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Neil DeGrasse Tyson And Bill Nye Are Planning A Space Launch, Details Here

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Bill Nye Neil deGrasse TysonNeil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye are two of our favorites, so when they get together for some scheme or another, you can bet that it has our complete and total attention. And they’ve got a doozy of a project brewing this time, as they’re about to test their LightSail spacecraft.

The two popular figures in the scientific community, along with their partners at the Planetary Society, announced that they plan to embark on their first test mission in May of this year. Entirely funded by private citizens, the solar sail satellite will be a part of an upcoming launch of an Atlas V rocket.

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Autonomous Helicopter Drones May Assist NASA’s Exploration Of Mars, Here’s How

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Mars HelicopterNASA’s rovers have provided a wealth of information about Mars over the years and continue to ramble on. Devices like Opportunity and Curiosity have been exploring the surface of the Red Planet for more than a decade now (Opportunity touched down 11 years ago yesterday), but for everything they’ve revealed to us, they’ve explored relatively little in the way of area. With potential manned missions to Mars ramping up, the space agency is looking to expand its efforts in this area, and to do so they’re considering taking to the sky.

The rugged surface and unforgiving terrain exact a hearty toll on the hardware on the ground and a hindrance to easy movement. To combat that, and provide a wider view, NASA is toying with the idea of autonomous drones to accompany future rovers. The Mars Helicopter could potentially be an addition to the future excursion, and could provide all kinds of useful functions.

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Elon Musk Eyes Texas For His Hyperloop Test Track, Get The Details Here

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HyperloopA 30-minute trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco is inching closer and closer to becoming a reality. SpaceX and Tesla head, and general technologically forward thinking dude, Elon Musk, has been kicking around the idea of a high-speed Hyperloop transit system for some time, and he recently took to social medial to offer some updates on its progress.

The project includes work from established players like of Boeing, Tesla, and SpaceX, as well as from engineering students at UCLA’s SupraStudio. Musk took to Twitter to say that the Hyperloop is getting a new test facility that will most likely be constructed somewhere in Texas (SpaceX has regional offices in Houston). The track will be roughly five miles long and both the student teams and the companies will be able to use this facility to test out their pods.

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Richard Branson Reflects On Virgin Galactic And The Future Of Privatized Space Travel

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Virgin GalacticThe quest for privatized space flight took a huge hit last October with the tragic fatal crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, which took the life of one pilot, Mike Alsbury, and injured the other. This doesn’t mean that the company is going to back off of their ultimate goal of opening up access to the galaxy to everyone (or at least those with the discretionary income to be able to afford it). Virgin founder Richard Branson recently released a statement reflecting on the tragedy and clarifying the future of the company’s mission.

Never one to sit on the sidelines, after taking a few months to examine and digest the situation, as well as for the authorities to investigate the accident—which was chalked up to pilot error of some sort—Branson says that he, and Virgin Galactic, will not let this unfortunate calamity disrupt their plans for the future, or their hopes for changing space travel and the world.

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Japan’s Attack On Titan Exhibit Is Both Humongous And Terrifying

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attack on titanI consider myself a progressively oddball person, but there’s no denying that I would get swallowed alive if I ever made my way to Japan. Universal Studios Japan will soon celebrate the manga and anime series Attack on Titan with an insanely massive attraction, as well as other amazing looking installments that will honor other popular titles like Resident Evil and Monster Hunter. 2015 is the year of giant scary shit, apparently.

The Universal Cool Japan event, as it’s called, will run from January 23 to May 10, and the “Attack on Titan The Real” exhibit will feature a full-size, 49-foot-tall version of Eren Yeager, who develops the ability to grow into a Titan, the franchise’s huge antagonists. (Eren is a good guy, though.) There will also be a 46-foot-tall female Titan, and the two will be set up in combative stances. Audiences can also witness the scene where a Titan eats Eren’s mother, though I’m clueless as to what kind of technology they’ll use to allow that to happen.

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Using Smartphones Is Reprogramming Our Brains

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touchtypeAs 2014 draws to a close, many people contemplate resolutions for next year. I can get a little carried away when it comes to my goals to the extent that remembering them causes me some stress (it’s pretty hard to, say, become fluent in Mandarin over the course of one year while living in the U.S.). More and more, my goals involve technology—learning about it and experimenting with it, sure, but I’m increasingly resolved to limit my interactions with it, particularly on social media (thanks, Black Mirror), and to spend more time reading actual books. Part of this is due to recent studies that suggest just how bad it is to spend so much time in front of a screen, particularly before bed, as well as a new study that offers insight into how spending so much time on our devices is reprogramming our brains.

The screen-sleep connection isn’t a new one, though its seriousness has recently come to light in recent studies, particularly one published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found that anyone whose winding down ritual involves using a smartphone, eReader, computer, or most types of TV might be doing themselves serious sleep damage. Scientists already knew that the light from the screen suppresses sleep-inducing melatonin, which makes it tough for people to fall asleep. But the new study indicates “comprehensive results of a direct comparison between reading with a light-emitting device and reading a printed book and the consequences on sleep.” In a two-week study, people who read on an iPad before bed took longer to fall asleep, got less REM sleep, and produced less melatonin than print book readers. They also felt more tired after 8 hours of sleep.

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