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Did I hear my robot say, 'Yes, I can NASA that!'?
A new type of search engine is in the making! ...not Google's, but rather NASA's, and not for humans but instead for our soon-to-evolve robots and special smart devices.
What is a 'collaborative search engine'?
In short it is a search engine that by today's standards is incomplete; not because a database is missing or broken links beyond repair, but because its primary source of information does not yet exist and is essentially pending discovery. Let me explain. While Google has become the central source for all known data, (good, bad, and even ugly), NASA is emerging with an alternative search engine concept altogether. Instead of 'crawling' throughout the web to organize existing data the way Google algorithms do, NASA is organizing groups of talented individuals all over the world through virtual 'Challenges' to help it address a daunting list of unsolved problems whose collective contributions may one day make space travel as much of a business reality as airlines are today. Their global efforts will soon be centralized into a massive collection of ideas that will be in one way or another associated with NASA's existing space data.
NASA’s Space Apps Challenges
These Space Apps Challenges (https://2014.spaceappschallenge.org), as they are called, are huge. Last year's two-day global event, for example, broke the Guinness Book of World records for the largest ever ‘Hackathon’-
This year one of their city events was held at AlleyNYC (http://www.alleynyc.com) near Times Square located in the heart of New York City where a packed house of eager space aficionados of all ages, all walks of life, and every professional talent imaginable converged to inspire and get inspired. In a business-like manner, NASA's Deputy CIO and CTO, Deborah Diaz (http://www.nasa.gov/
NASA’s Challenges in Space
To help participants place space challenges into perspective, American test pilot mission specialist astronaut, Doug Wheelock (http://en.wikipedia.org/
Medical issues in space are another of NASA's imperatives. Wheelock described issues with atrophy in the leg muscles, blurred vision, depression, and even loss of taste, all due to exposure to zero-gravity. Taken for granted on earth, gravity gives our legs purpose, our sight a level horizon to distinguish moving objects, our potential mood swings a sense of equilibrium, and even our mouth active taste buds. Our brains are wired to calibrate our bodily functions based on gravity levels. In a zero-gravity environment, for example, our legs become, essentially useless. In a defensive move, the brain will push blood away from the legs to the brain to allow for recalibration in a gravity-changed environment. Space station astronauts have learned to counter some of these physical anomalies by exercising their legs regularly with bungee cords, for example, but look to other sources for future discoveries and ideas on preventing potential blindness and automating cures for other unexpected and yet-to-be-encountered physical and psychological disorders and ailments.
Challenges in Space Travel
Then, there was the question about space travel; a question that just about any individual young or old would want to ask an astronaut. What is it really like lifting off from earth in the Space Shuttle, living at the International Space Station for months at a time, and taking a space walk? Here Wheelock did not disappoint.
In a candid and unreserved manner, Wheelock described the distinct noises he would hear while walking underneath the space shuttle prior to a launch.
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