Working away here, I almost didnt notice the date: March 14, or 3/14. Its Pi Day, the offbeat holiday in celebration of our favorite mathematical constant, pi—a.k.a 3.14159, etc. Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler adopted the symbol, π, in 1737, but the concept has been in use since ancient Greece; its also known as Archimedes constant. Popular Pi Day activities include eating pie and listening to Kate Bushs song Pi, in which the singer musically recites 137 digits of the constant, leaving out the 79th through 100th decimal places along the way. The song is almost as difficult to listen to as pi is to derive. Heres a celebratory trivia question: Why was the Greek letter π chosen to represent this important mathematical constant, and who proposed it? Ill send an issue of Popular Science autographed by the soup vendor outside our office to the first person to answer correctly. (Enter your responses in the "Comments" section below, please.) —Joe Brown
Just got this in the personal inbox: an e-mail made to look like it's from the IRS and announcing a small refund, small enough that I nearly believed it and clicked through. But then I tried the old trick of hovering my mouse pointer over the link to reveal the real address. In this case, http://gateway.asoec.com.br/ ~andrea/caseid886432. Definitely not the IRS. Too bad; I could've used $63. Anyway, keep your eye out for IRS phishing scams this time of year. —Mike Haney
Talk about meta: Zoho Creator is a Web 2.0 application for creating Web 2.0 applications. Sound intimidating? It's not. There's no coding; everything is done through menus and buttons. And there are a number of premade apps—including an expense tracker, a dating-profile form and an app to sort your albums—that you can use as templates and then customize to fit your needs. You can share your final app with the world or keep it private. Check out the Expense Tracker I began futzing with here. —Mike Haney
The teeth of the MB471-316 machine, now under construction, are 85 rolling steel disc cutters meticulously arranged on a cutter face (also made of steel) that rotates up to seven times a minute. The cutters, each nearly two feet long, will be among the largest ever made for tunnel
digging. They spin freely to carve
concentric circles in the rock and produce more than 1,600 tons of
rubble an hour. The face of the drill contains a small door through which workers can crawl to replace the 15 or so cutters that wear out every day.
A spacecraft delivers rare samples of extraterrestrial dust to Earth. Now scientists need your help to study it
By Dawn StoverPosted 03.14.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
"We believe we have the Holy Grail," says Don Brownlee, the lead scientist for NASA's Stardust mission, in which a robotic spacecraft traveled nearly three billion miles to capture interstellar dust and comet particles and then flew back to Earth in a seven-year round-trip voyage. The touch-down this January in the Utah desert marked the first successful return of extraterrestrial material since 1976, when an unmanned Soviet probe last brought home moon rocks.
If cultured fish is fed with wild stock, are we doing more harm than good when we buy fresh from the farm?
By Jen TrolioPosted 03.14.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
The fact that nearly three quarters of the world's fisheries are dangerously close to depletion makes aquaculture seem like our only chance at meeting the ever-growing demand for seafood. But it takes fish to grow fish: Most of the fish meal used in today's aquaculture feed is made from small, oily specimens such as anchovies and sardines. A huge load of these "forage" fish-roughly a third of the global catch-is turned into fish meal every year. The Pew Ocean Commission estimates that it takes four pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of farmed fish. So what's the deal?
Transparent OLEDs could turn your living-room window into a high-def TV
By Elizabeth SvobodaPosted 03.13.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
Sleek, wall-mounted plasma screens might seem like viewing nirvana now, but what if a picture window could double as a flat-screen TV? Or what if your car´s GPS system could be displayed on your windshield? Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have invented a transparent OLED (organic light-emitting diode) that will allow just that, transforming any clear surface into a see-through display.
If you strike a pedestrian, this pyrotechnic-powered hood pops up to pack a softer punch
By Matthew PhenixPosted 03.10.2006 at 2:00 am 0 Comments
It sounds like something out of a Bond flick: a car with a hood that´s launched open by a pair of explosive charges. But Jaguar´s Pedestrian Deployable Bonnet System (PDBS) isn´t intended to thwart bad guys. Its purpose is to soften the impact on the unfortunate soul who gets hit by the European version of the 2007 Jaguar XK. PDBS is Jaguar´s response to new European Union legislation that requires automobiles to be gentler on pedestrians in the event of a collision (exploding hoods have not been greenlighted in the U.S.).