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The demise of the $100 Laptop

» Still Waiting for That $100 Laptop? makes some good points about the drawbacks of Nicholas Negroponte's ambitious scheme.  [ 09/26/07 ]

How to Become a Mad Scientist for DARPA

» How to Become a Mad Scientist for DARPA

In the grand ballroom, amid flashing blue lights and rock guitar riffs, 50 or so program managers take turns laying out their goals for the next two years of DARPA funding. The guy in charge of materials science wants to support research into something called "programmable matter." Eventually, he says, we'll have a blob of goo that can form itself into a hammer in one instant, a wrench in the next. "It's an instant toolkit—a universal spare part!" Another manager shows trippy slides of veinous bio-scapes, and wonders how we might "killproof" our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He's looking for proposals to create a universal immune cell that can be used to protect soldiers from any deadly pathogen. One by one, the DARPA administrators sketch out their nutty techno-fantasies for an audience of 3,000 professors and engineers. And they've got billions of dollars to make those fantasies come true.
Let me repeat a question I asked yesterday: How do you get this job?

  [ 08/14/07 ]

Magicbike: WiFi Bicycle

» Neat. Magicbike is a bicycle modified to provide wireless Internet access wherever it is parked or ridden.

A Magicbike hotspot operates like standard hotspots, able to serve up to 250 users in a radius of 30 meters indoors and 100 meters outdoors.... A group of bikes can repeat and/or bridge the signal down a chain of wireless bikes. Meaning, a bicycle gang can snake into subways stations or across hilltops to provide Internet connectivity to (fringe but) vital communities and spaces ignored by the traditional telecommunications industry. A grassroots bottom-up wireless infrastructure can be formed and pedaled to any place accessible by bicycle. (emphasis mine)

Think that's cool? Check out this proposed wifi rickshaw from 2003. (Thanks, Rory!) (1) Comments  / [ 05/02/07 ]

Airfare deals on the Web

» NYT: Damon Darlin has pulled together a nice summary of a few next-generation airline fare-comparison sites, including one site that is built on the idea that human beings—in this case, a staff of 5—are better at spotting the best deals than computers can be.   [ 04/10/07 ]

Time Magazine's Best Inventions of the Year

» Time's Inventions of the Year. Their choice for Best Invention of the Year is YouTube—and the list is filled with many other worthy contenders. A bike-riding robot, a levitating bed (suspended midair using repelling magnets), a device that cleans foods by superoxygenating ordinary tap water, a flower-shaped lamp that monitors household energy usage and rewards low power consumption by opening it's "petals", and something I've wanted for a long time: the home wind turbine, which can generate up to 80% of the average household's electricity. Now, it Time would invent better navigation for their selections next year (what's wrong with a list?), I'll be a confirmed fan.  [ 11/14/06 ]

Bluegills detect toxins in city water supplies

» San Francisco, New York, and Washington have installed the "Intelligent Aquatic BioMonitoring System" developed for the Army to detect toxins in the water supply before it can reach the populace. It's most sophisticated sensor? Bluegills(2) Comments  / [ 09/19/06 ]

What happens when GM escapes into the wild?

» When genetically modified plants go wild.

Some amount of movement of GM crops outside their containment areas "is virtually inevitable," Mr. Fernandez says. "The question is, how do we feel about that? How important is that? Does it matter what the crop is?" The bentgrass may pose no significant danger, he says, but "would we feel differently" if it were a plant that produced pharmaceuticals?

Also, um: "This year, 61 percent of all corn and 89 percent of all soybeans planted in the United States were GM varieties, the USDA estimates. More than 80 percent of the US cotton crop is also GM." I don't mind them doing it, so much as I mind them doing it in secret. If this is really safe, why can't we know about it? But I suppose its just easier to donate to the re-election campaigns of key people than to do the hard work of educating the public, or actually participating in a public conversation about the merits and dangers of these products, and how they should be implemented. (via dm(4) Comments  / [ 09/08/06 ]

Modern Mendels

» Strong anti-GMO feeling in Europe means that US farmers can't export their genetically enhanced produce overseas. Biotech companies are responding by combining high-tech genetic analysis with good old-fashioned cross-breeding [ 08/29/06 ]

