DARPA’s Self-Steering Bullets

Think Angelina Jolie shooting curved trajectory shots with her gun in the movie Wanted. Well, the end result is not exactly fictional anymore (the technique is). I recently stumbled upon the following video demonstrating DARPA’s new self-steering bullet technology and it blew my mind.Here’s the video:

The video shows new missile-like self-steering projectiles hitting a moving target, only this time these are not missiles but 0.5 caliber sized sniper bullets (0.5 inches internal diameter of the gun’s barrel). As seen in the video, enabled by technology, a novice-sniper seems to be able to make a fairly good shot. On a funnier note, I see it like the autotune technology that helps music artists to fit their out of tune recording to a perfect tune.

Jokes aside, watching this smart bullet change its path mid-air, stirred up the curious cat that lives in my head. I would have had a tough time sleeping without knowing how DARPA’s self-steering bullet actually works. So, armed with free journal access (being a Ph.D. student has its perks), I fired up my google scholar and started looking for white papers with some mention of these keywords. With this technology being developed under DARPA, it’s of course one of those hush-hush things and was sure I won’t find much. Still, I was happy to glean a tiny hint of its inner workings.

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New Technology Could Change Our Approach to Space Exploration

by Megan Ray Nichols

NASA and other space agencies continue to work tirelessly on finding new technology to make deep space exploration a possibility. The Korean Institute of Science and Technology, or KAIST, as well as NASA are currently working on a new technology involving self-healing silicon chips for spacecraft that will make the interstellar trip in the near future.

NASA will present the technology at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco in December 2016. The largest hurdle scientists have faced in regards to sending deep space probes is the intense radiation from the other stars and planets. This new technology will allow the silicon chips to heal after radiation exposure using a transistor made from nanowire technology.

How Self-Healing Chip Technology Works

As a deep space probe travels, its exposure to large amounts of radiation causes degradation before the probe can reach the end of its journey. Although a space shuttle or probe may run into other challenges such as heating and cooling or fuel issues, scientists believe the destruction from radiation scenario is avoidable by using a gate to surround the nanowire transistors.

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Pet Food Tasters

Food tasting has been a serious profession since the times of kings. Kings and other important people used to have their personal food tasters who were responsible to determine if the food was safe to eat. From ancient Rome to the present date – Romans used slaves as food tasters, Olympics chose mice for the job, Hitler had an army of 15 women who used to taste his food before him and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president has a food taster among the security staff. I’m sure the US president has one too, but the secret service refuses to confirm any details or even the existence of a person with such a job in his security staff.

Since ancient times the job of a human food taster has turned into a professional job which has a much widened application today. Professional food tasters can be a part of a sensory/consumer or expert panel, are employed by labs and food testing companies to evaluate and improve certain food products for their taste, nutrition etc. Most such jobs require you to have a distinctly evolved sense of taste, a previous professional experience or a degree in something like food science.

At first, getting paid to eat food sounds like a great idea. Well, it doesn’t even sound good if you are going to taste pet food. Anyway, even human food tasting can be hard. It can be a repetitive job. Food flavorists working to test the flavors of teas for instance might have to taste more than 500 cups of tea a day. Plus you might not even qualify for it because of lack of sensory sharpness which is usually a rare genetic trait, or is usually developed by years of training.

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