For years teams have been using exotics like carbon nanotubes in their hunt for the right materials to make artificial muscles. It turns out a much better solution exists in your house and you can make your own - via Quirks and Quarks (8m mp3). I hope body modification for athletes isn't in the cards down the road...
There is a cultural phenomenon playing out at the moment where people around the world - typically teenage girls, sing to a karaoke version of Let it Go from Disney's movie Frozen and post a video to Youtube. One of the more impressive versions is from Olivia, a third year classics study at Oxford. She notes she's a poor singer (true - she offers a performance), but she has done an impressive translation of the lyrics into classic Latin with a detailed explanation of every line. I've sent this to a couple of trained voices hoping they give it a try:-)
(hat tip to Loren)
Lyrics [reference in square brackets]:
summi montis solitudine, nullas voces audio [Catullus] patria sepulta dominari videor [Cicero] venti furentes meo erumpunt animo [Tacitus] sortis contra vim nihil valeo
comprimere, recondere maioribus semper digna esse fieri populo odio non paveo [Tiberius (emperor)]
fugio, fugio, nihil iam dissimulo [Tacitus] pectora resero, at dolores exclaudo [Lucretius] oderint quin capiant [Accius] tenet tempestas animi requiem meritam [Tacitus]
modis levat miris absentia curas [Lucretius] et a metu pertinaci me tandem liberat [Claudius (emperor)]
nunc ostendam placida maiestatem ingenitam [Tacitus] depono tandem vincula rupta
supera salio ut caelo despiciam [Lucretius] posteram renuo immota gloriam [Tacitus] haec constat sententia tenet tempestas
nivis imperium tendo terras in omnes anima frigido aere frangitur in glaciem mens reclusa spirat auras lucidas [Tacitus] inania somnia deurit veritas
Airships would make a very useful platform for types of scientific observation - a fascinating report from two workshops (pdf) at the Keck Institute last year.
From the summary:
The Airships: A New Horizon for Science study at the Keck Institute for Space Studies investigated the potential of a variety of airships currently operable or under development to serve as observatories and science instrumentation platforms for a range of space, atmospheric and Earth science. The participants represent a diverse cross-section of the aerospace sector, NASA, and academia. They are leaders in their respective fields who have built or are building high altitude airships, or are Earth, atmospheric, planetary, or astrophysics scientists interested in exploiting airship platforms.
Over the last two decades, there has been wide interest in developing a high altitude, stratospheric lighter-than-air (LTA) airship that could maneuver and remain in a desired geographic position (i.e., "station-keeping") for weeks, months or even years. Such a stratospheric airship would offer the military surveillance capabilities over large areas. This platform would also provide telecommunication companies a means of providing commercial communication and data services to consumers in remote areas. While stratospheric airships remain a promise rather than a reality today, seeing through the final stages of development of such vehicles operating in the relatively light winds present in the lower stratosphere at altitudes around 65 kft (20 km), would enable unique data collection opportunities for Earth and atmospheric scientists. They would be a game- changer for space scientists since their costs as a platform would be substantially lower than satellite missions.
The original goals of the study were to:
1) Inform scientists of the capabilities of airship vehicles as instrumental platforms, as well as discuss how this technology could be expanded and improved to better accommodate science instrumentation requirements.
2) Identify science observational/experimental projects that are uniquely addressed by airship vehicles, as well as science which can be supported by airships at a significantly lower cost than other platforms (i.e., satellites).
3) Construct science concepts for viable airship platforms.
Our study found considerable scientific value in both low altitude (< 40 kft) and high altitude (> 60 kft) airships across a wide spectrum of space, atmospheric, and Earth science programs. An airship provides persistent, high-resolution measurements that fill an observational scale gap in Earth and atmospheric science between "anecdotal" ground-based or aircraft measurements and coarse-resolution satellite measurements. In addition, in situ and remote sensing views of our dynamic and evolving atmosphere, Earth ecosystems, coastal processes, atmospheric plume chemistry, extreme weather, upper troposphere and lower stratosphere processes like convection and exchange across the tropopause could all be made possible using airships. Airships also open up the parameter space of long-duration, high spatio-temporal resolution observations of "Urban Dome" air quality associated with large cities. For instance in astrophysics, a 1-2 meter optical telescope placed at about 65 kft with state-of-the-art pointing stability would have superior resolving power to any optical ground-based telescope, providing exceptional image quality night after night above the weather.
While free-flying stratospheric balloons enable a wide range of observations, they do not satisfy the station-keeping needs of some applications, nor the long duration, global access needs of others. Over the course of the study period, we identified stratospheric tethered aerostats as a viable alternative to airships where station-keeping was valued over maneuverability.
By opening up the sky and Earth's stratospheric horizon in affordable ways with long-term flexibility, airships allow us to push technology and science forward in a project-rich environment that complements existing space observatories as well as aircraft and high-altitude balloon missions. Science, rather than war, could be the ultimate motivator to push industry toward final development of stratospheric airships, which will provide a unique platform for monitoring our most precious resource, the Earth, and for seeking out the new cosmic horizons toward the edge of our observable universe.