for the success of the country’s space program. Perminov wants to replace the aging Soyuz system used by astronauts for several decades and currently used to reach the International Space Station. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev encouraged his Cabinet to provide the required $600 million.

According to Perminov, the new design could be completed within three years, with nearly another decade needed for construction and testing. After being delayed a day primarily due to poor weather conditions, NASA successfully launched the Ares I-X rocket Wednesday morning.

The rocket, which forms part of the proposed Constellation system designed for long-range exploration, lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. and flew for approximately six minutes before parachuting into the ocean.

Source: Associated Press

Researchers work to slow down death

Scientists studying the processes of cell decay and death are working on a breakthrough that can drastically slow metabolism.
Much of the research is being conducted by Mark Roth of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He believes that by replacing oxygen in cells with hydrogen sulfide, cells will not decay. He has successfully conducted experiments on fish and small mammals.

These creatures are exposed to hydrogen sulfide gas, which causes their heart rate and other biological indicators to drop almost to zero, a state which appears like death. When the gas is removed and replaced by normal oxygen, the subjects return to normal. Roth believes his research, if it can be applied to humans, will give doctors more time to conduct surgery on critically wounded patients. He received a MacArthur Genius grant for his work, and is currently expanding his research to larger animals and humans.


Google develops free GPS software

Last Wednesday, Google released Google Maps Navigation, a GPS application for phones running its Android 2.0 operating system. With similar functionality to existing GPS devices such as those by Garmin and TomTom, a primary difference is that there is no charge for Google’s software.

The application integrates with Google Maps, and therefore features such as Google Street View are available to help users find their destinations. Traditional GPS manufacturers saw their stocks fall dramatically in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. Due to the connectivity of Android devices and Google’s extensive database, the GPS market will have to reconsider its business model. At the moment Google Maps Navigation is available only on the Verizon Droid, but upcoming Android 2.0 phones will also have access to this most recent “killer app.”

Source: TechCrunch