Sunday, February 28, 2016

Carlo Ratti's mile-high park in the sky would be world's tallest building




If Carlo Ratti's newly-announced observation tower comes to fruition (and it's a big "if"), it will be as much a sight to behold as the views it provides. The proposed structure is a mile high, which would make it not only the tallest observation tower in the world, but also the world's tallest building by some distance.
Aptly named, The Mile would reach 1,609 m (5,279 ft) into the sky, or one mile exactly. To put that into perspective, the world's current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, is just over half that height, at 830 m (2,723 ft). Even the Jeddah Tower, which is under construction and due to be completed in 2018, will only stretch to 1,000 m (3,281 ft), making it the world's first kilometer-high building.
Consequently, it is only reasonable to view The Mile with a degree of skepticism. Even if it's a legitimate proposal, so many things can derail projects of such cinematic ambition that they can easily end up on the cutting room floor. But a legitimate proposal is exactly what Carlo Ratti Associati assures Gizmag this is. "The Mile is a real project, with a client, although it is only in the first phase now," we are told.
Developed in partnership with German engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann und Partner and British digital design studio Atmos, The Mile will be a vertical park and publicly accessible observation deck. Visitors will ascend to the top in "sculptural capsules" that orbit the shaft of the tower. Once there, there will be a viewing deck, a "sky walkway" and a restaurant.
The capsules will be able to host meetings, dinners and concerts, and even, we are told, be home to pools. Visitors will be able to digitally interact with the surrounding views via augmented reality screens and experience the panorama in a variety of different ways.
At 20-m (66-ft) wide, the tower shaft will have a height-to-width aspect ratio of around 80:1, considerably larger than that of the British Airways i360 in Brighton, UK, which is currently recognized as the world's most slender tower. An engineering study is said to have been carried out to develop a means of achieving this, with the structure to be kept in compression and secured using a net of pre-stressed cables.
"The structural concept for The Mile is technically feasible because of its consequent and uncompromised lightweight approach," said associate and team leader at Schlaich Bergermann und Partner Boris Reyher. "The architectural form and the spatial equilibrium of forces become one and the same thing."
In addition, it is envisaged that the tower will be covered by plants and greenery from bottom to top, providing a habitat for animals. Carlo Ratti likens the planned result to taking New York's Central Park, standing it on its end, rolling it up and then twisting it.
The client for whom the project is being developed, a planned location and any construction dates remain undisclosed. More information will no doubt be forthcoming when the project is presented at the MIPIM property show on March 16, though, at which point we may get a better idea of its feasibility.
Source: Carlo Ratti Associati

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

UFO Enthusiast Flies Drone Over Area 51 To See If The Truth Is Out There After All






NASA wants to use a giant laser to get to Mars in 3 days




Despite how far we've come in space exploration, one thing still holding us back from interstellar travel is our slow spacecraft.
While we're able to propel particles to close to the speed of light in the lab, we're struggling to even accelerate spacecraft tobeyond 3 percent of that. With our current technology, it's estimated it'll take humans around five months to reach Mars.
But NASA scientist Philip Lubin is working on a system where lasers propel spacecraft with giant sails to the Red Planet in as little as three days.
Much like Bill Nye's much-hyped solar sail, this 'photonic propulsion' system relies on the momentum of photons - particles of light - to move forward. But instead of photons from the Sun's rays, Lubin's design would be given a push by giant Earth-based lasers.
It sounds pretty far-fetched, but in a video for NASA 360, Lubin explains that the technology is very much readily available, and that the system could easily be scaled up.
"There are recent advances that take this from science fiction to science reality," Lubin explains. "There is no known reason why we can not do this."
But let's step back for a second and investigate how the system works. Right now, when we launch spacecraft, the thrust comes from burning a chemical, such as rocket fuel. Not only does this fuel source weigh down spacecraft, it's also an incredibly inefficient system when compared to electromagnetic acceleration, which is the use of light or other electromagnetic radiation to accelerate objects.
"Electromagnetic acceleration is only limited by the speed of light while chemical systems are limited to the energy of chemical processes," writes Lubin in a paper on the technology.
But while electromagnetic acceleration in the lab is relatively straightforward, it requires a lot of complicated and expensive equipment - such as the ring of superconducting magnets that make up the Large Hadron Collider - and hasn't been easy to scale up to the size required for space travel.
One candidate propulsion system, known as the 'impossible' EM Drive, has received a whole lot of attention for allegedly achieving electromagnetic acceleration, but NASA scientists still haven't been able to figure out how it works, or prove that it wasn't an experimental anomaly. 
Photonic propulsion, on the other hand, works in theory, regardless of the scale, making it a more viable candidate.
So how do photons work to propel something as big as a spacecraft? Despite not having any mass, particles of light have both energy and momentum, and when they reflect off an object, that momentum is transferred into a little push. With a large, reflective sail, it's possible to generate enough momentum to gradually accelerate a spacecraft.
While Lubin and his team haven't yet tried out their system, their calculations show that photonic propulsion could get a 100-kg robotic craft to Mars in just three days. 
A larger craft, like the kind humans might travel in, would take around a month to get there - one-fifth of the time it would take the Space Launch System (SLS), the world's most powerful rocket currently being developed to take us to Mars.
Lubin also explains that in the 10 minutes it will take to get the SLS into orbit, photonic propulsion could propel a spacecraft to an unheard-of 30 percent the speed of light - and it would also use a similar amount of chemical energy (50 to 100 gigawatts) to do so.
But the real benefit of photonic propulsion comes over longer distances, where the spacecraft has more time to speed up, and could eventually take us outside our Solar System and to neighbouring stars.
To be clear, the system isn't designed to send humans across interstellar distances - first of all,robots are far better equipped for that mission, and secondly, we'd be far too heavy. Instead, Lubin proposes wafer-thin spacecraft that can get close to the speed of light.
But sending our own artificial intelligence to these distant solar systems - especially ones that potentially harbour habitable planets - would still be huge.
"The human factor of exploring the nearest stars and exoplanets would be a profound voyage for humanity, one whose non-scientific implications would be enormous," writes Lubin. "It is time to begin this inevitable journey beyond our home."
Lubin and his team last year received a proof-of-concept grant from NASA to show that photonic propulsion could be used for space travel, so we should start seeing some real-life results soon. Let's hope that the reality lives up to the hype, because we're pretty excited.
Find out more in the NASA 360 video:

Read the original article on ScienceAlert. Copyright 2016. Follow ScienceAlert on Twitter

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