Hyperloop vision one step closer to reality

Another sci-fi technology came a step closer to reality this week with a test of Elon Musk’s revolutionary transportation system, the Hyperloop. The vision of the Hyperloop is to transport cargo and people between cities at speeds up to 700 mph. The system would consist of a network of vacuum tubes in which pods hover on magnetic rails. There are a number of technical problems to overcome, one being that at the moment the pods can only travel in a straight line. However, this week a prototype was accelerated from 0-116 mph in under two seconds by a series of powerful magnets. This proof-of-concept experiment should pave the way to building a full scale system by the end of 2016. If the project is successful it could mean a new form of transport that is safe, fast and environmentally friendly.

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Say hi to the neighbours

Astronomers announced this week that another 1,284 objects detected by NASA’s Keplar telescope are exoplanets orbiting stars other than our own. This brings the total number of ‘smaller-than-Neptune’ sized exoplanets detected by Keplar to around 2000. Of these planets about 100 are thought to be earth sized and orbiting their stars in the ‘goldilocks zone’. This zone is the distance from a star where liquid water can exists, where it’s not too hot and not too cold. There is a pretty good chance that life may exist on at least some of these 100 planets; and looking at the math, it means that there should be a life harbouring planet within 11 light years of us. The James Webb telescope to be launched in 2018 will scan the light that passes through the atmospheres of these planets, enabling us look for signs of life.

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Wrinkles be gone!

Researchers at MIT have developed an almost invisible, silicone-based polymer that mimics human skin. It can visibly reduce wrinkles by mimicking the elastic properties of collagen that has been lost as a result of aging. The user applies an adhesive to the skin and the artificial skin is placed on top. The artificial skin becomes strongly bound to the user’s skin and currently lasts for an entire day. The skin is resistant to water but can be washed off easily with a dissolving solution. The researchers hope that the skin can also be used as a more lasting and water resistant alternative to sunscreen, as well as provide a way to treat skin diseases, such as eczma, more effectively than current medicinal creams.

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Written by: Jake Howden