"Earth-Like Planets" - Truth In Advertising

A great article by Miriam Kramer in Mashable brings up something that has bugged me for a while. After billions of dollars and many years of study, we still can't definitively say if there is any kind of life on Mars or not. "Earth-like planet" makes for a great headline, but does it mean what one might reasonably think it means?


Monitoring And Predicting Falls In The Elderly

Young people often seem to be made of rubber as they can bounce back from falls and tumbles, thankfully often without lasting injury. Even broken bones typically heal quickly and completely. 

As we grown older, the consequences of falls and slips can become much more serious, and the elderly may often be at a high risk of serious injury, or even death.

Now the technology exists to not only detect falls when they happen, but to predict the increased likelihood of falls in elderly people by monitoring gait and other movement cues.
To predict falls, researchers used data collected from sensor systems at TigerPlace, an innovative aging-in-place retirement residence, located in Columbia, Mo. The system generated images and an alert email for nurses indicating when irregular motion was detected. This information could be used to assist nurses in assessing functional decline, providing treatment and preventing falls.

Dyson In Hot Pursuit Of The Better Battery

Dyson is proposing to spend a lot of time, effort and cash to build a better battery. Despite considerable advances, batteries can still be a weak point in electronic and computer devices (both in terms of performance and sometimes safety), and James Dyson and his company want to change that.
Dyson believes the answer lies in using ceramics to create solid-state lithium-ion batteries. Dyson says he intended to spend $1.4 billion in research and development and in building a battery factory over the next five years. Last year Dyson bought Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Sakti3, which focuses on creating advanced solid-state batteries, for $90 million. The global lithium-ion battery market accounts for $40 billion in annual sales, according to research firm Lux as cited by Forbes.


World's Largest Aircraft Crashes On Sophomore Flight

When I say "crashes", I should probably say "does a slow-motion pratfall" - but that's too long for a blog post title. The aircraft in question, the Airlander 10, is essentially a large, modern hybrid blimp and is filled with helium. 

The aircraft was not traveling very fast and maneuvers slowly anyway and so it sort of slowly crunched into the ground. No one was seriously hurt during all this. The first flight had gone well, but this is why they are called "test flights".