The great monkey takeover

Now our first thought in Weekender Spaceport was that scientists were, well, taking the pee, when we heard this.

Apparently scientists have discovered a bacterium that transforms ammonium into hydrazine.

Ammonium of course is one of the main ingredients in what Aussies call ‘the amber nectar’ (not the kind that comes in cans, but it tastes roughly the same). And hydrazine, as we all know, is a kind of rocket fuel.

These little critters (bugs, not Aussies) were discovered by researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen. At the moment, the quantities of hydrazine ain’t quite enough to get to the end of the street, let alone penetrate the rings of Uranus, but NASA is interested in any case. Anammox is used commercially in purifying water and could also be useful in cleaning up sewage because it requires no oxygen and therefore could provide methane as a biofuel. On the other hand they could just be talking out of their, um, noses.

Researchers in Cyprus, meanwhile, have invented a concentrated solar power desalination plant which can use solar energy to provide both electricity and five million litres of fresh water per day. Apparently it really is all done with mirrors, which focus sunlight onto a central receiver, which stores energy as thermal energy. This then transforms water into steam and produces electricity by running through steam turbines. Any excess energy is used to desalinate water by evaporation. Now if only we could think of a Caribbean island that needs this kind of technology we’d be happy. Ah well, back to the wee-wee.

This is going to end well

And while humans are messing about with effluent-powered useless-rockets to go and explore other planets and stuff, back here on the one nobody understands there are monkeys taking over.

Not content with mastering meditation and writing the works of Shakespeare, monkeys can now operate virtual arms using their minds alone.

Two rhesus monkeys at the Duke Universty Center for Neuroengineering in Durham, North Carolina, learned to direct virtual hands on a computer screen without moving their bodies. The hands explored three different virtual objects, all of which had a different texture, signals of which were sent back to the monkeys’ brains by electrical signals. This report was written by Bubbles. All hail your new monkey overlords!

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