The Future of Your Commute?
Earlier this summer, China unveiled a toy model for a giant bus that essentially hovers over traffic, the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB). Not the sexiest name in the world, but the bus certainly has a cool, futuristic look to it, a sort of moving overpass that runs on electricity supplemented by solar panels on its roof. Eco-friendly changes to a city's metro system are always good, but when it comes to a country with pollution so dire that it's actually had to issue alerts, close schools, and limit traffic, green designs like the TEB are urgently needed. The TEB made its first official road test on August 2 in the city of Qinhuangdao, while a cheering crowd looked on—probably the first time anyone has ever clapped for a bus.
One Ticket to Space, Please
You might be able to become an astronaut soon, without any real training whatsoever. Virgin Galactic, the spaceline division of Virgin, recently received its first operating license from the Federal Aviation Administration for its SpaceShipTwo flight craft. Certain tests must be completed and conditions met before Virgin Galactic can launch its first commercial flight, but 700 people have already put down hefty $250,000 deposits, making space tourism a soon-to-be reality, rather than simply a nice daydream. The spacecraft will reach an altitude of about 62 miles, and, according to Virgin Galactic, all six passengers on every flight "will earn official astronaut status."
Bring in the Mutants
It was pretty much a certainty that the Zika virus would spread to U.S. cities this summer, and reports of infections in Miami, while unsettling, are unsurprising. The scientists at Oxitec, a biotech company based in the U.K., have been preparing for mosquito-borne outbreaks of various diseases for years. Oxitec developed a genetically modified male mosquito that mates with the female Aedes aegypti (the female is the carrier of the Zika virus), resulting in offspring that do not live long enough to reproduce, thus dwindling the mosquito population. The lab mosquito has been approved for release for testing on Key Haven, and Oxitec may introduce as many as 20 to 100 mosquitoes per person onto the island.
Venus Was Once Habitable and We Missed Out
Today, the planet Venus has a super-dense atmosphere of boiling sulfur dioxide, and it's generally considered a noxious, cloudy, once-volcanic dump, as far as planets go. But a study recently published in Geophysical Research Letters suggests that, 3 billion years ago, Venus had an atmosphere with Earth-like temperatures and lovely, liquid oceans. In the early days of the solar system, Venus might not have been a bad little vacation spot. Sucks now, though.