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Txch This Week: Drone Internet Providers and Dissolving Batteries

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by Norman Rozenberg

This week on Txchnologist, we looked at innovation offering perspectives from the cosmic scale all the way down to strands of DNA. First, NASA unveiled a 360-degree view of the Milky Way, the galaxy we call home. The interactive 20-gigapixel map is the result of 10 years of telescope imaging and work.

Next, looked at an interesting entrant into the ranks of digital currencies—this one looking to stoke investmentment in solar energy production. The project, inspired by BitCoin, pays one SolarCoin for every megawatt-hour of electricity your solar panels produce.

Researchers in Germany have created a material that is less dense than water and stronger than steel. The polymer and alumina structure was inspired by wood, bone and honeycombs.

A breakthrough in cancer research could be around the corner thanks to more than 239,000 computers from around the world that are working together. The virtual supercomputer has uncovered the folding steps that activate a protein key to disease progression. Meanwhile, researchers are working on stimulating parts of the brain with electricity to boost learning and brain activity.

Scientists have sequenced Loblolly Pine DNA, making it the largest genome decoded and analyzed to date. A research team from 12 institutions banded together and used cutting-edge techniques to read and assemble the DNA code.

Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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2012’s Biggest Science and Technology Stories

by Ysabel Yates

It was a year for setting precedents. We went deep to the ocean’s bottom and farther into space in 2012 than ever before. People broke new records in the name of science and technology, from the “seven minutes of terror” of NASA’s Curiosity Mars descent to Felix Baumgartner’s ten-minute fall from the edge of space.

It was also a big year in science and technology ethics, with some difficult questions coming out of tragedy and breakthrough. Decisions by authorities to prosecute scientists accused of failing to predict a devastating earthquake and the publishing of controversial bird flu study results have forced us to confront how we use scientific information and how we will continue to use it in the future.

While this list is by no means exhaustive of all the biggest science and technology news made this year, we’ve documented a range of stories that set the tone in 2012 and will no doubt have influence in the years to come.

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2012’s Best Science Photos (IMHO)

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by Ysabel Yates

Our cups ran over with the many beautiful and amazing images scientists and satellites captured this year when they looked around and out from Earth. From things microscopic to those light years across, and from morning coffee to the deep recesses scattered around the universe, we bring you some of our favorite science pictures created in 2012.

These are in no particular order and by no means inclusive of all the best.

1. The first, above, comes from Hinode - a joint JAXA/NASA mission to study the connections of the sun’s surface magnetism. The project brings us this unique image of the transit of Venus between the Earth and sun, the once-in-a-lifetime event that occurred on June 5. Courtesy: JAXA/NASA/Lockheed Martin.

Click through to see the rest.

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By Morgen E. Peck

It may be weeks yet before the Mars Rover team at NASA reveals the nature of its big discovery, the one they’ve referred to as “for the history books.” And there’s only one way to fill this awkward silence. Let’s talk about the weather.

Better yet, let’s look at it.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured a mosaic image of a massive sand storm that churned up last week between the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars Rovers, on the southern hemisphere of the planet. A second image taken this Sunday shows the winds pulling back (after the jump). Although the storm never reached either rover, Curiosity’s environmental monitoring station has picked up changes in air pressure and atmospheric temperature.

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