Portal De Tecnologia y Ciencias

Portal De Tecnologia y Ciencias

martes, 19 de noviembre de 2013

Elon Musk reveals his Hyperloop concept, vowing LA-to-San Fran travel in 30 minutes

f there's a barrier to thinking about the future, it comes from being so wedded to the present. When steam-powered passenger trains arrived in the 1800s, doctors worried riders might die from asphyxiation if they went faster than 60 mph. In our own time, hydrogen cars have never gained traction in part because the benefits have yet to seem worth the trouble. Then there's Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk's new idea called the Hyperloop, which he revealed today: an elevated, solar-powered train-in-a-tube that could whisk riders at supersonic speeds up to 900 miles. It sounds fantastic, and according to Musk could be built for less than a comparable magnetic-levitation train — roughly $6 billion for a Los Angeles-to-San Franciso route that would cut travel time to 30 minutes for a $20 ticket. "It would be cool to see a new form of transport happen," Musk says. But do we really need it? The proposal from Musk — a 57-page paper full of aerodynamic engineering concepts and economic discussion points — has as much connection to reality as a comic book at the moment. But Musk, a billionaire who founded and sold PayPal before Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity, has the resources to explore ideas that most would turn down as unworkable, and once you build a reusable space capsule and a profitable electric car, why not broaden your horizons?
Musk describes the Hyperloop as essentially a solar-powered version of the pneumatic tubes once common in offices and drive-through bank branches. By riding on pressurized air, with a compressor fan at the front of the capsules, the vehicles could accelerate up to 760 mph without the disruptive sonic booms supersonic aircraft produce. And despite the speeds, Musk says the accelerations would be limited to no more than what passengers face today: "It would feel like you were riding in an airplane, like you're riding in a cushion of air." To survive in California's earthquake-prone geography, the Hyperloop would be built on pillars designed to cushion the tube from tremors, a system that Musk contends would be safer than trains today. In fact, Musk contends if the Hyperloop tubes were coated in solar panels, they would generate more energy than the system uses and should be better in every dimension — cheaper, safer, more energy efficient and pleasant to travel in — than the current alternatives. As for the economics, by Musk's calculations the machinery inside the tube is relatively cheap — about $60 million or so. While the tube itself would cost $6 billion to build along Interstate 5 in California, if the Hyperloop ran at regular intervals it could pay for itself with passenger fares of $20 a ride over 20 years, at several million passengers a year. Musk contends the Hyperloop would work best for distances less than 900 miles; longer than that, airplanes make better sense.
After saying at first he was too busy to pursue the idea, Musk said Monday he would at least take it a little further. "I'm somewhat tempted to build at least a demonstration prototype," he said. "I could do some scale version and hand it over to someone else...I would like to see it come to fruition, and it might help if I did a demonstration article." The whole plan seems outlandish at first blush — but the current estimates for California's high-speed rail upgrade stand around $65 billion, for trains that many critics, including Musk, contend offer few benefits over today's tangle of roads and rails. Los Angeles expects to spend more than $6 billion extending its subway system 10 miles. Whether it's the right track or a dead end, with the Hyperloop Musk has succeeded in offering a provocative alternative to a more expensive future.

Chinese explorer Zheng He may have discovered America before Columbus, according to new book

