Mars’ First Settlers? Meet The People Who Want To Move To The Red Planet Permanently

Mars OneIf you’ve been reading GFR for a while, or any science- or space-related publication, you’ve likely heard of Mars One, a Dutch non-profit organization that plans to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Four rigorously vetted applicants will launch in 2022 on a mission to become the first permanent residents of the red planet. And by permanent, I mean permanent — this is a one-way mission. These folks aren’t coming back.

Like everything else nowadays, their travels and travails will be documented in a round-the-clock reality television program, but unless things go very wrong, no one will be kicked off the island.

Mars One started accepting applications in April and the deadline is August 31. If you’re on the fence about whether you want to go to Mars forever, it’s time to decide. The selection process will last two years and will involve medical clearances, interviews, a televised national selection round, and a televised international selection round. Ultimately, 24 people will be picked and divided into six teams of four to start preparing for their new life on Mars. One team will leave for Mars in the fall of 2022, with the other teams on-deck for their trips. By then, hopefully the radiation-preventing deflector shields will be in place.


From Los Angeles To San Francisco In 30 Minutes: The Future Is A Hyperloop

Hyperloop AlphaI spend a lot of time thinking about modes of travel. I’m a bike commuter and I travel a lot, passing a fair number of hours on planes, trains, boats, and buses. And automobiles, just to round it out. The train is, in my opinion, by far the superior method of transit, made even better because it’s actually possible to sleep on a train. Trains in the U.S., though, kind of suck (sorry, Amtrak), especially when compared to trains in Asia or Europe. But all that’s about to change. We hope.

Elon Musk, CEO of electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors and spacecraft producer SpaceX, as well as the founder of Paypal (yeah, this dude’s doing okay) just announced plans for a revolutionary train system that will allow people to get from L.A. to San Francisco (because really, who would go the other direction?) in 30 minutes. It’s the “Hyperloop” transport system, and if that name doesn’t convince you that this idea is awesome, I don’t know what will.

Musk’s proposed Hyperloop system involves shooting people through tubes at high speeds. Sound familiar?


Kickstart A Smartphone Hologram Pyramid, Or Just Ogle A Death Star Hologram

death star hologramRegardless of its appearance, once the flying car has come into the picture, one might say humanity is finally reaching the metaphorical “future.” (Now we just need to figure out how to get that car folded up into a suitcase.) Another good sign of technological transcendence is the advent of holograms entering our everyday lives. And not the “dead musician performing on stage” variety, but one that can be used at home, attached to a tablet or smartphone, or one that projects its images in a globe. And while neither of these products are advanced enough to show off Star Wars distress messages, at least there’s a Death Star involved.

The POV Globe, seen above depicting one of the most dangerous weapons in fiction, is a project from the School of Electronic & Engineering at the University of Leeds in England. Designed around a Raspberry Pi controller, the Globe uses a ring of RGB LEDs that rotate around the interior at 300 revolutions per minute. The definition isn’t going to impress the sticklers, but this is still a pretty amazing device, and there’s nothing out there quite like it.


New Exosuit Opens New Depths To Deep Sea Divers


Anyone who has ever gone SCUBA diving knows that the deeper one goes, the more complications could potentially arise. Equalizing to the pressure becomes more difficult, the temperature plummets, and the rise back to the surface must be undertaken slowly and with caution. Even the deepest sea divers don’t exceed a depth of 1,000 feet (and even if they did, being able to actually function down there would be another story), and people like me with a basic open-water diving certification are technically only supposed to dive about 60 feet below the surface. The new Exosuit is poised to change that.

Well, it won’t change my depth limit, sadly, but it will likely change the depths at which real deep-sea divers can function. The Exosuit is more than just a suit — it’s an “atmospheric diving system,” which makes it sound more Jacques Cousteau and less Wall Street. It was designed by Nuytco Research, an undersea technology developer in North Vancouver. Nuytco’s best known devices are the 2000-foot microsubmersibles, which are single- and double-pilot submarines used for surveying, construction, and deep-sea photography. Basically, they’re undersea pod racers.


Wikipedia Updates Translated Into Ambient Music

listen to Wikipedia

I always tell my writing students not to use Wikipedia — or, at least, not to use it as anything more than a headstart for real, verifiable research. But if anyone ever attempted to use it to make music, I’d have to reconsider.

Everyone knows that the face of a Wikipedia page changes more quickly, and sometimes more dramatically, than the face of an aging celebrity. This makes it iffy for research, but awesome for “truthiness.”


New Malaria Vaccine Has A Successful Clinical Trial

mosquitoLast summer I traveled to the Choco region of Colombia, a remote area near the Pacific Ocean known for rainforests, drug trafficking, and wildlife, especially mosquitoes. Malaria-carrying mosquitoes, to be precise. Before I left, I had to be vaccinated against yellow fever, and because no such vaccine exists for malaria, I had to get a prescription of Malarone, the most effective, and least system-ravaging, preventative medication against the disease. Each of those little pills cost about $10 and I had to start taking them three days before entering Choco and a week after I left. Unlike other malaria medications, Malarone didn’t make me hallucinate, which sounds like a good thing, and the side effects were barely noticeable.

A year ago, it was by far the best option for someone going to a malaria-risk zone. Not anymore. Scientists at Sanaria, a Maryland biotech firm, have made a malaria vaccine called PfSPZ that has proven effective in protecting against the disease in a Phase I clinical trial. Like most vaccines, this new one uses a form of the disease for inoculation. You take infected mosquitoes and subject them to radiation, weakening the parasites. They then extracted the virus from the mosquitoes’ salivary glands, and then cryopreserved them.