Who does want to go to space? No less, in an elevator. While NASA's been working hard for years trying to find the necessary tools to do just that, other firms are doing the same across different parts of the world. Japanese construction company Obayashi, for instance, is one of those, and today it revealed its plans to have a fully functional space elevator by the year 2050. As Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports, Obayashi says it is working to build a space elevator that can reach 96,000 kilometers (roughly 60,000 miles) into space, capable of transporting people and cargo at a much lower cost than the rockets traditionally launched from Earth. The trip on Obayashi's space elevator is said to take a total of seven days one-way, with the destination being a space station that would be built specifically for this scenario.

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Whenever NASA achieves something, row after row of neatly-dressed mission controllers all begin whooping and clapping. The reason for today's jubilation is the news that, after nearly a year, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe has successfully entered orbit around the red planet. MAVEN began its tour of duty at 10:24pm EDT Sunday night, and after a six-week test phase, will analyze the upper atmosphere of Mars in an attempt to understand how its climate has influenced the surface below. In addition, the information will help other white shirt-and-pocket-protector-wearing analysts to determine if, when, and how best to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. You never know, maybe MAVEN will be able to find some Methane in the atmosphere and make David Bowie very happy.

[Image Credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center]

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One small piece of Dirk Loechel's spaceship comparison chart

If you regularly follow geek culture, you've probably seen early versions of Dirk Loechel's spaceship comparison chart, which shows the relative sizes of vehicles from science fiction games, movies and TV shows. Well, it's finished -- and it's even more authoritative than the last time around. Get the full-size version and you'll see Babylon 5's Vorlon Planet Killer, Mass Effect's Normandy and seemingly everything in between. The chart even includes a real vessel, the International Space Station -- at 328 feet long, it seems downright puny next to its make-believe counterparts. Some story franchises have better representation than others (EVE is full of colossal ships), and you won't see moon-sized spacecraft like Star Wars' Death Star, but it's otherwise hard to imagine a more complete view of sci-fi transportation.

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Gravity. More than the name of a killer movie, it's likely something we take for granted every single day. After all, nearly everything we do is reliant on the idea that stuff stays in place when we stop holding it. Astronauts don't have that luxury, however, and when even simple tasks take a ton of effort, something relatively complex like using a 3D printer is even harder. Why would astronauts need one of those? Well, because stuff breaks in space, and replacing a busted part isn't as simple as hitting Home Depot -- just ask the crew of Apollo 13. To help get around that, the folks at Made in Space have designed a 3D printer that circumvents the lack of Earth's gravity when used in orbit. Instead of molten filament essentially "stacking" on itself to form an object like it does planetside, according to The Verge, the Zero-G Printer liquid's surface-tension holds a widget together.

Update: No launch tonight! Weather conditions forced a postponement. According to NASA, the next launch window is tomorrow night, on the 21st at about 1:52 AM ET.

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We know. It's only September, but it's never too early to start dreaming of that greatest of all gadget gatherings, the International CES. As always, the Engadget editorial team will descend upon the Las Vegas Convention Center this January to bring you all the action as the Official Blog and Online News Source of the show. And, just like last year, we're also choosing the Best of CES awards! As we comb the floor of the world's largest consumer tech trade show, we'll be looking for truly stand-out products worthy of becoming 2015's Best of CES -- but that doesn't mean we're waiting until we touch down in the desert to begin our search. We're accepting nominations starting November 1st, when we'll dish out all the info you need to know to put your device in the running.

[Image Credit: Samaruddin Stewart, AOL]

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We've seen MIT's super-fast four-legged Cheetah bot sprint on a treadmill many times, but it seems that the team at MIT is finally ready to let the thing outside. Now, quadrupedal bots traversing hill and dale are nothing new, but the Cheetah's doing so using a new algorithm and without the benefit of an internal combustion engine or hydraulics. That algorithm determines the amount of force the bot's custom high-torque electrical motors deliver, which in turn controls how fast the robot runs and how high it leaps. Using this force-based approach, the Cheetah is more stable and agile, according to the boffins at MIT, and it can maintain its balance as the speed of its gait increases. Not to mention that the electric motors are quiet, so instead of an exhaust note, you only hear the pitter-patter of robot feet. This all adds up to a robot that can silently bound across uneven ground and even jump over obstacles. It's not as fast as its furry namesake... yet, but you can hear from its creators and see its bounding baby steps in the video after the break.

[Image Credit: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT]

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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Mass spectrometry. What's it good for anyway? Analyzing substances to figure out just what they are, that's what. The inherent problem with the process, though, is that it's basically impossible to do outside of a dedicated lab. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (more commonly known as MIT) think they have a solution to that problem: shrinking the necessary testing components down to nanoscale-sized versions, which would allow analyses to be performed with a tool the size of a smartphone. They'd be a lot cheaper too, dropping the price from "tens of thousands of dollars" down to "hundreds" according to MIT News. Ideally, this would make vaporizing (!) samples a ton faster without crime scene investigators, among others, sacrificing the analysis' quality for convenience -- as if criminals needed more worries about covering their tracks.

