Information that deserves attention, 16

These are the articles and videos from the previous week I found most interesting.

  1. Land Rover and Virgin Galactic
  2. Rosetta Spacecraft Rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
  3. Haptic Feedback at the Fingertips
  4. Robotic Insects
  5. Art of Sound
  6. The Danger Theory
  7. Fate of Antarctica

Land Rover and Virgin Galactic

The Visionaries

You do have to be bold, brave, willing to take risks. If you go into the unknown you are going to learn something. If you learn something you will develop as a person. You just never must lose sight of end vision.

The Visionaries

Phil Popham, Group Marketing Director for Land Rover and George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic talk about how a shared vision and ambition between two unique brands like Land Rover and Virgin Galactic is based on a pioneering spirit, a determination to go above and beyond and ultimately into the unknown.

Land Rover and Virgin Galactic share a common heritage, defined by a passion for safe but innovative transportation systems, designed to go above and beyond.

Both brands celebrate the spirit of adventure with an aim to inspire a new generation of explorers and epic adventures over land and into a world beyond our own.

Find out more at

The Adventurers

You need to accept a certain element of risk, if you do not accept risk then you are cutting yourself off from an awful lot of opportunities.

The Adventurers

Karl Richards, Principal Engineer & Test Driver at Land Rover and Dave Mackay, Virgin Galactic Head Pilot talk about pushing everything as far as you possibly can.

The Engineers

We want the engineering team to be creative, to think outside of what they would normally do; and some of the things people come up with, you just think: How would that ever work?!

The Engineers

Matt Stinemetze, programme manager for Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo, Tony Harper Head of Research and Advanced System Engineering and Murray Dietsch Land Rover Programmes Director talk about the challenges of building for the future.

The Designers

Less is more for me. It’s about pairing back, about reduction, it’s about creating something that connects with a person, something that they actually want to use.

You should not be thinking about the destination, life is a journey, you should be savoring it.

The Designers

Land Rover Design Director, Gerry McGovern and Adam Wells, Head of Design at Virgin Galactic, talk about creating something truly compelling that will last long after we’ve gone to space.

Rosetta Spacecraft

Rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Muon Ray

Using a series of rocket thruster maneuvers, the Rosetta spacecraft was driven into “orbit” around its target comet, signalling the start of its main science phase. The spacecraft will now track comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for a year, following it through its closest approach to the sun to monitor how the extra heating affects the icy surface and generates the famous tail for which comet’s are famous for.

More importantly, Rosetta and its lander, Philae, will study the composition of the comet, which has not only preserved the chemical artifacts of the early solar system for over 4.5 Billion years but has contained secrets relating to where the chemicals present on the planet’s came from, including earth. For example, the lander will analyse the percentage of deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen, in the water ice on the comet and compare it to the known percentage of deuterium on Earth’s seawater which may help answer the question “where did Earth’s water come from?”, as scientists have long speculated that Earth’s water, and indeed the water of most locale’s in the solar system, originated from collisions with comets.

Moreover, the comet may contain complex organic molecules, generated by chemical process over billions of years of solar radiation, thawing and freezing occurring on the comet’s surface, which may have been the origin for some of the complex biological molecules that were present on the early earth allowing for the origin of life. Hence, this mission has huge scientific importance in the field of astrophysics, geology, chemistry and astrobiology and the technological knowledge of performing such a mission is also invaluable as mankind plans future missions to similar low gravity bodies in the solar system.

The orbiting phase is crucial to this missions success and it is truly a difficult maneuver as it requires the Rosetta team to literally engineer orbits in a way unlike anything accomplished before. The oddly shaped comet, has an acceleration due to gravity on the surface of the comet has estimated for simulation purposes at 10-3 m·s-2,or about one ten-thousandth of that on Earth. This is not enough gravity to fully hold the spacecraft. Hence, using the spacecraft’s series of rockets, the flight team will “drive” the spacecraft in triangular-shaped orbits in a corkscrew-like fashion, gradually lowering the altitude from 100km to around 30km after which the Comet’s gravity will make a Keplerian, or elliptical orbit, possible.

The last time the European Space Agency mounted a comet mission was back in 1986. The mission was called Giotto and the comet was the famous one named after Edmond Halley, the 18th century astronomer who predicted its return.

One of 5 spacecraft from across the nations of the Earth, forming a fleet of spaceships known as the “Halley Flotilla”, the event was back then broadcast on live television. Viewers were promised the first ever view of the nucleus of a comet – the mountainous iceberg that would evaporate to give the ghostly tails for which Halley’s comet was famous for throughout history.

