Space flight has long been slowed by one hurdle in particular: cost. Transporting anything beyond our atmosphere is expensive and often dangerous. But Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aircraft designer Burt Rutan, of Xprize fame, may have a solution just around the corner. After years of development, their Stratolaunch airplane is set to make its maiden test flight as early as next month. Comprised of two 747 airframes side-by-side, the catamaran-esque craft features the longest wingspan of any plane ever built at 385 feet. The idea behind the Stratolaunch is to lift rockets (and eventually Space Shuttle-style reusable aircraft) high into the air before sending them into space. If successful, the plane could drastically reduce the price companies and governments alike pay to launch satellites and people into orbit.
Communicating from underwater can be a difficult endeavor. If a submarine, which sends messages via water-based sonar, wants to contact a plane, which uses radio signals, it has to surface - thereby revealing its location. That could all be about to change, however, with the news this week that MIT researchers have discovered a new high-frequency radar that can detect tiny ripples in the water created by a speaker. The revelation opens up all sorts of water-based communication possibilities. In future, black box flight recorders could communicate directly with search aircraft, for example, and underwater drones could transmit data to research vessels above.
The world’s entrepreneurs got some good news this week with the announcement that investment firm Sequoia was opening a fund worth a whopping $695 million in India and Southeast Asia. The move is part of Sequoia’s plans to “unleash the potential of the region” by growing startups in the healthcare, technology and consumer sectors. “As we look to the future, the menu of investment opportunities is unprecedented,” the firm said in a statement. India and Southeast Asia already account for 20-30 percent of Sequoia’s portfolio, and as one of the fastest growing regions on the planet, you can be sure that figure will rise after an investment like this.
Gamescom, Europe’s largest video game convention, kicked off this week in Cologne, Germany. More than 1,000 exhibitors from 50 countries will show off their wares to an expected 500,000 attendees. Chipmaker Nvidea unveiled its new graphics innovations, while major video game producers such as Ubisoft and Koch Media have announced their latest titles. With most people gaming on mobile devices these days, there is a special focus on smartphone-based video games and the in-game financial potential they carry. Gamescom will also give fans a chance to see their favorite pro gamers and livestreamers in person - and even play alongside them. If you want to see what the future looks like in this ever-growing industry, there is no better place to be.
It is no secret that highly processed foods are often unhealthy, and sugar is a big part of the reason why. What if you could drastically reduce the presence of that pesky, though tasty, ingredient, but not sacrifice on flavor? That is the idea behind Israeli startup DouxMatok, which this week announced a partnership with Germany’s Südzucker, the leading sugar firm in Europe. The deal will see DouxMatok develop “targeted flavor delivery technology” it says can cut sugar content in food by up to 40 percent without a discernible effect on taste. It does it by coating sugar minerals in a way that puts them directly on your taste buds rather than going to your stomach. As people around the world, and Europe in particular, seek to lead a healthier lifestyle, technology like DouxMatok’s will certainly be in demand.