Moon Mission 2024: The plan to return to the lunar surface — and the tech that’ll get us there

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the lunar surface in 1969 (credit: NASA)

UNLESS you’ve been living under an enormous rock or are a conspiracy theorist (in which case past form says you might get a punch in the face from Buzz Aldrin), you’ll know tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing that made heroes out of the Apollo 11 crew — Neil Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins’ mission was the first of six that saw astronauts leave footprints on the lunar surface.

Although truly revolutionary for its time, some of the technology that landed humans on the Moon was mind-bogglingly primitive by today’s standards. Even the smartphone in your pocket/handbag/manbag has thousands of times the processing power of the computer that guided the astronauts there.

In the 47 years since humans last set foot on lunar soil, tech has moved on — and in just a few years’ time, it could help us go back…

The full article appeared in the 19 July 2019 issue of Metro and can be also be viewed in the e-edition.

Get into the groove: High-definition vinyl promises to be the next big thing in analogue music

Cambridge Audio Alva TT

The Cambridge Audio Alva TT

THE big vinyl comeback is no one-hit wonder. In 2018 sales of vinyl LPs rose for the 11th consecutive year to a whopping 4.2 million, according to music industry body BPI. To put that in perspective, just 205,000 LPs were sold when the format was floundering in 2007.

But while you’re listening to Arctic Monkeys’ retro-futurist triumph Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino — last year’s top seller out of the 12,000 LPs released on vinyl, incidentally — consider this: a new format will be amping up the analogue audio party when it hits shops at the end of the year. It’s called HD vinyl and it’s going to inject some big improvements into the audio quality of those polyvinyl chloride discs.

So with vinyl facing a next-gen upgrade and the dizzy rate at which new turntables are released, it’s no wonder that Record Store Day, which sees 200 UK independent record shops band together to celebrate and sell limited-edition releases, is back again this Saturday. Read on to make sure you’re ready for the latest high-def debate…

The full article appeared in the 12 April 2019 issue of Metro and can be also be viewed in the e-edition.

Are you ready for the afterlife? How tech can help us achieve immortality

Credit: V&A Museum

Technological innovations could help us achieve immortality and preserve the future of the human race

THE idea of creating a ‘digital you’ that lives on after you die may sound like something straight out of Black Mirror but the wheels are already in motion — as are developments to ensure the future survival of our race should doomsday descend.

The Eternime app, for example, which is still in testing mode, uses social media posts to build a digital avatar your family and friends can interact with after you’re dead. So far, so creepy, right? The app features in a major new exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum called The Future Starts Here, where the digital afterlife is just one of the technological innovations that could — in theory — keep us living forever…

The full article appeared in the 18 May 2018 print edition of Metro and can also be viewed in the e-edition.

Back in an instant: the return of Polaroid

Polaroid Originals

Polaroids are well and truly back. Instant photography has been bubbling along for a few years but a wave of nostalgia inspired by the likes of Netflix drama Stranger Things, coupled with a brand new Polaroid camera, is putting the distinctive square snaps back on the map.

The story of instant photos goes back to 1937, when Edwin Land founded Polaroid. The company popularised instant snaps but went bankrupt in 2001 and scrapped instant film production in 2008 as digital cameras took over.

Shortly afterwards a brand known as The Impossible Project bought Polaroid’s last factory and film stock. Since acquiring the Polaroid name this year, it has relaunched as Polaroid Originals with a new retro-styled camera, the OneStep 2 (£109.99).

Designed to resemble the original OneStep from 1977, the new camera takes both classic 600 film and Polaroid’s new i-Type film, and has a built-in flash, a self-timer for selfies and a 60-day battery life. But what exactly is it about instant photography that makes it so appealing?

The full article appeared in the 24 November 2017 issue of Metro and can be also be viewed in the e-edition.

Cool coding just for kids

Pioneering Nasa scientist Katherine Johnson celebrated in Lego

If nerds are the new rock stars, it’s time to get kids techy

Tech innovation depends on brainpower. That’s why encouraging children to study STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is vital. And the good news is there’s help at hand. Lego has just launched its Boost sets, which incorporate app-based coding — allowing kids to bring their creations to life.

Aimed at children aged seven and older, the kits enable youngsters to build projects including Vernie The Robot and the Guitar 4000, while learning about how the built-in motors and sensors work. They can even add personality to their creations using voice recordings.

The Danish toymaker is also working on a Women Of Nasa set. Designed to mark the accomplishments of women and people of colour in space (and hopefully encourage their successors) it has just been given the green light to go into production…

You can read the full article in Metro (originally published 10 March 2017).