The modern tintype photographer who lives off the grid

» Garret points to a great story about a tintype artist living off the grid in NY State. "You’d be surprised at how delicate some of these re-enactors are." John A. Coffer, tintype photographer, on the Civil War re-enactors who regularly drive gasoline powered vehicles to re-enactments, instead of travelling for days in a horse and buggy, as he did. (1) Comments  / [ 08/07/06 ]

Smart Pans

» Smart pans. Training wheels for cooks.  [ 08/04/06 ]

Shields up, Mr. Worf

» NASA is researching the feasibility of constructing deflector shields to protect space travellers from radiation [ 07/24/06 ]


» Here comes the Nanofood. George Elvin describes the future of high-tech food.  [ 07/18/06 ]

More molecular gastronomy

» Wired: My Compliments to the Lab is another article on the "molecular gastronomists" who are using specialized equipment (the "anti-griddle", anyone?) and chemical additives to create cuisine that is both haute and high-tech.

"How would Thomas Keller make that parsley sauce?" Achatz asks.... He'd puree parsley and oil in a blender and strain it.
"Then he'd have parsley oil," Achatz says. "It tastes like parsley and oil." Achatz instead starts with parsley juice, maybe a little water and salt. "That liquid is going to taste intensely of parsley, because that's all it is. Then I'd thicken it with Ultra-tex 3, a modified starch that imparts zero flavor but gives it the same viscosity as oil."
Keller, in other words, would have compromised the flavor of the parsley. Achatz believes that technology can actually deliver a purer dish.

(via megnut(1) Comments  / [ 07/17/06 ]

The extinction of experience

» On the extinction of experience. Are today's kids spending too much time in mediated environments at the cost of learning about the world first-hand? (via dm(1) Comments  / [ 07/03/06 ]

Vibram FiveFingers Foot Sheath

» Vibram FiveFingers is a new "foot sheath" that is designed to provide a barefoot feel with the protection of a hiking boot. Centripetal Notion has photos and a link to some video.  [ 06/09/06 ]

The Good Good Pig has not yet found its niche

» The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood is the story of author Sy Montgomery's pet pig [review]. It's a brand-new book, and I guess it hasn't quite found its audience yet. Today, when I clicked the link, Amazon was pairing it with Autobiography of Malcolm X as their "Best Value".  [ 06/07/06 ]

Cell phone as film ticket

» Whither implants? Mobile Box Office allows you to buy movie tickets with your cell phone, then use your phone as your movie ticket (via an on-screen barcode). The pilot program is being implemented in Michigan-based Emagine Theatres. (via ibt [ 05/01/06 ]

Greenpeace Co-Founder embraces Nuclear Energy

» A Co-Founder of Greenpeace makes the case for nuclear energy. (thanks, Mark!)

It's thoughtful and plausible, though I'm sure an anti-nuclear activist could make a counter-argument that sounds just as plausible to me, since I know almost nothing real about the subject. I do think there's a bit of technophobia entwined with people's objections (as with their objections to GM crops and cloning). A death by radiation sounds horrible.

I honestly wish the government would spend the equivalent money on super-insulating people's houses and maybe subsidizing alternate energy sources before spending the money on nukes, though. (4) Comments  / [ 04/27/06 ]

Ban the Bulb Objections Countered

» This week's Green Room responds to the objections raised by Matt Prescott's call to ban the inefficient incandescent lightbulb [ 04/27/06 ]

R U Annoying

» Researchers at the MIT Media Lab are constructing an "emotional social intelligence prosthetic" device to warn autistic individuals — and others — if they are boring or irritating. I think we should attach one of these to every cell phone. (thanks, Chris!) (2) Comments  / [ 04/04/06 ]

Sub-vocal speech recognition software

» NASA's Charles Jorgensen is working on a technology called subvocal speech recognition, which can "read" the electrical currents sent from your brain to the speech muscles when you think, but do not say, a word. "As long as people have had machines and tools, they've been dependent on the physicality of the body. Separate those control activities from the body and it opens a whole new generation of interface design." Charles Jorgensen. (via c'ist [ 03/29/06 ]

Long-distance lovers' glasses

» Researchers at MIT have created wireless wine glasses for long-distance lovers. "When either person picks up a glass, red light-emitting diodes glow on their partner's glass. When one puts a glass to their lips, the other glass glows brightly."  (1) Comments  / [ 03/20/06 ]

