Show 21 – First broadcast 3rd Oct 2008
Science in the News
First Channel crossing with a jetpack
Fusion man flies across the Channel: Yves Rossy became the first person to fly across the English Channel with wings on his back and a jet pack. This is straight out of a science fiction story.
Unmanned Aircraft flies across the Atlantic
A 19-hour flight from Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., to Southwest Asia has greatly extended the reach of US military unmanned planes.
Chinese success on spacewalk
China’s three-man spacecraft shifted from an oval orbit to a more stable circular orbit 213 miles above Earth on 26th September. Then they did the first Chinese spacewalk (which is really a spacefloat) but it was not without its anxious moments
Spoofing your GPS
Just like flat-screen televisions, cell phones and computers, global positioning system (GPS) technology is becoming something people can’t imagine living without. So if such a ubiquitous system were to come under attack, would we be ready? Read the article here.
Edson Smith systems administrator at the University of California has discovered the worlds biggest known prime number. The number has nearly 13 million digits. If you’re a fan of huge numbers you can see the whole thing here. The number can also be more simply represented as 2 to the power of 43,112,609 minus 1.
Edson found the number using software provided bt GIMPS (Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search), which allows anyone to devote their spare home computing power to checking the primality of these mind bogglingly huge numbers. They’re even offering a prize of $150,000 to the first person to find a 100 million digit prime.
Ross’s home computer is currently checking to see if 2 to the power of 44,343,029 minus 1 is a prime number, but don’t hold your breath for an answer during the show – even running 24 hours the programme will take until 6th December to check!
New smart pursuit cluster weapon proposed by USAF
Noel was in the news this week talking about a new USAF proposal for a smart “pursuit” cluster weapon. You can read the article in the New Scientist or you can read a brief report on the AUVSI forum: When does a bomb become a robot?
Israel’s new cluster bomb can self destruct
Israel have bought a new cluster bomb that will self destruct if the bomlets are not exploded. A big problem with cluster bombs is that many of the bomblets do not explode until they are touched by people after the conflict – often children. The new M-85 is touted to self destruct the bomblets if they do not go off.
The United Nations estimates that a million cluster bombs were dropped on Lebanon by Israel between July 12 and August 14 in 2006 in the conflict with Hezbollah.
About 40 percent of these did not explode on impact and are spread among villages and orchards in the south of Lebanon.
Feature: Late night at the science museum, london
Noel helped out at the London Science Museum’s first Adult late night opening and tells us all about the Dan Dare. the birth of high tech Britain exhibition with great nostalgia. He judged a revved up robot competition there and heard a science rapper.
Mover and Shaker:
This weeks Mover and Shaker was Professor Alan Winfield, head of the Bristol Robotics Lab. Alan tells us about his early days and his most recent projects in swarm robotics and the development of a robot culture.
Music on the show
Intro: Sound of Silence, Beastie Boys followed by Polar Bear
News: Mathew Herbert music
Movers and Shakers, Mathew Herbert.
Outro: MDR by Niall Griffith