Science and technology latest: Ships, smartphones, and lunar eclipses

A new class of technology includes the Zumwalt class destroyer DDG 1000. (Credit: U.S. Navy)

A new class of technology includes the Zumwalt class destroyer DDG 1000. (Credit: U.S. Navy)

This week in trending news, science and technology have been making headlines on topics from the lunar eclipse and this year’s blood moon frequency, plans by NASA and Lockheed to launch a robotic spacecraft in 2016, the Navy’s christening of the USS Zumwalt, rumors of an Amazon smartphone and sneak peeks at the iPhone 6 and iOS 8. Not to mention that Google Glass is going to be shipping to a wider customer base. If you’re looking for a good research paper topic in science and technology, check out some of these recent advances hitting the news.

USS Zumwalt

Naval architects have described the all-electric Zumwalt class destroyer as a step into the future of fighting for the Navy. According to George V. Galdorisi, describing the ship in the summer 2010 article “THE ZUMWALT-CLASS DESTROYER: A Technology ‘Bridge’ Shaping the Navy after Next” for Naval War College Review, “Zumwalt’s advanced all-electric propulsion plant, generating seventy-eight megawatts of power, allows such weapons as high-powered lasers and electromagnetic rail guns to be used without significantly impacting the ship’s electronic surveillance and weapons control systems or speed, a critical operational factor, given the high electrical demands of these on-the-horizon weapons.”

The USS Zumwalt, first of the new Zumwalt class destroyers, was christened on Saturday, April 12, 2014. Both the class and the ship are named after late Admiral Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, who became the chief of naval operations—the youngest man to hold the title—in 1970. He was known as a reformer, challenging racism and sexism inherent in the Naval establishment.

Author Larry Berman talked to David Sharp of Christian Science Monitor, in the April 11, 2014, article “USS Zumwalt warship’s namesake fought racism, sexism,” about how Zumwalt challenged the status quo: “Zumwalt came in and smashed that entire system. … He felt it was appalling that the Navy had only three black captains.” The new ship’s crew shows Zumwalt’s impact: two of the department leaders are women, one is black, and another is of Hispanic descent.

Some other specs on the USS Zumwalt:

  • Despite being the largest destroyer built for the Navy, automated systems allow it to run at half the normal crew size.
  • It has a composite deckhouse with hidden radar and sensors.
  • Its stealthy angular shape will make it appear as a fishing boat to enemy radar.
  • The ship is 610 feet long and cost more than $3 billion.

Asteroids & the blood moon

Speaking of new ships, Lockheed Martin Corp and NASA have teamed together to design a spacecraft to take samples from an asteroid. Though the mission is scheduled to take place in 2016, in April 2014, the mission, called OSIRIS-Rex, cleared a major hurdle when it passed a technical review by an independent board, allowing engineers to get started on constructing the robotic craft. “This is a pioneering effort, both technologically and scientifically,” Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona in Tucson, the lead scientist for the review, was quoted as saying in Irene Klotz’s Reuters article “Lockheed to begin building asteroid sampler for NASA,” posted April 10, 2014.

But that’s not the only space news: April 2014 featured a total lunar eclipse overnight on April 14-15. The blood moon phenomenon, in which the moon turns red during an eclipse, is a totally normal part of the full eclipse process. An eclipse always creates a reddish shade, with variations including copper and blood red (hence the term blood moon). This was the first of four blood moons that will occur between 2014 and 2015.

Technology consumer rumors

So what about technology you can get in your dorm room?

  • Images were leaked on Chinese social media showing, supposedly, iOS 8 on the iPhone 6. Things to note? It’s five icons across instead of 4 (like iOS 7), and it features an icon for “Watch Utility,” presumably a tie-in with the iWatch.
  • Amazon is entering the smartphone game with an as yet unnamed Amazon smartphone that promises a holographic, 3D (sans glasses) display.
  • Speaking of glasses, Google Glass opened sales for U.S. residents at 9 a.m. on April 15, 2014, no special access required—just the $1500 on the price tag.
  • If you’re a Dropbox user, you may (or may not) care about the Internet outcry at Condoleezza Rice being named to the board of directors. Critics say that due to Rice’s support for the NSA’s wiretapping during the Bush administration, she’s a poor fit for the cloud storage service.

What technology trends are you most excited about? Do you plan to drop Dropbox, and did you stay up for the eclipse? Tell us in the comments. 

For more on astronomy, naval history and sea power, visit Questia.

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