Science & Technology 2008

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 December, 2008, 12:00am

Compiled by Wong Yat-hei

Mars Lander

In July, Nasa's Phoenix Mars Lander detected water on the surface of Mars, proving scientists' speculations correct. The spacecraft was launched in August last year and landed on Mars in May this year. Over the following five months it sent back more than 25,000 images from Mars. In October it lost contact with Earth due to energy exhaustion putting the historic space mission to an end.

Large Hadron Collider

In September, the world's largest particle accelerator went into action. It smashes protons into each other 6,000 times a second and at nearly the light of speed. Its aim is to find out why mass exists and whether there are other dimensions. Unfortunately it had to be shut down 10 days after it started due to an over-heated wire, and will not restart until spring - which means we will have to wait for the answers.

Robot suit

A Japanese scientist has invented a special robot suit to help people who are unable to walk. The suit is able to help people in wheelchairs stand, walk or even climb a mountain. The robot suit is called HAL - Hybrid Assistive Limb - and is able to detect natural electrical currents that pass over the surface of the skin, allowing it to anticipate muscle movement, and automatically moving the muscles so as to be able to move around in the way the person intended.

New creatures found on Australian reefs

Hundreds of new animal species, including brilliant soft corals and tiny crustaceans have been discovered by marine scientists on reefs in Australian waters. Among the creatures discovered were about 130 soft corals and tiny shrimp-like animals with claws longer than their bodies. Marine scientists said they have been working in the area for a long time and there are still lots of new species that are yet to be discovered.

Invisibility cloak

Scientists have created two new types of material that can bend the direction of light, creating the first step towards an invisibility device. They have discovered a type of 'fishnet' metal and so-called nanowires that can reverse the direction of light. However, invisible people will not be walking around any time soon, because scientists say they are still at the preliminary stages of developing the technology.