A Barcelona-based architecture studio, Equip Claramunt, and a team of engineers from Florida have developed the prototype of a new space hotel for tourists and astronauts.
Each room of the Galactic Suite is hosted in a capsule. The rooms are 7 meter wide and 4 meters high, they have no angle nor straight lines. Whenever they'd want to eat, sleep or watch the space through the huge windows, guest would "stick" --using velcro or similar systems-- to some protuberances on the sides of the room.
Architect Xavier Claramunt explained that the hotel would be installed with the help of a space shuttle which would carry up to three rooms at a time. Up to 22 capsules in total would be affixed to the central nucleus.
So far only models and computer renderings have been created, the team is looking for investors.
Related: Robert Bigelow's inflatable space hotel.
Fabian Winkler's PI (personal interpreters) is a set of small robotic devices, which deconstruct TV broadcasts' audio signals. The robots interpret the regular audio signal as control code and translate it into abstract rhythmic sounds.
PIs can be plugged into the sound output of a TV set (via RCA cables). Using suction cups, individual modules can be attached anywhere to the surface of the TV. These modules translate the sound output from TV broadcasts into movements of mechanized parts that scratch, hit and thump on the surface of the TV set using it as a resonant body. The audience still sees the images but hears only the deconstructed sounds created by the robotic modules - vaguely reminding them of the original soundtrack but challenging them to interpret it in new ways.
Check the project at ZeroOne San Jose, this summer.
For an intervention on images, and in a sousveillance/surveillance context this time, Austrian activists Quintessenz created an anonymous surveillance system that uses a face-recognition software to place a black stripe over the eyes of people whose images are recorded (via Wired).
New Scientist reported today on a video surveillance system that scrambles people's faces to protect them from unwarranted monitoring. Developed by Swiss company EMITALL Surveillance, the algorithm of the technology singles out any people in a video feed, on the basis of their movement, and disguises them digitally while leaving the rest of the scene intact (Videos 1, 2 and 3). Only those in possession of the encryption key can unlock the scrambled regions and identify the people shown on-screen.
Plans to spring-clean space junk orbiting Earth could result in the loss of irreplaceable historical artefacts, warns Alice Gorman of Flinders University in Adelaide. The researcher, who has previously called for space junk to be World Heritage listed, says it's time to assess the value of some of the millions of objects currently orbiting Earth.
Space junk ranges from tiny scraps just millimetres in size to whole satellites. While some space junk undergoes an "automatic clean-up regime" by burning up when it re-enters the atmosphere, other items need to be physically removed.
Current proposals include using ground-based lasers to put objects off orbit and speed the rate of their burn-up, sending out 'space tugs' as roving garbage collectors or using tethers to rope and haul in bits of space debris.
Among the items that should recognised for their heritage value are the Vanguard One satellite, launched in 1958 and the oldest human object in space, and FedSat, the Australian designed and built satellite.
Preserving items like these could provide evidence of a nation's presence in space or help reconstruct a history of space exploration, says Gorman.
Britain’s Defence Intelligence Staff have come up with "a reasonably justified explanation" to solve the mystery of UFO.
After a four-year inquiry, they have concluded that most sightings can be explained by a little-understood atmospheric phenomenon.
Glowing "plasmas" of gas are created by charges of electricity. Air flows then sculpt the plasmas into round or cigar-shaped objects which appear to fly at extraordinary speeds through the sky.
Such plasmas can play tricks on the mind, creating vivid impressions. In addition, because plasmas are electrically charged, they can change shape or colour if hit by another energy source, such as a radio signal sent by a UFO spotter. "This has led ‘ufologists’ to imagine that an ‘alien response’ is being given to their signals," the report adds. As a result, UFO witnesses may not be mad but instead suffering from "extended memory retention and repeat experiences" induced by the plasmas.
The report goes on to recommend that the findings on UFOs could be developed for "novel military applications", adding that Russia is already investigating such weapons.
It has been a bad year for fans of UFOs and green invaders. Last month, Special effects expert John Humphreys claimed he was one of the hoaxers behind the Roswell incident, footage supposedly showing an autopsy on alien corpses in 1947.
Tomas Saraceno will be at theThe Curve 11 May 2006 - 16 July 2006, Barbican Art Gallery, London. His long-term project draws on Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, and artistic disciplines in order to create a floating Utopia that would drift among the clouds to solve the world's exploding population problem.
A few decades ago, some architects had a similar vision of suspended or moving communities: Superstudio's City of the Hemispheres and Archigram's moving units, Seaside Bubbles and Yona Friedman's spatial cities. Friedman developed his principles shortly after the Second World War, a period in which acute housing shortage and urban rebuilding had to be addressed. The architect proposed huge structures, supported on columns, in which residents could build their own dwellings. He later developed manuals in the form of comic-books that enabled people to take decisions about the design of their own living environment (audio interview of the architect in french.)
Commercial space travel is becoming a reality, says Lin, and the public needs confidence that governments, scientists and astronauts are considering the consequences of exploring space.
For instance, we need a fair process for commercialising or claiming property in space to avoid the kind of "chaotic land-grab" that occurred with internet domain names. There are legal disputes already. Despite UN treaties declaring space as commonly-owned, he says lawsuits have been filed to lay claim to asteroids.
Lin says it is important to have a justifiable reason for exploring space. "Are reasons such as for adventure, wanderlust or 'backing up the biosphere' good enough to justify our exploration of space?"
Lin says issues such as polluting space, the proliferation of military technologies in space and the safety of space travellers should also be considered. "Have we learned enough about ourselves and our history to avoid the same mistakes as we have made on Earth?"
Finally, some critics suggest it may be better to spend money on alleviating poverty and hunger, providing access to clean and affordable water and energy, and addressing other issues including human rights violations.