Jul 30, 2014

Why Martha Stewart loves her drone

posted by Laura Domela

Because it's a useful tool. And imagine what Louis XIV could have accomplished at Versailles if he'd had one.

There’s been a lot of discussion and a tremendous amount of speculation lately about the nature of drones and their role in our society as useful tools and hobbyist toys.

Last year, while celebrating my birthday in Maine, I was given a drone fitted with a high-definition camera. After a quick introduction to the mechanics of operating the contraption and a few words about its idiosyncrasies, I loaded the appropriate app on my iPad and went down to the beach.

In just a few minutes I was hooked. In near silence, the drone rose, hovered, and dove, silently and surreptitiously photographing us and the landscape around us. The photos and video were stunning. By assuming unusual vantage points, the drone allowed me to “see” so much more of my surroundings than usual. The view I was “seeing” on my iPad with the help of the drone would have otherwise been impossible without the use of a private plane, helicopter, or balloon. With any of those vehicles, I would have needed a telephoto lens, and all of them would have made an unacceptable commotion on the beach. What’s more, I would not have been in the photos!
via Time Magazine

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Tags : things that fly, RC, drones,    1 comment  
Jul 30, 2014

Physicist concocts ice cream that changes color when you lick it

posted by Larra Morris

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What happens when a physicist decides to become a chef? If they're anything like Manuel Linares, then you can expect a fusion of food and science to come out of their kitchen. For instance, one of the Spaniard's masterpieces is an ice cream that changes colors when you lick it. He calls it the Xamaleón, a play on the Spanish word for chameleon, and it originally starts as a periwinkle blue frozen treat until it's spritzed with Linares' "love elixir," a super secret mixture he concocted himself. This mixture reacts to changes in temperature and saliva, causing the tutti-frutti-flavored ice cream to turn into purple, then into pink as you lick.
via Engadget

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Jul 30, 2014

The first man-made biological leaf turns light and water into oxygen

posted by Larra Morris

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If humanity hopes to realize its dreams of exploring the stars, we're going to need to find ways to recreate life on Earth aboard a spaceship. Simply stockpiling enough vital supplies isn't going to cut it, which is what led Julian Melchiorri, a student at the Royal College of Art, to create an artificial biological leaf that produces oxygen just like the ones on our home planet do.

The problem with using natural foliage on our interstellar explorations is that plants may not flourish in zero gravity as much as we'd need them to. But since they're a better way to produce oxygen than simply trying to carry countless tanks full of O2, Melchiorri wanted to engineer a better alternative that would easy survive the rigors of space travel.
via Gizmodo

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Jul 30, 2014

Holographic politicians could soon become a normal thing in the US

posted by Larra Morris

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Earlier this year, India's prime minister Narendra Modi was campaigning for reelection and used a rather unusual method for being in many different places at once: he became a hologram. Not biologically, but with the help of a company called NChant3D that broadcast his nearly hour-long speech in 53 different locations. Now a US company called HologramUSA has the rights to use that technology in the US, and has just hired a lobbyistin Washington, DC to push the Democrats and Republicans into using holograms in the upcoming 2016 presidential election, reports Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
via The Verge

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Jul 29, 2014

Scientists investigate radio wave "bursts" from space

posted by Laura Domela

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Two different radio telescopes have now picked up fast "burst" signals that seem to originate outside our galaxy.

Let's cut to the chase: Is it aliens?

Right now, scientists don't have enough examples of the bursts to know what is causing them. It is, however, important to note that there are lots of other potential explanations besides the inevitable first contact hypothesis. That said, they also don't have enough data to rule out the idea of an alien civilization metaphorically pointing their flashlight at our window. So speculate away, friends. It could be anything. All we have right now is enough data to know that the answer is likely to be interesting, even if aliens aren't involved.
via Boing Boing

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Image: Arecibo radio telescope — one of the two that have detected the burst signal
Some rights reserved by hmboo Electrician and Adventurer.

 

Tags : space, communication,    0 comments  
Jul 29, 2014

The beauty of zipper merging, or why you should drive ruder

posted by Laura Domela

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Of all of the reasons for traffic snarls, impending lane closures bring out a particularly brutal combination of road rage and etiquette confusion. Most drivers know the pain of approaching two lanes in this situation; the left one is backed up much further because the right one will close in less than a mile thanks to, say, construction.

Which lane should a driver pick in this scenario? Steer to the left as soon as you see a closure notice and you'll almost certainly go slower; stay in the right and you'll catch stink-eye, honks, and even swerving drivers. Everyone is upset that you're about to essentially cut in line—an act that will require a tense, last-minute merge of your own.

Most driving schools and transportation departments in the United States don't instruct drivers on how to handle this situation or whether they must merge within a certain mileage, leaving this kind of merge up to the grace of your fellow, angry commuters. This week, however, Washington state joined Minnesota in sending a clear message to drivers: merge rudely. It's actually faster and safer.
via ars technica

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Image: Lensinatrix

Tags : transportation,    0 comments  
Jul 29, 2014

These light paintings show how wi-fi swirls and shifts around you

posted by Larra Morris

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Ever wondered how the Wi-Fi signal varies around your house or workplace? Well, a new project by Luis Hernan combines signal strength sensing with light painting to show you just that.

As part of a project for his PhD in Architecture and Interaction Design, Hernan has createdwhat he calls a Kirlian device: it's an instrument that senses the signal strength of Wi-Fi networks, and then translates the signals into color using LEDs. Using a long exposure, he can then lightpaint entire physical spaces—creating these beautiful images, which visualize how Wi-Fi shifts ann swirls within the walls of a building.
via Gizmodo

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Image: Digital Ethereal 

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Jul 29, 2014

Stanford researchers develop self-cooling solar cells

posted by Larra Morris

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Photovoltaic cells are one of the more promising alternative energy sources. Mechanically they are very simple, with no moving parts, and are clean and emission-free. Unfortunately they are also inefficient. One of the reasons for this is that they overheat, a problem that a Stanford University team under electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan is addressing with the development of a thin glass layer that makes solar cells self-cooling.
via Gizmag

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Image: The Optical Society 

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Jul 29, 2014

Stackable cells allow you to sleep on top of your friends at music festivals

posted by Larra Morris

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There may be a much more comfortable and stylish way to stay the night next time you head to a big music festival. Two Belgian design firms have created an efficient new type of campsite that stacks tiny sleeping pods together like a honeycomb. The pods look like they should provide a bit more comfort and space than the average tent — they even have power and a king-size bed — but the overall structure shouldn't take up dramatically more room because it's building vertically, using a short stairwell to provide access the upper levels.
via The Verge

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Jul 28, 2014

Sensor-powered seatbelt could save the lives of sleepy drivers

posted by Laura Domela

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Wearable tech has done a lot to foster the rise of the "quantified self" space, but surprisingly few of these devices focus on enhancing our safety.

Now a new prototype system looks to harness the kind of heartbeat and respiration monitoring features present in some wearables to alert drivers as to when they are dozing off behind the wheel.

Developed by the Biomechanics Institute (IBV) in Valencia, Spain, the Heart and Respiration In-Car Embedded Non-Intrusive Sensors (Harken) system works by measuring the heart rate (via seatbelt sensors) and respiratory pace (via seat cover sensors) of the driver.
via Mashable

Tags : automotive,    0 comments  
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