What Happened to MegaBots?, Qatar, Mushroom Packaging - 12/28/2018
MegaBots emerged years ago as an entrepreneur in the robot fighting business. Gundam and BattleTech are obvious inspirations for the genre in addition to Robot Wars and there was even a robot boxing film called Real Steel a few years back. The inspiration for this form of robot combat has existed for quite a while which led to the expected excitement amongst fans. Displaying some of the first oversized robots we’d ever seen in real life fans were excited to see the MegaBots Kuratas clash. Gradually the hype built up, MegaBots unveiled Eagle Prime and the fight was finally scheduled in Japan. Raking in huge views the fight was criticized for slow moving robots (despite few mentioning that this was the first real test and hadn’t been done before but hey, they would do better right?) but exciting to those of us, including myself, who’d been dying to see it. In the wake of the successful event a Kickstarter was launched and a future league of fighting robots in development. This would turn out to flounder because the Kickstarter failed and Matt Oehrlein, a co-founder and current CEO announced they had run out of money.
The State of Qatar is currently undergoing serious tensions with its Arabian neighbors which could potentially become far more difficult. Saudi Arabia is currently considering bids to develop a canal along its border with Qatar. Called the Salwa Canal, it is named after the Saudi town on the border. The canal would be 70 km long and be used for tourism, resorts and commerce. The issue with a canal is the location. Qatar is a peninsula and if the Saudis dig a canal on their border it will cut Qatar’s land connection and turn Qatar into an island. Due to the high tensions it appears to be a political play to “cut” Qatar off Saudi Arabia as well as create an easier shipping lane next to Saudi Arabia which the UAE and Bahrain can use to stay away from Iran. However there’s also another issue at hand.
When you have a product shipped to your house you’d normally expect one of a few types of packaging. Bubble wrap, plastic with air pumped into it, cardboard paper or Styrofoam are some of the common options but what about mushrooms? Not the most common material to cradle your valuables in yet Ecovative Design decided years ago to begin addressing the mounting piles of trash generated by shipping. Their material, MycoBond, uses the mycelium from mushrooms (a mushroom’s mycelium is the same as a plant’s roots) to create a compostable alternative to the petroleum derived foam we still use. Since Amazon alone can show the staggering scale of products which are shipped from online purchases these days biodegradable alternatives are badly need to curb obscene amounts of trash.
Orbital ATK is no longer an independent space and weapons contractor. As of June 2018 the company has been acquired by the military weapons developer Northrop Grumman and will be renamed Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems. This will form Northrop Grumman’s fourth business division to handle space, aerospace and related industry fields. Orbital ATK was known for the Cygnus spacecraft (used repeatedly for ISS resupply missions) and the Antares rocket used to launch the Cygnus. Orbital ATK itself was a merger of Orbital Sciences Corporation (which had acquired numerous space companies over the years) and Alliant Techsystems. Orbital had long been a facet of the space industry, working with NASA, developing missile systems and creating satellites, spacecrafts and rockets. Alliant had worked on much the same. The merger had conditions though. Apart from Northrop Grumman, the only other company to produce solid rocket motors is Aerojet Rocketdyne, and those days may come to an end.