The scientific community has always been responsible for pushing the boundaries of our knowledge in order to improve the technologies that we have at hand. The scientific industry is itself a thriving market of change and improvement, where progression occurs at phenomenal rates. But what are the current boundary-pushing inventions and research is being carried out?
It is important to remember that scientific research does not simply relate to one particular area or field of the subject, but rather encompasses everything within its incredibly broad spectrum. Recent research and development has been made both in the technological fields and the medical, so here are a few examples of the latest breakthrough developments.
Mars Rover Landing Technology
The $2.5 billion Mars rover (named Curiosity) will utilise a new form of landing technique, known as sky crane architecture. The new architecture, which has not yet been tested, is named after heavy lifting helicopters which are implemented within the construction of skyscrapers.
The architecture itself works by the rover falling free of a parachute approximately one mile above the surface. A descent stage, which contains 8 small rocket engines, will then manoeuvre the rover to a safe landing zone. Pulsating radar beams will constantly update the computer on the altitude and motion of the rover, allowing the two thousand pound (lb) device to be lowered safely.
The technology is designed to enable more precise landings of heavier cargos and will remove the need for a landing pad, placing the rover’s wheels directly onto the planet’s surface instead. Previous technology for Mars rovers have required landing equipment such as cushioning airbags and landing pads, so this is a prime example of scientific research.
The Diamond Synchrotron Facility
This impressive facility, based at Harwell Oxford Science Park, is capable of aiding research in everything from health care to archaeology, with recent developments bringing hope that it will be able to help speed up the diagnosis of cancer. The technology itself accelerates electrons in order to reach a rate near the speed of light. This therefore generates astounding beams of light which can be used for academic research as well as business development.
The beams of light created can be anything from Infrared to X rays and are applicable to a range of different scientific disciplines. The Diamond Synchrotron was opened in 2007 and currently has 18 operational beam-lines, with a further four under construction.
‘Smart Skin’ Technology
This innovative development is a small, electronic platform which attaches to the upper epidermis of human skin and acts much like an interactive computer chip. The device is comprised of micro-circuitry which is designed for medical purposes, such as monitoring heart rates. The device is capable of bending and stretching with the movement of skin making it far less obtrusive than traditional methods of monitoring such measurements. The technology is also seen to have huge potential, with predictions that it could become a human interface system already being made by its developers. If this was to happen, the possibilities for the technology would be endless and could see patients with muscular or neurological disorders using them to communicate their ideas directly to computers.
Rachel is a freelance blogger with a particular interest in space exploration.