Technology Tuesday: July 17th

Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: Israel is set to become the 4th nation to land on the moon, the FDA approves a drug to protect against pandemics, an amazing new way to scan 3D images of the human body, a functional invisibility cloak, and getting over your fear of heights in VR.


A PRIVATE COMPANY IS PLANNING TO MAKE ISRAEL THE 4TH NATION TO HAVE EVER REACHED THE MOON

AN OFF-WORLD FIRST. Only three nations have ever landed on the Moon — the U.S., China, and Russia. But a fourth is just about ready to join the list: Israel.

Since it was founded in 2011, Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL has had one goal: land an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon. During a press conference on Tuesday, SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby told reporters his company had finally set February 13, 2019 as the date for its Moon landing.

According to a SpaceIL news release, the Moon probe will lift off from Cape Canaveral sometime in December, hitching a ride aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. If all goes as planned, it will be the first privately-funded craft to reach the Moon. It’ll also be the smallest, weighing in at just 1,322 pounds.

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FDA JUST APPROVED A DRUG TO MAKE US A LITTLE SAFER FROM PANDEMICS

Fear of another smallpox pandemic keep you up at night? You’ll be happy to hear the FDA approved tecovirimat (Tpoxx) on Friday. It’s the first drug designed to treat the infectious disease, which kills about 30 percent of the people who contract it.

Though not tested directly against smallpox in humans, in trials, the smallpox treatment did increase the survival rate of primates and rabbits injected with two similar diseases (monkeypox and rabbitpox, respectively). And the drug produced only minor side effects when evaluated on 359 healthy human volunteers.

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MIND-BLOWING IMAGES OF THE HUMAN BODY MADE BY NEW TYPE OF SCANNER

Phil and Anthony Butler aren’t just father and son. The physics professor and bioengineering professor (respectively) are also business partners. And this week, their company, MARS Bioimaging, unveiled a first-of-its-kind x-ray scanner 10 years in the making.

First, a quick recap of how x-ray imaging works. When x-rays travel through your body, they’re absorbed by denser materials (bones) and pass right through softer ones (muscles and other tissues). The x-rays that pass through unimpeded hit a film on the opposite side of your body. These show up as areas of solid black. The places where the x-rays couldn’t pass through appear solid white.

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A NEW CLOAKING APPROACH COULD MAKE OBJECTS INVISIBLE FROM EVERY ANGLE

Researchers from Montreal’s National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS) just published a study in Optica detailing a new approach to invisibility cloaking. Their device, called a spectral invisibility cloak, is the first to manipulate the color (or frequency) of the light waves that interact with an object, rendering it invisible.

“Our work represents a breakthrough in the quest for invisibility cloaking,” study author José Azaña said in a news release.

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VR TREATMENTS CAN HELP YOU WITH YOUR FEAR OF HEIGHTS, EVEN WITHOUT A THERAPIST

Afraid of heights? You’re not alone. In fact, acrophobia is one of the most common fears in the world. Now, a team of European researchers has found a new way to help people overcome their fear, no need to climb on any ledges or even talk to a therapist.

The researchers enlisted 100 volunteers for their study, all of whom had a clinically diagnosed fear of heights but were not receiving treatment for their phobia. The researchers then split the volunteers into two groups. Fifty-one volunteers served as the control, undergoing no treatment, while the other 49 had the opportunity to undergo a two-week-long virtual reality (VR) treatment regimen (47 agreed to the program, and 44 completed it).  The researchers published the results of their trial in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry on Wednesday.

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