[Image credit: Getty]

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Ready to feel small? Our sun is just one of 300 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, which itself is one of many, many other galaxies -- but at least we now know where it is. Astronomers have mapped a "supercluster" of galaxies including the Milky Way and dubbed it Laniakea, or "immeasurable heaven" in Hawaiian. Using several radio telescopes, the team calculated the movement of nearby galaxies relative to each other, after taking into account cosmic expansion. They chose the supercluster boundary based on that motion, since galaxies tend to flow along the same paths toward common gravitational wells. Lanaikea was defined based on its flow toward the "Great Attractor," along with another supercluster called Perseus-Pisces. As shown in the stunning video below, our own insignificant galaxy is on a prominent flow path in Laniakea, right at the edge of a massive void.

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Though the effectiveness of quantum computing is highly disputed right now, that hasn't deterred Google from throwing more money at it. Mountain View just announced that it's backing another effort to build a new breed of quantum processors with scientists from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). Google is already a partner at NASA's Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (QUAIL), and invested some $15 million in a D-Wave quantum computer for the project. However, a study done on a D-Wave's computer has cast doubt on the efficacy of the machine, a claim that was refuted by D-Wave as "bullshit." Intriguingly, several researchers involved in that study were also from UCSB -- like John Martinis, who has worked on quantum computing for nearly 30 years.

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By definition, the Internet of Things (IoT) should connect with anything -- even writhing, kinda gross, but often delicious eels. SK Telecom's latest project is aimed at showcasing its IoT skills with a pilot connected eel farm that uses a network of sensors to monitor thousands of eels, mostly autonomously. Sensors dotted across multiple 20-foot-wide tanks check on water temperature, pH and oxygen levels, Data is then collated and analyzed by the Korean carrier's cloud system, and bounced to a simplified smartphone app -- all in pretty much real time. "Why?" is a good question, but there's a good answer too: apparently minute changes in those factors above can be fatal to young eels. Before, this meant regular tank checks by workers every two-to-six hours. Now, it's mostly automated and sudden changes will even ping a warning to eel farmers' smartphones when needed. SK Telecom is planning to roll out the system commercially next year -- who knew eel farming was big business?

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NASA's ironman Mars rover Opportunity, like your five-year-old PC, is about to get reformatted. Problems have been causing the aging vehicle to reboot and scientists suspect that worn-out cells in the flash memory are to blame. Opportunity's been running for 10 years despite an expected mission life of three months, so even having such problems is a bonus -- and its now-defunct twin, Spirit, had a similar procedure in 2009. Scientists will back up the rover's memory, then send a format command to prevent the bad cells from being accessed. They'll use a slower-than-normal data rate to reinstall the software, since Mars is currently 212 million miles away and the signal will take 11.2 minutes just to reach it. NASA said that Martian winds have kept the rover's solar panels surprisingly clean since it hit the ground rolling in 2004 (see the video below). As the picture above from August 10th shows, it's still doing science and exploration like a boss.

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If WiFi can track a heartbeat through walls, why can't I get internet in my corner bathroom? Jason Cole was trying to figure that out too, but unlike me, he's a PhD student in physics. So he mapped his own apartment and assigned refraction values to the walls (shown above), then applied so-called Helmholtz equations to model the electromagnetic waves. As detailed in his (math-drenched) blog, the best spot for his router was where you'd expect: directly in the center. Since that was out of the question, he was still able to get "tendrils" of internet by placing it in the corner of the apartment. His experiment implies that even in a distant room you could eke some connectivity by judiciously shifting around your laptop. Some commenters want him to turn his equations into a WiFi mapping web service -- unfortunately, he thinks the idea is "unfeasible" due to the processing time and assumptions made.

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We've heard music made from bats' echolocation signals and the sounds of glaciers before, but what about tunes composed with something a little more, say, industrial? And no, we aren't talking about Nine Inch Nails' classic The Downward Spiral. Think more along the lines of a song comprised of sounds from pneumatic equipment and welders and you're most of the way there. As spotted by Laughing Squid, musician Matthew Dear partnered with GE and recorded the acoustics used to diagnose the performance of turbines and jet engines, among other things, and the result is a dance-ready electronic track dubbed "Drop Science." Sure, artists including Amon Tobin have done similar sorts of things before, but not at such a grand scale. Curious to hear what it sounds like when thousands of machines are humming at peak performance? Check out the video and audio embedded below.

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Pizza is essentially the perfect food. Well, so long as you aren't lactose intolerant or have problems with gluten. We realize that those are pretty big caveats, but stay with us for a second -- it'll be worth it: NPR spotted a study of why different cheeses diverge in looks and taste when baked. Seriously. In a paper called "Quantification of Pizza Baking Properties of Different Cheeses, and Their Correlation with Cheese Functionality," researchers found that, among other things, the reason why mozzarella is so unique of a topping has to do with the way it's prepared. The cheese bubbles and browns because of its inherent elasticity due to stretching. In contrast, cheddar isn't as ideal because it isn't very elastic, thus it doesn't bubble as well. The same apparently goes for Edam and Gruyere, too.

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