Chalk one up for us Brits in the space tech column; boffins at the Rutherford Appleton Labs have developed a ‘mini-magnetosphere’ that could well protect astronauts in spacecraft from harmful solar radiation:
… their prototype offers almost total protection against high energy solar particles. By mimicking the natural protective environment of the Earth, the researchers have scaled the protective magnetic bubble down into an energy efficient, yet powerful deflector shield. This astounding achievement is a big step toward protecting sensitive electronics and the delicate human body against the radioactive effects of manned missions between the planets.
The best bit?
… they have devised a system no bigger than a large desk that uses the same energy as an electric kettle.
All of a sudden, space seems a lot more open to colonisation, and a pulp sf trope edges close to being a mundane sf reality. w00t! [via Paul McAuley]