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Living in the Future: Thorium Reactors, Muscular Robots, and Moon Crashings

The country of Norway has elected to replace old second-gen nuclear reactors with a thorium fuel supply. Unlike traditional Uranium reactors, Thorium cannot be used to produce plutonium, and is more commonly found in the Earth’s crust. It’s been used before, but because it doesn’t make plutonium, it was dismissed during the arms race of the Cold War. Now, it may provide a way to bridge the gap between 2nd and 3rd Gen Uranium reactors and 4th Gen reactors that are currently being designed, and reduce the risk of nuclear profliferation.

The University of Tokyo has built a robot that mimics human musculature and skeletal structure. It doesn’t yet have the speed or flexibility of a true human being, but it marks the first time than an artificial skeletomuscular system has been created that works as in a human body. The robot is planned for use in safety testing and biomedical/biomechanical research, to learn more about why our bodies work the way they do.

NASA has had two satellites orbiting the moon, designed to test its gravitational field. They’ve now completed their work, and the agency worried that they might crash into historical sites on the moon. So, they decided to crash the satellites themselves – at more than 4000 MPH – into the side of a Lunar Mountain. In addition to giving more information to what the mountain is made of, the crash should help scientists determine how accurate the fuel readings are in satellites like these.