The Sahara, as well as other deserts around the world, is growing, in a process called desertification that ends up displacing people and crops. The situation has become drastic in a number of sub-Saharan countries. One suggestion from architect Magnus Larsson at the recent TED Global conference suggests constructing a massive wall, 3,700 miles long -- built from the sand itself. The trick would be to use bacterial labor to build it.
Right now the next baseball great may be warming up, not on a Little League diamond, but in a lab. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have pitted a robotic pitcher against a robotic batter to show that the robots can respond to each other at high speeds.
The pitcher is a three-fingered robot arm that was developed by the University's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology: it can open and close its fingers 10 times a second. This allows for precise pitching that lands in the strike zone 90 percent of the time. The batter is an arm developed by MIT that has a 1000-frame-per-second camera eye attached to detect incoming pitches.
The curl on the street today is pretty gnarly, brah
Ever feel ripped off that you can only surf or snowboard in the confines of the ocean or on a snowy mountain? The new Loop-In design concept hopes to allow you to shred out of those constraints. Looking like a surf-/snow-/skateboard hybrid attached to two gigantic hoop wheels, the In-Loop promises radical movement just about anywhere, dude.
The Loop-In is still only a concept at this point, based upon the often-theorized, rarely used, huge overhead hoop wheel. In the wild 1920s and '30s, Popular Science had a mania for predicting revolutionary transport concepts that incorporated similar wheels.
Note to our readers in Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands, it might suddenly get dark during the day today. Not to fear, for you and you alone are lucky enough to witness the year's only total solar eclipse.
According to a press release, scientists in Tianhuangping, China have already lauded the eclipse as it passed overhead, claiming “the diamond rings were spectacular” and citing that the cloud cover was perfect for watching the eclipse without special glasses (not recommended).
Let me introduce you to Flossie, the creepy motorcycle-driving robot. She will drive through scorching heat and freezing cold without a complaint. She will shift perfectly every time. She will haunt your dreams.
It seems increasingly rare to see a new gadget these days without a touchscreen. However, touchscreens' versatility is both the technology's biggest strength and its weakness. We've lost the tactile memory we associate with our television remote controls or old cell phones, where we knew and could feel exactly where the buttons we needed were without bothering to look. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are trying to combine the benefits of both, by adding a latex overlay on top of a touchscreen that inflates to create a tactile surface.
Last week, a fly-by of the moon showed impressions remaining on the surface from the Apollo 11 landing. That was 40 years ago, and those impressions linger on undisturbed. It's that longevity that one company wants to exploit, carving messages into the surface in the moon for the purpose of selling ad space.
For long-distance trips, the seeing-eye dog might soon be replaced by the seeing-eye car. Researchers on Virginia Tech's Blind Driver Team, with funding from the National Federation of the Blind, might soon give blind people the ability to do something they never thought possible: drive. The prototype "car" is actually a buggy equipped with lasers that judge the surrounding terrain.
We've told you about bike-sharing programs before, but the Hybrid2 design by Chiyu Chen takes the idea one step further, by using the bikes to put power back in the system. The idea is to put "ultracapacitors" into the bikes that will harness and store the kinetic energy generated by pedaling and braking. Once you return the bike to its rental kiosk, the energy stored in the bike will be transferred to the city's smart grid, and used to help power hybrid buses.