Around the time of closest approach, the signal from the spacecraft disappeared. The guests were left with no recourse but to speculate about whether Giotto could have been destroyed by the dust and debris coming off the nucleus.

When the pictures did arrived they were incomprehensible. They were garishly colour-coded, and not even the experts could interpret them. No one knew at the time the beauty of the comet that would be revealed by subsequent analysis.

Rosetta and Philae will go even further, not only having a front row seat to when the comet’s tail begins to form but both having eyes on the ground and in orbit when it happens creating a truly cinematic experience that will, hopefully, go down as one of the most striking space missions of the last decade and one which may help boost investment and interest in space and science across the board for evermore ambitious missions into the universe.

The Rosetta Mission Asks: What is a Comet?

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Rosetta Mission Asks: What is a Comet? Scientists attempt to answer these questions and more as the Rosetta Mission’s Orbiter arrives and escorts comet 67/p Churyumov Gerasimenko into our inner solar system.

Haptic Feedback at the Fingertips

Microsoft Research

Presenting fingertip haptics: touch feedback on flat keyboards and touchscreens. Imagine feeling key clicks while typing on a Touch Cover or a Windows Phone, and locating a tile on a touchscreen through its unique tactile texture. Such effects are realized with piezoelectric actuators and electrostatic haptics technology.

Robotic Insects

Robert Wood

Electrical engineer Robert Wood leads a team at Harvard University that invents and develops entirely new classes of microrobots poised to play a transformative role in medicine, search-and-rescue missions, and agriculture.

Robot origami: Watch a flat sheet fold itself into a bot, go for a walk
Ars Technica Videos

Self-Folding Origami Robot Goes From Flat to Walking in Four Minutes
IEEE Spectrum

Robot folds itself up and walks away
Harvard University

Art of Sound



This visually awesome experiment shows the complex patterns of sound waves in sand, letting you see what your brain hears.



Bose and Spotify pull back the curtain on the science of sound to understand how music elicits emotion. Created at Studio G in Brooklyn with producer Joel Hamilton and friends, Art of Sound is an 8-part series of fun experiments to help you understand how you can see and feel sound. We’ll also explore tricks of the trade like pitch correction, looping, digital signal processing, reverb, amplification and more.

Feeling Sound

Feeling Sound

In the second installment of Art of Sound, the Bose and Spotify team explore the effects of low frequencies. Watch to see how bass affects us emotionally, and how powerful the physical force of bass can be. Surfaces shake, wine glasses topple and the experiment turns messy.

Aiming Sound

Aiming Sound

If a song has ever made you feel happy or sad, you’ve been affected most likely by the high pitches. The science behind it is pretty interesting. Explore what’s going on at the intersection of our brains, emotions and music in episode 3 of Art of Sound, an 8-part series we created with Spotify, Joel Hamilton and this episode’s special guest, Liam Finn.

Altering Sound

Altering Sound

Our DIY science experiment series explores studio technology that can enhance or alter a singer’s sound. You’ll see how producers can tweak pitch to create a completely new feel. This 4th episode in the series features jazz singer-songwriter Sasha Dobson.

Creating Sound

Creating Sound

The fifth installment of Art of Sound takes a different path than past episodes. It delves into the creative process of the two-member band Museum of Love as they create a unique, intricately layered sound that’s born on the spot in studio, rather than pre-conceived.

Amplifying Sound

Amplifying Sound

Sound is four-dimensional, moving not just through the room, but also through time. In episode 6 of our Art of Sound series we plug in and find out what reverb is, how amplification changes the presence of music and more.

Looping Sound

Looping Sound

Before the advent of modern recording equipment, producers would use a length of analog tape to create a loop of sound. In episode 7 of Art of Sound, we explore the craft of looping, plus sampling and pitch shifting vocals or instrumental arrangements.

Experiencing Sound

Experiencing Sound

Without musicians, sound would not be music. So in this final episode of Art of Sound, we talk to three inspiring musicians about what it means to create music, how to find perfection in what you create and how the components of music come together to move the listener.

The Danger Theory


Artificial Immune Systems are taking on board cutting edge immunology research and creating algorithms that exploit it. Dr Julie Greensmith explains The Danger Theory.

Fate of Antarctica


The episode of Cosmic Journeys explores the intersection of paleoclimate and current climate science. Through its turbulent history, Antarctica has played an important role in the evolution of planet Earth. This role will likely continue as a warming global climate begins to eat away at the ice sheets that cover the continent. The fate of the world as we know it is linked to the fate of Antarctica.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: