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December 27th, 2010

U.S. Navy goes Electromagnetic with Railgun and Fighter Catapult

The United States Navy has tested two new pieces of similar technology this month, ushering in a new era for naval warfare. Earlier this month, the U.S. Navy successfully tested it’s new hypersonic railgun, capable of firing a projectile using electromagnetic force rather than a chemical explosive. On December 10th, a 20-pound aluminum slug was flung some 5,500 feet at a speed of Mach 7, nearly 5,000MPH. On December 18th, the Navy tested a similar device, but this one designed to catapult jet fighters off of the deck of an aircraft carriers. Known as the EMALS, Electro-Magnetic Aircraft launch System, the device would replace steam-powered catapults that have been in use since the 1950s.

us navy railgun 01

U.S. Navy railgun ready for testing. Image Souce: U.S. Navy

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November 14th, 2010

Barnes & Noble Nook Color Unveiled

At a company hosted event today, Barnes & Noble introduced the Nook Color with a full 7-inch color touch screen. This is a huge improvement over the original Nook which only features an e-ink display. The new device is powered by Android, so it is capable of more than just books, and the new Nook Developer program will extend it even further as well.

Nook Color

The biggest surprise is that the price stays at a low $249. Don’t expect it to be a full-featured Android tablet though, Barnes & Noble has stated that is more like an e-reader with some additional tablet functionality. However it does have Wi-Fi (802.11n) and 8GB of storage, plus built-in integration for Facebook and Twitter. So it is primarily an e-reader, with web browsing and video playback being secondary.

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October 20th, 2010

Apple’s New MacBook Air, FaceTime for Mac, OS X Lion, and iLife 11

Today Apple held a press event called “Back to the Mac” and during it they made several announcements and introduced a couple updated products, all related to the Mac. With iPhone, iPod, and iPad being such a big focus from Apple recently, the name of the event set the theme for what was to come.

MacBook Air

Before the event there was rumblings of a new MacBook Air and iLife. The new operating system codenamed OS X Lion was also set to play a part of the event. When CEO Steve Jobs stepped on stage, all the rumors became true, and demos were held to show off what is new.

It is one thing to say the names of what is announced, but here is an overview of what was a fairly eventful day in Apple land. There is much to be detailed, so check out the scoop below.

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October 6th, 2010

It’s a Bird! It’s a Manta Ray! It’s the NASA X-48B Blended Wing Body Skyray!

For plane watchers, the skies above Edwards Air Force Base is always a great place to see the most advanced aircraft in the world. Locals may begin seeing an odd, manta ray shaped aircraft again. NASA has resumed test flights of the X48B blended wing body (BWB) test plane. For almost 3 years, the unmanned X-48B, nicknamed the Skyray, flew 80 flights testing it’s radical design. After a major overhaul and upgrade, the X-48B is back in the skies again!

nasa x48b
NASA’s X-48B Skyray tests blended wing body flight over the California desert. Image Source – NASA.gov

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September 27th, 2010

BlackBerry PlayBook 7-inch Tablet Announced, Arrives in 2011

Research in Motion made a big announcement at the BlackBerry Developer Conference today by introducing a new 7-inch tablet called the BlackBerry PlayBook. The company plans to use a new tablet OS based on QNX to power the platform, unlike their other products which use BlackBerry OS. Not much details were talked about, but it does seem to be targeted at Business users, a market which RIM maintains a firm grasp of.

blackberry playbook

They did announce some specs and spoke of some of it’s abilities as a tablet device. The BlackBerry PlayBook is powered by a dual core Cortex A9, and features two cameras (one for each side). The rear camera is 5 megapixel, while the front is 3 megapixel, and both can be used for video conferencing. The screen size is 7 inches, with a capacitive multitouch screen at a resolution of 1024×600. There is no official specs on how much storage it will carry, but many suspect it will be offered in both 16GB and 32GB flavors. Only Wi-Fi models will be available at first, with plans to release 3G and 4G versions in the future. All of this in a 0.4 inch thin, 400 gram, 7 inch tablet.

