Sunday, May 18, 2008

Electronics, Aviation, Aliens, and Mobile Phone Bills

Scientists at HP labs have succeeded in creating a working version of a formerly theoretical fourth basic electronics component, the memristor. As it joins the resistor, capacitor, and inductor as the basic building blocks of circuitry, it should allow for an array of improvements over existing circuitry.

Airbus and Honeywell are teaming up to develop a new biofuel that would be a direct replacement for the kerosene currently used as jet fuel and would not affect world food supplies. I'm not a big fan of biofuel myself, but I can certainly see aviation being one of the last holdouts of the fossil fuel age. And anything that allows 1/3 of aviation fuel to come from a renewable source is a good thing.

Speaking of aircraft, someone is talking about personal aviation again. It's not a flying car, it's a drivable airplane. Slashdot had quite the reaction, as you might expect. Shockingly, the company actually took the time to respond to the criticisms. I'll leave it to you to judge whether you think the idea will fly this time.

Going even farther up, the Vatican's chief astronomer says that life on other worlds is not only possible, but they might even be free of original sin. He also indicates that searching for extraterrestrial life does not contradict belief in God. Seems obvious to me, but it's nice to hear someone say it.

If there is life out there, they will actually be relatively inexpensive to talk to. One space scientist did the math and determined that text messaging via mobile phone cost at least four times as much as downloading the equivalent data from the Hubble space telescope. Naturally, some interpreted this result as an indication that mobile phone data prices are ... inflated.

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