Maastricht Economic and social Research and  training centre on Innovation and Technology

 
I&T Weekly holiday break
I&T Weekly is taking a holiday break. We will be back on Friday, January 12, 2018 with a fresh selection of innovation and technology news. On behalf of the entire UNU-MERIT team, we wish our readers an excellent 2018!




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All headlines
  • France announces landmark ban on fossil fuel production
  • Extreme laser bursts may lead to practical nuclear fusion
  • Gene editing staves off deafness in mice
  • Integrated circuits could make quantum computers scalable
  • 'Water cloak' uses electromagnetic waves to eliminate turbulence
  • Cold cigarette lighter will power satellite
  • Sun's gravity could power interstellar video streaming
    Need to send a message across interstellar space? Use the sun for a signal boost. A new proposal suggests that the sun's gravity could be used to amplify signals from an interstellar space probe, allowing video to be streamed from as far away as Alpha Centauri. Better still, the technology to do it has already been invented.

    Though we don't have probes far out enough to take advantage of this technology yet, it may eventually come in handy for interstellar communications. Building the communications grid now makes calls to our own spacecraft a future possibility.

    To receive even a single-watt signal from a probe in Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to our own, independent astrophysicist Michael Hippke found that an Earth-based instrument would need to be 53 kms across. In his study, Hippke proposes instead that a telescope about a metre across could relay the signal. It would just have to be placed at a point about 90bn km from the sun - a distance that would optimise an effect known as gravitational lensing to magnify the signal.

    Such a signal boost would be important for building receivers for any mission to interstellar space. Without it, we'd need to construct massive telescopes on Earth and send probes to interstellar space large enough to carry immense power sources.

    With the gravitational-lensing effect, a little power would go a long way towards transmitting data back to our solar system. The data rate would be high enough that sending pictures and video is possible, although at present it would still take four years to receive any data stream from as far away as Alpha Centauri.

    New Scientist / arxiv.org/abs/1706.05570    June 30, 2017