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September 26th, 2010

Amateur Astronomy 101: Buying Your 1st Telescope – Eyepieces

So far in this series we have discussed types of telescopes and mounts. The next part of decisions to make when buying your first telescope is what sort of eyepieces to have? Most telescopes come with two eyepieces when you purchase them. There are many types to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantages, depending on the type of telescope you bought and how you intend to use it. So I will take some time and go through the details.

U.S. President Barack Obama peers through a telescope set up on the South Lawn driveway of the White House as part of an astronomy event for area middle-school students in Washington on October 7, 2009. UPI/Martin Simon/POOL Photo via Newscom

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September 16th, 2010

Amateur Astronomy 101: Your First Telescope – Mount Systems

As described in the previous article, telescopes comes in three flavors, refractors which are great for planetary observations, reflectors which are great for ‘deep sky’ observations, and the composite or catadioptric telescopes which are composites of refractors and reflectors, such as the popular Schmidt-Cassegrain type. Well, there is one more major consideration in choosing your first telescope, the type of mount. There are two basic types, altazimuth and equatorial.

CLEVELAND NATIONAL FOREST, CA, AUGUST 26:  A girl looks into a telescope to view the planet Mars, seen through the middle of the telescope, on August 26, 2003 in Modjeska Canyon, located in the Cleveland National Forest in eastern Orange County, California. California State University, Fullerton provided free telescopes for the public to view the Red Planet as it comes closer to Earth. On August 27, it will be closer than it's been in more than 50,000 years.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

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September 14th, 2010

New Twitter Redesign Announced, Embedded Videos, Photos, and More

It is no secret that Twitter.com is a website that has been long overdue for a redesign. Not much has changed since the site launched, and meanwhile mobile apps have continued to provide much better interfaces and extra features. They are finally doing something to fix that and make the service much more powerful when viewed in a web browser.

New Twitter

Today they announced the launch of a completely new Twitter redesign with a new interface and many new features. The first change is a two-pane view which shows your timeline on one side and additional content on the other. This second pane can change based on what you are doing, for example it might show a “mini-profile” of the person who created the tweet you are reading. It might also show a map of the location associated with the particular tweet.

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September 13th, 2010

Greeks earliest sighting of Halley’s comet

Greeks earliest sighting of Halley’s comet in history around 466 BC say scientists. The Journal of Cosmology says that the Greeks may have seen the comet during a period of 80 days in 466BC. The previous earliest reference to Halley’s comet was by the Chinese is 240 BC, according to New Scientist magazine. But writings by the ancient Greeks about a large meteorite falling between 466 – 467 BC may change who saw Halley’s comet first.

Halley  s Comet
Halley’s Comet as seen in 1986 by ESA’s Giotto space probe.

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September 10th, 2010

Solar Impulse Plane to make more flights in Switzerland

Solar Impulse Plane to make more flights in Switzerland

The Solar Impulse plane has already set a new record in beating a 24-hour solar-powered flight. This week, the team announced plans for three longer flights across Switzerland. The ultimate goal for the Solar Impulse HB-SIA is to fly around the world on only the power of sunlight. They expect to begin transoceanic flights by 2013 and the non-stop global flight by 2014.

Solar Impulse's Chief Executive Officer and pilot Andre Borschberg flies in the solar-powered HB-SIA prototype airplane during its first successful night flight attempt at Payerne airport July 8, 2010. The aircraft took off July 7 at 06:51 am and reached an altitude of 8,700 meters (28,543 feet) by the end of the day. It then slowly descent to 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) and flew during the night on the batteries, charged during the day by 12,000 solar cells, which powered the four electric motors. It landed July 8 at 09.00 am (GMT+2) for a flight time of 26 hours and 9 minutes, setting the longest and highest flight ever made by a solar plane. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (SWITZERLAND - Tags: TRANSPORT SCI TECH ENVIRONMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

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