technology


The latest deadly example of a complete lack of common sense in the outdoors: 11 Year old Boy dies in Death Valley

Completely avoidable tragic events happen when people completely ignore common sense.  If this woman didn’t have GPS and a cell phone would she have gone off road into Death Valley to go camping?  Would she have registered with the park service?  Would she have brought more than a single case of water?

In the modern world, we sometimes forget that there are large expanses of harsh environment where we need knowledge of survival techniques if something goes wrong.  We rely on technology so much in our everyday lives that we lose the ability to step back and solve problems the old fashioned way – by using a little common sense an doing some basic research before we jump in the car and take off.

Sad.  Very sad.  Will people learn from this?  Probably not.  Once this story runs it’s course through the news and morning talk show circuits, it’ll be forgotten by the very people who need to pay attention.  People like Alicia Sanchez taking their child out for an overnight camping trip.

A couple of weeks ago, the Hubble Telescope suffered from a serious hardware malfunction in the data handling circuitry.  A remote repair is now planned with the hopes that some of the telescopes 18 year old redundant circuitry can be utilized.

A trip by the space shuttle Atlantis to add new instruments has been delayed due to the problem and will need to be rescheduled.

The Hubble is the most famous of all deep space telescopes due to the controversial cost and a history of problems.  Overall though, it is hard to argue with the vast knowledge that has been gleaned from Hubble data.  Many serious questions have been answered and new mysteries have resulted but most memorable to me are the wonderful images that have been captured (once the flawed mirror was replaced during the first service mission.)

More info at Hubblesite.org Space.com and Nasa.com.

California startup NanoH20 has recently secured $15 Million to further develop a water purification membrane using 3D nano particles.  The technology is claimed to dramatically increase the efficiency of reverse osmosis water filtering systems such as desalinization plants.  Fresh water availability is one of the biggest issues facing 3rd world countries today, leading to starvation due to drought as well as disease due to consumption of contaminated water.

This may not be the Holy Grail in terms of being able to supply everyone with fresh water but it is another example of the dramatic technological advances being made with nano-tech materials research.  If the material does what NanoH2O claims, look for them to be scooped up by someone in 2009.

More info at Technology Review