Real-life ‘Star Trek’ medical tricoder project raises $1 million

The Scanadu Scout reads out your heart rate, temperature, blood oxygen level, respiratory rate, blood pressure, stress and electrocardiography in 10 seconds.

“Star Trek” fans may soon get a chance to have their own Dr. McCoy moment with the world’s first real-life medical tricorder, which will be available to the public soon thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $1 million for the Space Age technology.

Watch: Scanadu Scout Overview (Video)

On “Star Trek,” Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy used a medical tricorder to scan patients and immediately diagnose their ailments. While the new real-life version, called the Scanadu Scout, is missing some of the features of its science fiction counterpart — namely the ability to make internal scans and complex diagnoses — it still can be a handy device for medical checkups on the go.

Within about 10 seconds of pressing the Scanadu Scout to your forehead with thumb and forefinger, the tool reads out your heart rate, temperature, oximetry (blood oxygen level), respiratory rate, blood pressure, stress and electrocardiography (ECG).

“It’s the 21st-century version of the medical tricorder from ‘Star Trek,’” said Scanadu founder and CEO Walter de Brouwer. “Basically it has a complete emergency room in there — when you go to the emergency room and they hook you up, the same readings you get out of [the Scout]. It’s one more device out of 'Star Trek’ that will see reality.”

About a month ago, Scanadu started a crowdfunding campaign for the device on Indiegogo, hoping to raise $100,000. As of Monday (June 24), the company had raised more than $1.18 million.

Shortly before the campaign’s one-month deadline, Scanadu decided to extend it for another month. The public now has until July 20 to order a first-generation Scanadu Scout for $199, before they are out in stores.

De Brouwer founded Scanadu out of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The Scout device even uses some real-life space technology, as its operating system, the 32-bit RTOS Micrium platform, was also used in the SAM instrument on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity.

De Brouwer said his invention was inspired by “Star Trek,” and hopes over time the Scout will become more like the futuristic tool of the television series.

“If you look at the tricorder in Star Trek, it has four ideals: It is non-contact, it is non-cooperative — you may even be unconscious — it is non-sampling (doesn’t take a sample of blood) and it is non-invasive,” de Brouwer told “The technology, probably in 10 years from now, will be built into our environment, so preventive medicine will almost disappear into the walls, into the fabric of our reality.”

Early adopters of the Scanadu Scout will get to try the device out as an exploratory tool. In order to market the product as a medical device to the consumer market, the company will have to seek approval from the FDA. Scanadu plans to use experiences and data collected by its first customers to improve and understand the product in preparation for that stage.

“It’s great that you can have a customer who pays but is also a developer and thinks with you, and at the same time you make a planetary effort to make this device come out of a movie,” de Brouwer said.

Source (original):

via mothernaturenetwork


Slate “journalist” Charles Seife recently published an article posing the question ‘What Is NASA For?’ with a bold headline which states: NASA’s Mission: Its Search For Meaning Has Limited Its Science And Damaged Its Integrity.

That’s just the beginning. Seife goes on to compare the administration (and its history) to an endangered species…

“NASA is the panda of the U.S. government: a great big cuddly maladapted agency that’s beloved by almost everyone—and that is flirting with extinction…And without a central mission, without a grand goal, NASA was an agency without any real purpose, an animal without an ecological niche.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson may have to hand you your rebuttal.

Not only does this article (which prompted a hearty response from the Planetary Society’s Casey Dreier) belittle and tear apart NASA with manifest nonsense, it’s just frankly poor journalism, for back of a politer adjective.

Mr. Seife, if I were comparing NASA to a panda, I would starkly point out these important similarities, which you failed to mention during your disrespectful rant:

First, which panda are you referring to, the giant panda or red panda? Since the inflection of your references infer you probably view all pandas as black and white, let me break this down for you, with my own comparison to NASA…in black and white [sources: 1, 2, 3]:

+ Over the last 20 years, there’s been a 40% increase in the giant panda population.
Before 1990, our view of the universe came primarily from ground-based light telescopes. After its 1990 launch (and repair in 1993) the Hubble Space Telescope changed our view of the universe and continues to expand humanity’s understanding of the cosmos and our place within it, thanks to NASA astronauts who repaired, upgraded and replaced systems on the telescope between 1993 - 2009. Over the last 20 years, NASA has increased the % of our knowledge on a scale unprecedented in human history. And it should be noted that the Hubble Space Telescope has only one limit to its range: the universe itself. See Hubble Deep Field images from 1995, 1998, 2003-2004, and 2009.

