Posts

October 30, 2014

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9:01 PM | China Plans To Put Floating Docks On Disputed Islands
Swallow Reef (Pulau Layang-Layang) in Spratly Islands, South China Sea Matthew Lee, via Wikimedia Commons What’s a country to do with a chain of disputed islands? One option is just “go ahead and build a dock to claim them,” and attach it to some of the islands. Shown off at the Shiptec China 2014 exhibition, China has a plan for floating docks it wants to put in the disputed Spratly Islands. Roughly, the Spratly Islands refers to an area 500 nautical miles […]

October 28, 2014

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7:50 PM | Future Airplanes Might Replace Windows With OLED Screens
Windowless Airplane Concept Centre for Process Innovation There may be no such thing as a window seat on the airliners of the future. A concept released by the U.K.’s Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) envisions airliners with thinner walls, made by doing away with cabin windows altogether. In their place, CPI sees OLED screens lining entire interior walls, which would show passengers the sky around them. Weirdly, the OLED screens aren’t CPI’s selling […]

October 27, 2014

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5:45 PM | Lifeguard Drone Ready For Mass Production [Video]
Pars Drone Demonstrator RTS Labs In the not too distant future, swimmers in distress may look up to the sky for help and find, not a lifeguard, but a drone, delivering a life preserver in their moment of need. Designed by Amin Rigi and RTS Labs in Iran, the Pars drone is a robotic lifesaver. First demonstrated in 2013, Rigi is launching an RTS Labs offshoot, RTS London, to mass produce the drones. Here’s how Popular Science first covered the Pars drone in […]

October 24, 2014

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10:30 PM | The Week In Drones: Monitoring Macaques, Vineyard Helpers, And More
Grapevines In A Vineyard, Napa Valley Jim G, via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Pocket Drone Made by Cyphy Works, this tiny hexarotor solves one big problem for small drones -- short battery life -- by replacing it with an entirely different problem: tethering. The drone carries 250 feet of filament behind it, connected to a cell phone. […]
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8:30 PM | Drones Are Tracking Monkeys To Spot Malaria Outbreaks
Pig-Tailed Macaque Bites A Car Lip Kee, via Wikimedia Commons In the jungles on the island of Borneo, flying robots are following monkeys. These drones aren’t part of a sinister pre-emptive strike against the Planet of the Apes. Instead, they’re trying to find the source of new malaria outbreaks among the monkeys. It’s the best the future has to offer: humans using robots to save monkeys from disease. “Mapping infectious disease landscapes: unmanned […]

October 22, 2014

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10:00 PM | Sandia Labs Reveals New Sniper Sight [Video]
U.S. Special Forces Demonstrate RAZAR Photo courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories In the tense moments of a long-range gun battle, unnecessary movements can give away a combatant's position, cause them to lose sight of the enemy, and possibly lead to fatalities. For America’s special forces, Sandia National Laboratories has developed a new sniper scope that, with the press of a button, adjusts focus. Called Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles (RAZAR), the lens has […]
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8:30 PM | Audi Claims Self-Driving Car Set Speed Record At 149 MPH
A 2014 Audi RS7 According to Audi, a driverless version of this car set a driverless speed record. Sarah Larson, via Wikimedia Commons A major selling point of self-driving cars is what they remove from the road: human error, driver exhaustion, distracted driving because someone has to keep reminding the urchins in the backseat that "No, we’re not there yet, and if you keep asking I'm pulling the car over right now." Less attention has been paid to the new […]

October 21, 2014

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4:55 PM | Man In Japan Arrested For 3-D Printing Revolvers
ZigZag Revolver Unassembled Screenshot, "3D Printed Guns First in the world 3D Zig Zag Revolver Made in Japan" When the first working gun was 3-D printed in the United States, the government responded not through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, but instead through the State Department. Guns, it turns out, aren’t terribly hard to get in the United States, so a 3-D printed gun doesn’t radically change gun access here. In countries with stricter gun […]

October 20, 2014

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10:08 PM | What To Wear When You're On The Run From The NSA
CV Dazzle Makeup They may look like high fashion, but these styles are actually designed to fool facial recognition software. Adam Harvey In the documentary film "Citizenfour" by Laura Poitras, it’s revealed that Edward Snowden’s longtime girlfriend Lindsay Mills also left the United States and joined Snowden in Russia. Cheekily, Vogue suggests a trio of outfits for Mills, to match both the climate and the need for discretion that comes with proximity to […]

