On The Atlantic, Robison Meyer looks at the work behind creating Ralph, one of the three cameras on NASA's New Horizons probe. Currently snapping high-resolution photos of Pluto, the camera was made entirely out of aluminium so that it would survive nine years in space, while being bombarded by cosmic rays, at ridiculously cold temperatures.
Even the camera’s mirrors were made out of aluminum. (To turn dull aluminum into mirrors, Ball sharpened it with diamonds.) The lens was one of the few pieces of the camera that could be safely made out of glass.
Another constraint on the mission was that Ralph had to take photos using only the sun’s dim light that reaches Pluto. During its flyby, New Horizons will photograph the side of Pluto that’s turned away from the sun. This side is lit solely by the sun’s light reflecting off Charon. This is like taking a photo using just the light from a “quarter moon” on Earth, a lead optical engineer for the mission told me in an email.
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|“That science fiction future where robots can do what people and animals do may be closer than you think.”|
|“Human and animal cells can be 3D printed into high-resolution tissue.”|
|“This conversation about how technology is hijacking people is really catching on.”|
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|“Nobody is forcing the participants to stay, of course, but if they leave, they won’t be paid.”|
|“Eliminating the time needed to stop and re-charge a conventional electric car’s battery.”|
|“Our Internet handlers, not government, are using operant conditioning to modify our behaviour today.”|
|“We’re going to start to see chip implants get the same realm of acceptance as piercings and tattoos.”|
|“During this phase of decline, the US was likely to go through a phase of reactionary 'fascism'.”|
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|“The shift from fuel and pistons to batteries and electric motors is unlikely to take that long.”|
|“This 160-step biochemical process is very well studied, and surprisingly inefficient.”|