This undated image provided by Amazon shows an Amazon Go store in Seattle. More than a year after it introduced the concept, Amazon is opening its artificial intelligence-powered Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. (Image Credit: Amazon via AP)

Amazon Opens AI-Run Store

Amazon is opening an artificial intelligence-powered Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle, one year after making the initial announcement. The store is located on the bottom floor of Amazon’s headquarters in the city. Shoppers will be able to scan their smartphone with the Amazon Go app at a turnstile, select the items they want, and leave. Amazon can tell what people have purchased and charged on their accounts by combining computer vision, machine learning algorithms, and sensors.

The system is so accurate it can even tell when someone puts an item back, for which they won’t be charged. Amazon says people will still be inside the store performing tasks like preparing food, stocking shelves, and assisting customers. The location is about 1800 square feet and adds to Amazon’s growing physical store presence and expansion into retail after purchasing Whole Foods in 2017. The store will offer premade meals, snacks, and groceries like bread, dairy, and candy products.

(Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/Ed Whitman)

NASA Preps Solar Probe

NASA is preparing its Parker Solar Probe for the harsh conditions it will endure on its journey through space, including near-vacuum conditions, along with extreme hot and cold temperatures. The spacecraft will remain in a 40-foot tall thermal vacuum chamber for about seven weeks and reemerge in mid-March for final tests, before being transported to Florida. The probe’s launch is scheduled for July 2018 aboard a Delta IV heavy launch vehicle

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission will significantly improve our understanding of the Sun, whose changing conditions can propagate out into our solar system, affecting Earth and other planets. The Parker Solar Probe will travel through the Sun’s atmosphere and get closer to the surface than any other spacecraft before it. The spacecraft will endure deadly heat and radiation, but will ultimately provide the closest-ever observations of a star.

This photo provided by the Dan Smalley Lab at Brigham Young University in January 2018 shows a projected image of researcher Erich Nygaard in Provo, Utah. Scientists have figured out how to manipulate tiny nearly unseen specks in the air and use them to produce images more realistic than most holograms, according to a study published on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2018, in the journal Nature. (Image Credit: Dan Smalley Lab, Brigham Young University via AP)

Researchers Create 3-D Images Out Of Thin Air

Scientists discovered how to manipulate nearly unseen specks in the air to create 3-D images that are more realistic and clearer than holograms. According to lead researchers, they describe the new technology as “printing something in space, just erasing it very quickly.” Researchers used this process to create a small butterfly appearing to dance above a finger and image of a graduate student impersonating Princess Leia of Star Wars (the scene when R2-D2 delivers the hologram to Luke Skywalker in Episode Four).

These tiny specks are controlled via laser light by trapping and moving these particles around potential disruptions. Rather than gravity making the particles fall and unable to sustain an image, the laser light energy changes air pressure to keep them in hovering. The projections have been tiny, but researchers hope to make them bigger with more work and multiple beams.

Jonathan Claussen and his research group are printing and processing graphene ink to make functional materials. (Image Credit: Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)

Circuits For Washable Electronics

New graphene printing technology can produce low-cost, flexible, highly conductive, and water-repellent electronic circuits. This brand of nanotechnology “would lend enormous value to self-cleaning wearable/washable electronics that are resistant to stains or ice and biofilm formation,” according to a recent paper describing the discovery. Researchers are using low-cost inkjet-printed graphene, after which they tune it with a laser to develop functional materials.

The ink comes in the form of graphene flakes, a material that’s a great conductor of electricity and heat, along with being strong, stable, and biocompatible. The printed flakes aren’t highly conductive, must be processed to remove non-conductive binders, and welded together, which boosts conductivity and makes them useful for electronics or sensors. The post-print process typically utilizes heat or chemicals, but researchers developed a rapid-pulse laser process treating graphene without damaging the printing surface (even if it’s paper).