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Flying car now closer to reality

The dream of owning a flying car has moved a step closer to reality - thanks to an ambitious engineering company based in Woburn,Massachusetts.

Terrafugia has released images of its next-generation flying car, the TF-X.

Capable of taking off vertically and flying completely on its own, this street-legal flying car won’t require a pilot’s license to operate, the New York Daily News reported. With a flying range of 500 miles, once airborne, the two propellors fold back and propulsion is handled by an engine mounted behind the cockpit.

Everything from take-off, to flying, and eventual touch-down at your chosen destination will be handled automatically by the Terrafugia (pronounced: Terra-foo-gee-ah) TF-X flying car.

Terrafugia says the TF-X is a plug-in hybrid. Electric motors handle road driving, and assist during takeoff and landing.

 The company claims that its road-legal and highly automated flying car could be on the road (and in the air) within 8-12 years.

The TF-X’s vast array of sensors and GPS monitors make flying to a destination as simple as punching in an address in today’s satellite-navigation devices.

Experts assess how to avoid asteroid hits in future

Experts have assessed what needs to be done when an asteroid approaches earth, like the one in February, when one slammed into our atmosphere and exploded high over Russia’s Ural region, injuring hundreds.

Of the more than 600,000 known asteroids in our Solar System, almost 10,000 are classified as near-Earth objects, or NEOs, because their orbits bring them relatively close to Earth’s path.

Dramatic proof that any of these can strike Earth came on 15 February, when an unknown object thought to be 17–20 m in diameter arrived at 66,000 km/h and exploded high above Chelyabinsk, Russia, with 20–30 times the energy of theHiroshima atomic bomb.

The resulting shock wave caused widespread damage and injuries, making it the largest known natural object to have entered the atmosphere since the 1908 Tunguska event, which destroyed a remote forest area of Siberia.

“It’s important that we become aware of the current and future position of NEOs, develop estimates on the likelihood of impacts and assess the possible consequences,” Detlef Koschny, Head of NEO activities in the Agency’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Programme Office said.  “More importantly, we must consider whether and how warning, mitigation and possible deflection actions can be taken. It’s important not only for Europe, but for the rest of the planet, too,” Koschny said.

One aspect of ESA’s four-year-old effort requires the development of an integrated system to scan the sky nightly for as-yet-undiscovered NEOs. Another important element is studying how mitigation measures can be applied in the case of smaller NEOs, and how to deflect any larger ones that may seriously threaten our home planet.  This week, Deimos Space, an industrial partner working for ESA on SSA, has invited top researchers from universities, research institutes, national space agencies and industry in Europe and the USA to discuss the state of the art in NEO impact effects and threat mitigation.

Ultimately, ESA aims to develop the capability to integrate European current and new assets such as automated telescopes into a coordinated and more efficient NEO system that can provide nightly sky surveys and advanced warning.

Sleep problems may up prostate cancer risk

Men who have sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, have up to a twofold increased risk for prostate cancer, a new study has warned.

“Sleep problems are very common in modern society and can have adverse health consequences,” Lara G. Sigurdardottir, M.D., at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik said.
“Women with sleep disruption have consistently been reported to be at an increased risk for breast cancer, but less is known about the potential role of sleep problems in prostate cancer,” she said.

Previous studies have generated conflicting results for an association between sleep disruption from working night shifts and the risk for prostate cancer. Sigurdardottir and her colleagues, therefore, investigated the role of sleep in influencing prostate cancer risk.

The researchers followed 2,102 men from the prospective Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik study, which involved an established, population-based cohort of 2,425 men aged 67 to 96.

Upon enrollment into the study, the participants answered four questions about sleep disruption: whether they took medications to sleep, had trouble falling asleep, woke up during nights with difficulty going back to sleep or woke up early in the morning with difficulty going back to sleep.

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