October 17, 2014

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9:59 PM | The Week In Drones: Pregnant Whales, Disaster Mapping, And More
Killer Whales Nuzzling As Seen From A Drone NOAA, Vancouver Aquarium. Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Drones For Claims USAA insures millions of Americans, primarily those serving in the military and their families. Earlier this month, they petitioned the FAA to let them use drones to evaluate claims after natural disasters. An insurance underwriter for USAA told Fast […]
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4:35 PM | Video: Laser Beam Makes Falling Droplets Explode
In mere fractions of a second, a laser turns a millimeter-sized droplet of liquid into a constellation of tiny fragments. Captured at 20,000 frames per second by a team of researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, “Laser Impact On A Drop” is violently beautiful. Here’s now the researchers describe the experiment: The energy deposition in a liquid drop on a nanosecond time scale by impact of a laser pulse can induce various reactions, such as […]

October 16, 2014

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7:49 PM | Researchers Make One-Atom-Thin Electrical Generator
A Sample Of Molybdenum Disulfide Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Columbia Engineering have made the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity and the piezotronic effect in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). Shown is a sample of the material that was tested as part of the research. The material could be the basis for unique electric generator and mechanosensation devices that are optically transparent, extremely light, and […]

October 14, 2014

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5:00 PM | Security Experts Build $150 Safecracker
Boston Public Library Combination Lock rpongsaj, via Wikimedia Commons Thanks to a pair of Melbourne security researchers, the cost of opening safes just hit a new low. Using an arduino platform and 3-D printed parts, the pair has created a contraption that can open many combination locks, like those on ATMs and gun safes. The device costs just $150 in parts, but people shouldn’t throw out their safes just yet: it takes about four days to crack the lock. Brute […]
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2:00 PM | Secret Robot Space Plane Returns To Earth Today
x-37B Upright U.S. Air Force In 2012, the Air Force sent an unmanned robot plane into space. It is scheduled to return today, completing its third voyage into space, one that began way back in the simpler days of 2012. The X-37B (not to be confused with the U.S. Navy’s terrestrial experimental unmanned X-47B airplane) is a known space plane with a secret purpose. One early guess as to the function of the X-37B? It might ferry future troops into battle, taking them very […]

October 13, 2014

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6:30 PM | Investigators Narrow MH-370 Crash Site To Smaller Stretch Of Ocean
Flight Path Reconstruction Google Earth/ Flight path reconstruction group, via Australian Transport Safety Bureau In March, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared over the ocean. Despite international attention and search efforts, the plane was never recovered. On Wednesday, the Australian Transport Safety Board published a report that narrows the slice of sea where it’s likely the plane crashed. The ocean is still vast and […]

October 10, 2014

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8:15 PM | The Week In Drones: Hawk Attacks, Drone Races, And More
Drone Pilot With First Person View Goggles Herve Pellarin, screenshot via YouTube Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Hawk Attacks Drone A cambridge man flying his quadcopter got an aerial surprise when a hawk attacked his drone midair. The video is brief and the drone-hawk fight even briefer. A modern toy was no match for the skills of a predator that evolved for […]
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7:00 PM | Take Orders From A Cat And Learn Cybersecurity
Prepare For Cyber Attack Cats do not have the best business sense. PBS Cybersecurity Lab Screenshot It was my first day on the job as chief technology officer for "SnapCat," and the hostile attacks on our servers came at us fast. With proper coding and security measures, I blocked some, but my cat boss informed me after that attack that about a third of our users were driven away from the site because of our poor security. In PBS’s online Cyber Lab […]
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4:00 PM | Tesla CEO Wants Mostly Self-Driving Cars By Next Year
Tesla Model S electric car Shal Farley Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors promises the car of the future today. In September, the billionaire promised something new for his electric vehicles: autopilot, mostly. Well, “90 percent of your miles can be on auto.” Left unsaid is how exactly that’s going to happen. The goal of a self-driving Tesla car is not new. Back in September 2013, when Elon Musk first announced his goal of a […]