+ Due to extensive logging and deforestation of their natural habitat, female pandas only have 24-72 hours to become pregnant, and their cubs are 1/900th their size, making them one of the smallest newborn mammals relative to their mother’s size.
Provided this information, Seife may attempt to convince you that this is somehow the panda’s fault. The collective panda species isn’t at fault for humankind’s destruction of its environment, and NASA is (as stated by Dreier) “not responsible for its own policy.”

The history and importance of NASA and the current state of (human and robotic) space exploration.

Seife continues…

“Factor in the danger, and human spaceflight becomes almost impossible to justify. NASA kills roughly 4 percent of the people it launches into space. It’s a very risky thing to pack enough energy into a vessel so that it can spin around the Earth at 5 miles a second. It’s just as difficult to bleed that energy off and come to rest on the ground without burning up in the process or winding up as a sizable crater. Some of the time, the process will go awry. Even if NASA’s managers, engineers, and technicians were perfectly on their game all the time, astronauts would still die—maybe just 1 percent of them rather than 4 percent, but die they will, at an alarming rate. In vain.”

You don’t get to speak for these astronauts, these human beings, these brothers and sisters of yours. However, I can boldly assure you they did not die in vein. Above: NASA’s Space Mirror Memorial.

“Columbia and its crew perished not for science—and not to fuel national ambitions or even human interest. How many post-Apollo astronauts can you name? Maybe one or two—the ones that might have piqued your interest in some way, such as Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. But generally, NASA missions were dry, uninspiring affairs with nothing to look forward to and nobody in particular to care about.”

Mr. Seife, along with being incredibly disrespectful with blatant disregard to the service men and women who knowingly put forth their efforts and their lives toward an industry unmatched in the history of history, would you say the same thing about those who rush into a burning building to save lives for a living? Human space exploration is no different.


Casey Dreier highlights Seife’s oversimplifications and misinterpretations with a few corrections which were either ignored by Seife, or to which he is ignorant of himself:

1. NASA is not some centralized, shadowy cabal
2. NASA’s Goals Are Defined By the White House and Congress, with limited input from NASA
3. NASA has clearly-defined goals for its science program
4. NASA is not just human spaceflight
5. Seife uses rhetorical tricks and cheap jabs to manipulate the reader
6. He arbitrarily dismisses robotic exploration because it doesn’t fit with his thesis

Although I could unwrap Charles Seife’s entire shortsighted barbs, I felt compelled to include his final warped robustness at conveying to us all what he’s taken upon himself to outline for NASA’s present (and future):

“NASA must adapt or die. In days gone by, it made sense to have a government agency spend untold billions to shoot people into space for God and glory. But those days have long since passed, and NASA’s continued willingness to let the costs of human spaceflight devour the money that it should be using to do what it does really well—remote science—guarantees that it is headed for extinction. Admittedly, scrapping (or at least drastically curtailing) human spaceflight would be risky. The move likely wouldn’t be popular with the public, and Congress is surprisingly stingy when it comes to funding scientific projects that don’t produce something weaponizable. But refusing to adapt to a changed environment means that NASA, like the panda, will eke out a harder and harder living as conditions continue to worsen, spending an increasing amount of its time merely trying to survive. It will just be biding its time until extinction.”

Although I’d like to think that most of us know better, the general pubic does not. Which is why we do have campaigns and organizations in support of boosting NASA funding, such as Penny4NASA and The Planetary Society.

“With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.” - Abraham Lincoln

Which begs the question: why? Why put any effort forward into such an incredibly distorted and negatively-charged tutorial of America’s space program? By my account, Seife did far more harm than good, hardly educating and paying forward what NASA indubitably provides for his daily life each time he uses his GPS, smart phone, or if he ever needs a heart transplant. The growing list of NASA-spawned benefits to the survival of our species outnumbers the fallacies in his article.

Above (main) are select images from NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and ISS missions which all have one thing in common: astronauts (human beings in space) looking back at our true spaceship - Earth. Neil deGrasse Tyson emphasizes, “there was Earth…seen not as the mapmaker would have you identify it. We went to the moon; and we discovered Earth. I claim we discovered Earth for the first time.” And indeed, Mr. Seife…beyond the litany of accomplishments and advantages NASA has either directly or indirectly provided, the most monumental aspect of space exploration we’ve gained from NASA continues to be the re-discovery of our home, our place in space, and the journey we must embark on as a spacefaring species.

