Repair Robots In Space

This is a cool video by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on project Phoenix–which is a robot that can repair satellites in space and re-use components from retired satellites around it.

Phoenix can intercept, scavenge, and rebuild satellites in space–while orbiting above the Earth at 22,000 miles!

In the corner of the video, you can see progress being made in the lab, and in the main video frame you can see an animated version of how this would actually be put to use.

Machines working on, building, and repairing machines!

Like the fulfillment of a Terminator-like society, where machines can function with autonomy, eventually learning, self-healing, and even propagating.

I would imagine that these machines can help not only repurpose and recycle material in space to good use and fix things, but also they can clean up the space junk in orbit–similar to street sweeper trucks in Manhattan!

Eventually, these robots will travel to distance worlds–first Mars–to build human colonies and maintain them in inhospitable environments.

In mythology, Phoenix is a bird that regenerates and is reborn–in this case, this may be the beginning of the rebirth of human civilization throughout the galaxy. 😉

Undersea Internet Cables-See Them for Yourself

Gregs_cable_map

I’ve always been interested in maps, geography, and geospatial information systems (GIS). 

Coming across Greg’s Cable Map–I thought this is sort of idiosyncratic, but fascinating too. 
This is an interactive map of our global undersea telecommunications infrastructure.
If you ever wondered how you were able to connect with someone anywhere in the world in split seconds (satellites aside–since we all don’t have immediate access to that), here it is.
How it works: Either you can search the list of cables of the right, click on any one of interest and it highlights it on the map for you or vice versa click on a telecommunications link on the map and it bring up in the right-hand column the points of the cable landings and reference to more information . 
Another cool feature, is the ability to display the telecommunications infrastructure from before, during, or since any period of time–so you can get a historical perspective of what the Internet for example looked like or didn’t look like only ten or fifteen years ago. Can anyone say carrier pigeon?  🙂
There is also the ability to click on the bottom of the map on the check boxes for either or both the active or future cable links to see where we are now (“as-is”) and where we are going (“to-be”) in terms of Internet connectivity. 
Next time you read in the newspaper about a large-scale Internet outage like the multiple ones that occurred when undersea cables were cut in the Mediterranean in 2008 causing outages from the Mideast to India, you can look it up here and see for yourself how “the foot bones connected to the ankle bone.”  
Enjoy and have a good weekend!