The New Search for E.T.

If extraterrestrials are trying to communicate with us, they’re probably using lasers, not radio waves

11 min read
The new telescope at Oak Ridge Observatory, in Harvard, Mass.

Night Watch: The new telescope at Oak Ridge Observatory, in Harvard, Mass., waits patiently for nanosecond light pulses that a distant civilization might be sending our way.

Photo: Bob O’Connor

It doesn’t look like much: just a clapboard shed in a clearing, surrounded by tall pines. No plaque or other marking announces what goes on here. Inside stands a 4-meter-tall black metal frame covered in Mylar, looking sort of like a giant’s box kite ­waiting for a stiff breeze. Beneath the shroud of plastic are a largish mirrored disk, a second smaller mirror, and some cables and electronics.

Suddenly, the roof begins to glide backward on steel tracks, revealing the night sky overhead. Even as the contraption tilts slowly into place, its exact angle controlled by a computer in the next room, the true purpose of this unassuming apparatus might be unclear to the casual observer. But it constitutes the most sophisticated implementation of a concept that a few technologists, including me, have been pushing for more than four decades—a telescope dedicated to answering an age-old question: Is anybody out there?

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Meet the Open Source PC That Fits in Your Pocket

The MNT Pocket Reform is a seven-inch clamshell with a real keyboard

3 min read
A purple laptop on a desk

The MNT Pocket Reform is an open source computer with a seven-inch display.

MNT Research

Open source computing is coming to your pocket.

MNT Research, creator of the Reform open-source laptop and ZZ9000 add-in board for Amiga computers, is going small for its next project. The MNT Pocket Reform has a seven-inch screen with a clamshell design that, when closed, will be less than five centimeters thick. If its perky purple facade looks a bit retro, that’s no surprise; the Pocket’s inspirations read like a ‘greatest hits’ list of pocketable computers.

“We had a moodboard with several classic handheld computers: Nokia N900, Atari Portfolio, Cambridge Z88, Blackberry, Game Boy Advance SP, Alan Kay's Dynabook,” says Lukas F. Hartmann, CEO and founder of MNT Research. “I have a Psion 5mx, which was kind of a benchmark for the keyboard.”

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iRobot Crams Mop and Vacuum Into Newest Roomba

The Roomba Combo j7+ handles both hard flooring and carpet in a clever, non-messy way

9 min read
A round black robot vacuum with a mopping pad that can move from below the robot to above the robot and out of the way

Not a spoiler.

iRobot

Robots tend to do best when you optimize them for one single, specific task. This is especially true for home robots, which need to be low cost(ish) as well as robust enough to be effective in whatever home they find themselves in. iRobot has had this formula pretty well nailed down with its family of vacuuming robots for nearly two decades, but they’ve also had another family of floor care robots that have been somewhat neglected recently: mopping robots.

Today, iRobot is announcing the US $1,100 Roomba Combo j7+, which stuffs both a dry vacuum and a wet mop into the body of a Roomba j7. While very much not the first or only combo floor-cleaning robot on the market, the Combo j7+ uses a unique and very satisfying mechanical system to make sure that your carpets stay clean and dry while giving your hard floors the moist buffing that they so desperately need.

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Take the Lead on Satellite Design Using Digital Engineering

Learn how to accelerate your satellite design process and reduce risk and costs with model-based engineering methods

1 min read
Keysight
Keysight

Win the race to design and deploy satellite technologies and systems. Learn how new digital engineering techniques can accelerate development and reduce your risk and costs. Download this free whitepaper now!

Our white paper covers:

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