$1 Indian Pirate Radio

» Fabulous. Read about the illiterate Indian mechanic who constructed a radio transmitter for $1, and now runs his village's only (illegal) FM radio station. "Since there's no phone-in facility, people send their requests for songs through couriers carrying handwritten messages and phone calls to a neighbouring public telephone office." (via rw [ 03/03/06 ]

New KFC commercial rewards DVRs

» Brilliant. A new KFC commmercial rewards DVR users, who can only crack a hidden message if they play the spot back slowly on a digital video recorder or VCR. As it was and ever will be, businesses who can exploit opportunities inherent in new technology will thrive; businesses who spend their time trying to turn back the clock, not so much.  [ 02/27/06 ]

Nanotechnology Advances

» I'm shocked to discover that an estimated $13 billion worth of nanotech-based products — including paints and cosmetics — were sold globally in 2004. The CSM reports on nanotechnology advances in batteries and solar cells and a possible technique for using infrared light to detect signs of nanoparticle contamination in plant and animal cells.  [ 02/24/06 ]


» A special strain of the soil bacterium may be able to convert used Styrofoam into eco-friendly plastic [ 02/23/06 ]

Tech industry: Make your own entertainment to share

» Why doesn't the tech industry create its own content and tell Hollywood to stuff their Digital Rights Management schemes?. It all makes sense to me except for the repeated use of the word "fab", which may mean a semiconductor plant [ 02/22/06 ]

Playstation in schools

» A North Carolina school district that purchased Playstations for classrooms had to enlist students to instruct teachers in the basics of using the machines.  [ 02/22/06 ]

Stuck on you - and stalking

» Instead of chasing cars, LAPD is now testing adhesive darts equipped with a global positioning system to track them instead.  [ 02/08/06 ]

Ameriprise customer data stolen

» It looks like the dumbest thing about Ameriprise is no longer their name: Ameriprise customer data has been stolen after a laptop containing unencrypted "sensitive personal information" was stolen from an Ameriprise employee's car. "Officials say one of the files on the computer contained only the names and internal Ameriprise account numbers of 158,000 customers. The second included the names and Social Security numbers of 68,000 Ameriprise advisers."  [ 01/31/06 ]

CellFlix Festival

» The winner of the first CellFlix Festival is Cheat [requires Quicktime], and it is a treat (and has exceeded its bandwidth. Try later if you can't get through now.) [CNN story.]  [ 01/31/06 ]

Video game library lending

» After a year of lending Playstation games to his patrons, librarian John Scalzo reports on the success of the new program and reflects on the complexities of dealing with limited budgets, double standards, and DVD theft rings. (via rw [ 01/27/06 ]

Better Coffee Through Science

» The AeroPress Coffee Machine uses immersion and pressure to deliver smooth, rich coffee in under 30 seconds. (thanks, jjg!)  [ 01/19/06 ]

Please include a recipe for chocolate

» Norway is planning to create a "doomsday vault", hewn from the inside of a mountain a thousand kilometers from the North Pole, to house seeds representing all known varieties of the world's crops.  [ 01/18/06 ]

Mad Rocket Scientist on trajectory to save the world

» Isaac Berzin, a rocket scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is creating algae farms to clean power-plant exhaust and create clean-burning fuels. "The cleansed exhaust bubbles skyward, but with 40 percent less CO2 (a larger cut than the Kyoto treaty mandates) and... 86 percent less nitrous oxide. [...] Berzin calculates that just one 1,000 megawatt power plant using his system could produce more than 40 million gallons of biodiesel and 50 million gallons of ethanol a year. That would require a 2,000-acre 'farm' of algae-filled tubes near the power plant. There are nearly 1,000 power plants nationwide with enough space nearby for a few hundred to a few thousand acres to grow algae and make a good profit, he says."  [ 01/17/06 ]

Lego Knitting Machine

» The Lego Knitting Machine. (Quicktime movie. [sound] ) (via rw [ 01/16/06 ]

Holophonic Sound

» Holophony. "It appears that Holophonic Sound waves stimulate our brains to reproduce very realistic and truly three dimensional sound within us, thereby stimulating other corresponding responses that our brains expect to accompany the sound, (like scents or other sensations). Even more interesting is the fact that researchers report that some hearing impaired people can 'hear' Holophonic Sound"  [ 01/12/06 ]



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