Suit up.

To cleanse your mind of this, listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s keynote speech at the 28th National Space Symposium, followed by his examination of 'The 3 Fears That Drive Us To Accomplish Extraordinary Things’ via bigthink.

#WhatIsNASAFor is trending. Show your support and included with the tag, tweet, blog or post what NASA means to YOU.

What costs about the same as space exploration? Valentine’s Day.

According to the National Retail Federation, by the time the clock strikes midnight tonight, Americans will have spent a total of $17.3 billion celebrating Valentine’s Day. The most common ways to celebrate are with cards (51.2% of celebrators) and candy (48.7%), followed by flowers (37.3%), an evening out (37%), and jewelry (19%). 14% of gift-givers will give gift cards (some of which, presumably, don’t get used).

In Fiscal Year 2014, NASA’s full budget will be $17.6 billion. That’s equivalent to one Valentine’s Day plus an extra 25 minutes or so of bonus Valentine’s Day celebrating.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my lovely readers. Thanks for spreading the word about this site, and for your kind words of support and encouragement!

I noticed something. A lot of signatures, publicity, posts, and overall media covered went into the ’Build a death star’ petition. Jokingly or not, it showed me something pretty interesting. That there are more of us willing to go through signing that than the Penny4NASA petition which didn’t even reach the 25,000 signature mark. There are more of us willing to joke or even seriously (doesn’t matter whether it was serious or not, what stood out was the effort) consider signing a mock up petition as opposed to something realistic that aimed to merely ask our government for just a few more pennies from our tax dollars to go into the funding of NASA. What the fuck is wrong with this society? I get that you hold your culture so near and dear to you and perhaps have a soft spot for starwars and scifi, but really? These are the things you deem important? You would think that more of us would be active and vocal about our interests in seeing this country moving forward.

What costs more than space exploration? Pennies. Literally, pennies.

According to the 2012 Annual Report of the US Mint, between 2011 and 2012, the US government spent a total of $219.5 million manufacturing and ‘selling’ one cent pieces, more commonly known as pennies. Remarkably, this led to a two year total seigniorage of $118.2 million. If you are like me and had to look up the word seigniorage, you may have just learned that that number means that the actual value of those new pennies was $118.2 million less than what was spent to produce and sell them (each one-cent piece costs about two cents to make).

In June 2012, NASA launched the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. NuSTAR is a X-ray telescope meant to, among other things, “take a census of collapsed stars and black holes.” One of NuSTAR’s main design features is a deployable mast; the spacecraft was only about two meters long at launch, but once in orbit, extended a mast to reach a new size of over 10 meters. The NuSTAR mission costs about $165 million.

Side note: the penny pictured here is not a 2012 penny, nor a 2011 penny; it is a 1909 penny. There are many special things about this penny, but probably the most remarkable is that it is currently on the surface of Mars. Using a completely unofficial, back of the envelope estimate based on the total cost of the Curiosity mission, the weight of the rover, and the weight of a 1909 penny, it probably cost about $2,000 to put that penny on the surface of Mars.

(Photos are both public domain NASA / JPL photos)

I’ve been spending hours in the library researching for my final paper of the semester, and I’ve found some disturbing trends. The arguement topic I am focusing on is that we should invest heavily in space exploration. I’m only allowed to use the school database for my sources, so I’ve been limited to academic journals, magazines, papers, books, and newspapers. 

What I’ve been finding is that the only con arguement (and I’ve only found them in newspaper editorial sections, suggesting that educated people generally support the funding of NASA) to funding space exploration is that we could be spending that same amount of money somewhere else. However, the same people that argue about how expensive it is also agree that there is a far greater return on the investment. It’s extremely contradictory. 

What it boils down to is that government officials are treating NASA as a special intrest group instead of national intrest group, and this is happening even though the support and funding of NASA is generally bipartisan. It’s why when I say something like, “We can help fix the economy, national debt, and the outsourcing of jobs by funding NASA…” I am automatically cast aside as someone promoting my own intrests.

But at the end of all this research, what I’m actually finding is that the solution to many of our Earthly problems is truly right in front of our faces, and it’s NASA. This isn’t a joke or a cheap plug! In this modern age of a technologically driven economy, we need STEM everything more than ever. NASA has an amazing track record for advancing a huge plethora of STEM fields.