Does a 600-year-old Chinese map prove that Christopher Columbus was not the first explorer to navigate the New World? In his book “Who Discovered America?,” published Tuesday, author Gavin Menzies says the settling of North America by nonnative peoples is more complex than previously thought. ‘The traditional story of Columbus discovering the New World is absolute fantasy, it’s fairy tales,” Menzies, 76, said in an interview with the Daily Mail. However, not everyone is sold on the theory. Menzies has been derided as a “pseudo-historian” by critics, who say his claims are grandiose and not based in historical fact. Menzies has primarily focused his studies on when and how North America was first explored but he has also argued that the mythological city of Atlantis was real. Menzies also has passionate supporters — his previous books have been best-sellers, and proponents of his theories have donated millions to his efforts, allowing him to hire a number of experts to join in his investigations. Menzies says that the Chinese map, found in a bookstore and created in the 18th century, is attributed to Chinese Admiral Zheng He and shows a detailed map of America dating back to 1418. That would place Zheng He’s efforts some 70 years ahead of Columbus. In fact, Menzies says Columbus used a copy of Zheng He's map to plot his own voyage. Zheng He — a Muslim eunuch — is arguably the most famous explorer in Chinese history. Deployed by the emperor, He led Chinese fleets on voyages of discovery that helped expand the empire’s knowledge of the world to include previously unknown areas in the Middle East and Africa. His influence over Asian culture was so strong thathe is still considered a god in parts of Indonesia. An appraiser from Christie’s has authenticated the map itself, but there is currently no way of proving the map was based on images drafted in the 1400s. However, Menzies says that certain observations on the map, including descriptions of communities and other cultural landmarks in Peru, coincide with known data from that period. In addition, Menzies makes an even broader claim in his book, saying that Chinese sailors were the first to cross the Pacific Ocean 40,000 years ago. Menzies says there is DNA evidence to support his claim. So how does Menzies believe the Chinese pulled off such a giant historical accomplishment thousands of years before anyone else? “If you just go out in a plastic bathtub, the currents will just carry you there,” Menzies told the Mail. “They just came with the current, it’s as simple as that.” The current historical version of events says that individuals from what is now Asia crossed into North America via a land bridge extending from the Bering Strait. Critics of Menzies point out that he holds no degrees or professional training as a historian. But the Daily Mail says he “can no longer be called an amateur” after his most recent efforts.

Slavery, disease, death: the dark side of the Christopher Columbus story

On Monday, the United States will observe Columbus Day, schools and banks closing and parades marching in honor of the man who, as we all learned in school, discovered America in 1492. And according to The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman, Columbus Day is a dangerous farce. Inman contends in his current strip on The Oatmeal, a humor/political commentary website, that the legends we believe about Columbus are not only misleading but grossly unfair. He cites primary sources and journals recounted in Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and James Lowewen’s “Lies My Teacher Told Me” to dispel the traditional narrative of Columbus as brave traveler who connected the Old World and the New. Here are a few of The Oatmeal’s conclusions about Christopher Columbus: • In 1492, no one actually thought the earth was flat. “Pretty much anyone with an education knew the earth was round. The Greeks had proved it 2,000 years before Columbus was born.” • Columbus didn’t actually “discover” the New World. Not only were there natives living in the Americas for 14,000 years, Leif Ericson found the same territory 500 years before Columbus. • Columbus wanted gold, and lots of it. His initial ideas for a new trade route to Asia fell by the wayside as he realized how much gold was available in the New World. • The natives would provide little resistance. According to his own journal, Columbus believed the indigenous Lucayans would not be a significant challenge. “I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men,” he wrote, “and govern them as I pleased.” • For his second visit, Columbus armed for war. When Columbus returned to the New World, he brought 17 ships and 1,500 men. • Columbus treated the natives brutally. Columbus demanded treasure, food and sex for his men, and when the Lucayans refused, he ordered their noses and ears cut off to serve as a warning. • Columbus treated his conquered people harshly. When the Lucayans rebelled, Columbus crushed the rebellion and carted off 500 Lucayans to be sold into slavery in Europe. • Columbus disrupted the entire economy of three continents. Post-Columbian disease and starvation killed three to five million people over the next fifty years. And the influx of gold disrupted the global economy to the point that African slaves became a dominant commodity. http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/fU65tQS6WxL40UwNfphNZg--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTYzMA--/http:/l.yimg.com/os/publish-images/news/2013-10-10/82d441c1-51cc-415b-9c0b-1da31db615b2_d1010cc2.jpg Via The Oatmeal In short, The Oatmeal contends, Columbus “discovered the New World much like a meteorite discovered the dinosaurs,” and yet is still honored with a federal holiday. Making the point impossible to miss: “The father of the transatlantic slave trade is honored on the same level as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.” As a replacement, The Oatmeal suggests Bartolome de los Casas, a wealthy plantation owner who sold off his holdings, freed his slaves, turned to the priesthood, and fought for the dignity of native Americans. In other words, The Oatmeal suggests, Columbus Day might be worth celebrating if it were named for someone else.