October 08, 2014

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9:00 PM | This Gun Makes And Fires Paper Airplanes
A6 V1.0 Paper Airplane Gun Papierfliegerei, screenshot from YouTube Sometimes, a person accomplishes something so great, so revolutionary, that all they can do is smile as wide as humanly possible and show off the thing. This paper airplane gun, crafted by a 3-D printing and paper airplane enthusiast, is such a device. Wordlessly, the operator fires a series of paper airplanes. Then, with the top of the device removed, he reveals the assembly line inside the weapon. The […]
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8:00 PM | Using Lasers To Save Earth's Cultural Monuments
Washington Monument Interior LIDAR Scan CyArk History is unwritten by the destruction of great artifacts. Six of the seven wonders of the ancient world are gone, fallen into ruin and sold for scrap, and it is only through historical memory that we know of them. Preserving modern wonders for posterity is the main inititiative of CyArk, a nonprofit that uses 3-D laser scanning to create a digital archive of the world’s cultural heritage sites. Key to CyArk is a […]

October 07, 2014

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9:34 PM | Giant Clams Are Greenhouses For Algae
Giant Clam James Heilman, MD, via Wikimedia Commons Giant clams loom large on coral reefs, their gaping maws filled with bright lights. On other mollusks, this iridescence is a camouflage, guiding the eye away from the creature’s body. Recent research published in the Royal Society of Science’s journal Interface reveals that these patches of iridescence filter and distribute light for algae that grows inside the clams. Algae and  giant clams have a symbiotic […]

October 06, 2014

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7:20 PM | Navy Demonstrates Swarm Of Armed Robot Boats
Unmanned Patrol Boat Look ma, no crew! U.S. Navy Photo Call them sea drones, dronaughts, or roboats, the Navy demonstrated a swarm of remotely-controlled boats on the James River in Virginia this August. As if animated by the same mind, the 13 patrol boats all moved in unison, their crewless decks painting a picture of what warfare may soon become. The project, by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), wants to save both lives and costs, keeping sailors out of […]
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3:00 PM | New Military Helicopter Can Cruise At 253 MPH
The Raider As Unveiled Sikorsky Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider looks like the future. Not the distant future -- not the “Star Trek” future -- but a closer, more attainable future. Its design is based primarily on Sikorsky's X-2 project, and as the name implies, this isn’t just the future of helicopters. This is the future of helicopters at war. The Raider turns the standard helicopter’s normal balancing tail rotor perpendicular, […]

October 03, 2014

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6:45 PM | The Week In Drones: Drunk Drivers, Democracy, Volcanic Eruptions, And More
Grand Forks Police Qube Drone Kelsey D. Atherton Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Drunk Bust North Dakota is one of the first states to practice using drones. In 2001, with the help of a drone on loan from Customs and Border Protection, North Dakota police arrested a cattle thief. Now, the police department in Grand Forks, North Dakota used a drone to find […]

October 02, 2014

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7:45 PM | Man Shoots Down Drone, Lawyers Scratch Their Heads
Johnny Dronehunter A still from "Johnny Dronehunter," an ad for shotgun silencer maker SilencerCo. In the ad, the protagonist shoots down a bunch of drones with a shotgun like so many clay pigeons. SilencerCo Shooting down a small drone is hard. But determining whether people should be allowed to do so may prove more difficult still. A man in New Jersey fired a shotgun at his neighbor's drone, and as the quadcopter crashed to the ground, the incident raised new […]

October 01, 2014

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6:45 PM | Governor Brown Vetoes Drone Privacy Bill
California State Capitol Laws happen here, sometimes. PeteBobb, via Wikimedia Commons A California bill that would require police to obtain warrants before using drones for most purposes was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown this week. While the bill contains exceptions for emergency situations, wildfires, coordinating traffic accident first responders, and environmental disasters, it does rule out police using drones for routine traffic stops or other searches, […]

September 30, 2014

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6:00 PM | Wearable Drone Nixie Flies Up From Your Wrist
Nixie Concept Team Nixie Sure, Apple's new smart watch brings smartphone features to users' wrists, but can it fly free and take video in the air? The Nixie, which has none of the features of a watch other than wrist-wearability, is a drone for people who like robots as fashion statements, as well as aerial photography. Nixie is a quadcopter with flexible arms, letting it cling to a pilot's wrist like a scared mechanical flying squirrel. Created by […]
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