We, as a nation, need to step back and very seriously consider that even if a lot of people don’t really care about exploring space, we care about the economy which means we need more STEM and we need it in the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable way. That’s NASA. 

This quote is from 1979. That is a few years after Apollo and just before the Space Shuttle. I wonder though, does it still hold true? As NASA’s budgets dwindle and wars carry on, I worry we actually are turning our back on the Universe.

We desperately need to reignite our sense of exploration because we have greater goals for mankind. Imagine if once again space exploration was a priority, pushing innovation across the globe. 

NASA’s current budget is 0.48% of the US Federal Budget. Imagine what the U.S. alone could do with a full 1%

Putting The Cost Of The ESA’s Rosetta Mission In Perspective

“So what do we get for our €1.4bn? Rosetta is both an astounding feat of engineering (catapulting a tonne of spacecraft across millions of kilometres of space and ending up in orbit around a comet just 4 km across) and an extraordinary opportunity for science (allowing us to examine the surface of a lump of rock and ice which dates from when the Solar System formed).

Like a lot of blue-skies science, it’s very hard to put a value on the mission. First, there are the immediate spin-offs like engineering know-how; then, the knowledge accrued, which could inform our understanding of our cosmic origins, amongst other things; and finally, the inspirational value of this audacious feat in which we can all share, including the next generation of scientists.

Whilst those things are hard to price precisely, in common with other blue-skies scientific projects, Rosetta is cheap. At €1.4bn, developing, building, launching and learning from the mission will cost about the same as 4.2 Airbus A380s—pretty impressive when you consider that it’s an entirely bespoke robotic spacecraft, not a production airliner. On a more everyday scale, it’s cost European citizens somewhere around twenty Euro cents per person per year since the project began in 1996.

Rosetta has already sent us some stunning images of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and today’s landing will, with any luck, provide us with our first close-up glimpse of the chaotic surface of this dirty snowball. If you’re a sci-fi fan, then, you might consider the mission to have been worth its price tag just for the pictures. The total cost for the Rosetta mission is about €3.50 per person in Europe; based on the average cinema ticket price in the UK (€8.50), it has cost less than half of what it will cost for you to go to see Interstellar.”

Via Scienceogram:

Find Out How Budget Cuts Canceled NASA’s Own Comet Landing Mission:


The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has launched a new website to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing and President Kennedy’s grand vision that made that achievement possible. went live at 9:32 a.m. on July 16th, 2009 – exactly 40 years to the minute after the historic launch.

The site, powered by AOL, recreates Apollo 11’s lunar mission, minute by minute, with an interactive experience that lets visitors experience the mission as it happened, using archival audio, video, photos and “real time” transmissions.

People interested in experiencing the virtual recreation of Apollo 11 can pre-register to receive event email reminders and get regular “real time” updates during the four-day mission in July. Additionally, users will be able to follow the event on Twitter and through new AOL programming features coming at

“This site represents a unique opportunity for viewers to ‘go back in time’ and experience one of mankind’s most amazing achievements,” said Tom Putnam, director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. “From actual mission audio transmissions and archival video to mission factoids and news reels, visitors to will be able to track every step of the Apollo 11 mission, as it happened, 40 years later.“

“We’re incredibly thankful to AOL for powering the site and promoting it across their extensive online network, and for our 15-year agency partner, The Martin Agency, for dreaming up this inspiring concept,” Putnam said. “Students, historians and anyone who finds space exploration fascinating are in for a treat at”

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.

via URLwire

This may be the most awesome thing you will see all day. What an amazing tribute to THE endeavor that altered history for life on this planet. Brace yourselves….it’s quite a ride - literally - and will take a good bit of a time to experience every little cosmic detail they’ve packed into this. Ad astra per aspera, indeed.

Carl Sagan | Gift of Apollo

Carl Sagan | End of an Era: The Final Shuttle Launch

Neil deGrasse Tyson | We Stopped Dreaming

Neil deGrasse Tyson | A New Perspective

Neil deGrasse Tyson | Testimony: Senate Science Committee

Neil deGrasse Tyson | "Audacious Visions”

Neil deGrasse Tyson | Ambition

Neil deGrasse Tyson | Keynote Speech: National Space Symposium

Fight For Space | Documentary Trailer