Finally, the Underwater Wireless Modem We’ve All Been Waiting For

Researchers from the University at Buffalo on Lake Erie. Photo: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo You can use the internet in Antarctica. You can tweet from the International Space Station. And wireless internet blankets much of the globe. But go underwater and it’s pretty hard to find TCP/IP. Until now, that is. Welcome to the Internet of Things, undersea edition. Researchers at the University at Buffalo have floated their first wireless internet modems, designed for underwater use. They’re gigantic, slow, and noisy, but they could be a step toward making undersea sensors cheaper and easier to hook up to the rest of the world. On a warm fall afternoon last month, the Buffalo researchers chartered a 25-foot yacht, sailed out into Buffalo’s Small Harbor and dropped three of the yellow 40-pound acoustic modems into the placid waters of Lake Erie. The Teledyne Benthos modems, which resemble oversized tinker toy components, talk underwater using a high-pitched chirping sound, which can be easily picked up at about 1 kilometer’s range. Typically they use their own networking protocols, but funded by a National Science Foundation grant, the University at Buffalo team has plugged them into a Gumstix Linux board and reprogrammed the modem to speak an aquatic version of TCP/IP — the networking protocol that all devices on the Internet use to communicate with each other. “This means that you can take an underwater network and make it accessible through the internet,” says Tommaso Melodia, the professor at the University at Buffalo who is leading the research effort. He sees these networked underwater sensors doing everything from monitoring for tsunamis to scouting for submarines to helping with deep sea exploration. But these networks are very, very slow. In fact, that’s why Melodia and his team had to rewrite TCP/IP. On dry land, we can use high frequency radio waves to transmit our internet data at near-light speeds. They’re fast, high-bandwidth and inaudible. But radio doesn’t do so well underwater. There you need acoustic networking. It’s slow, low bandwidth and audible to both humans and sea creatures. http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/3x5a6718-315x207.jpg Photo: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo So the University at Buffalo researchers had to get their modems to work even when there is a very long wait time as packets are chirped underwater from modem to modem. “You go pretty much at the same data rates that you would be able to achieve with a modem in the ’80s; it’s a few kilobits per second at most, and often less than that,” says Melodia. That’s not enough to broadcast a video stream from the deep seas, but if you want to hack together a deep sea sensor that could tweet out a Tsunami warning, it would do just fine. In the future, Melodia wants to develop a high frequency version of the modem, which would be less likely to affect marine life. “Underwater and acoustic networking are still in their infancy, and are evolving,” he says, adding, “much of our ongoing research in this field is trying to lay the basis for faster, more reliable, and secure… networks.” Melodia and his team will present a paper on their research, titled “The Internet Underwater: An IP-compatible Protocol Stack for Commercial Undersea Modems,” at an underwater networking conference in Taiwan next month.

Satellite spots light show in the middle of the ocean

Those weird lights in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean — what are they? Are they an unstoppable force of electric underwater creatures swimming, slowly but steadily, toward the shore where they will flood our cities and force us all to watch "Finding Nemo" from now until the end of time? Fortunately, no (for now). The lights, which were spotted using Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite, are actually a large collection of fishermen. NASA explains, "There are no human settlements there, nor fires or gas wells. But there are an awful lot of fishing boats." Yep, that's right, those lights that could easily be mistaken for a series of heavily populated islands are actually powerful lights on boats. What exactly are the fishermen looking for? And why are they out blasting their high beams? From NASA: The night fishermen are hunting for Illex argentinus, a species of short-finned squid that forms the second largest squid fishery on the planet. The squid are found tens to hundreds of kilometers offshore from roughly Rio de Janeiro to Tierra del Fuego (22 to 54 degrees South latitude). They live 80 to 600 meters (250 to 2,000 feet) below the surface, feeding on shrimp, crabs, and fish. In turn, Illex are consumed by larger finfish, whales, seals, sea birds, penguins ... and humans. Fishermen use the powerful lights, "generating as much as 300 kilowatts of light per boat," to draw the plankton and fish that the squid eat toward the surface. The squid then follow the food. Alas, it's the last meal for many.

El Cielo

El Cielo

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