As you have heard (by now, ad nauseum), the protests surrounding Iran’s troubled and disputed presidential election this past Friday have highlighted how technology and social media are redefining the way moments of mass political unrest are reported, live. Instead of watching CNN, you can observe the same on-the-ground reporting--all in real time--that the CNN folks are watching and then passing on to you. Here's where to find it.
New "smart" electricity meters, beginning to be rolled out across the country, may be rife with bugs that could pose security risks. The new meters create a smart communication network between the user and the local power plant. The software that powers some of the smart meters, however, is coming under fire from security experts for its lack of adequate protections against malicious hacks.
Getting thwacked by a meteorite and surviving seems almost impossible, but don't tell that to 14-year-old Gerrit Blank. While walking to school in his hometown of Essen, Germany, a "ball of light" seared a 3-inch scar into his hand before hitting the ground.
A small kibbutz in Israel has installed the world's first solar-hybrid power plant to fulfill all their energy needs. Composed of 30 solar reflectors and one kooky-looking "flower" tower, the plant can switch to gas-powered turbines after dark to keep the system producing power 24-hours a day. The best part is that the plant takes up a relatively small amount of space for its output and can power remote areas that are not connected to larger grids.
If a plug and socket could communicate, what would they say? Would they discuss how much energy is needed to power a device? Would they tell each other when there's a risk of an overload? Would they prevent themselves from being used improperly? At John La Grou's recently released TED presentation, he explains the benefits of his big idea: an ingeniously simple way of getting a plug and socket to talk to each other.
Mowing the lawn may not be the most glamorous chore, but Husqvarna's new concept mower might change the image of grass grooming forever. Powered by a fully electric and rechargeable lithium phosphate battery, the mower can zip along for 2 grass-decapitating hours.
Top Gun training in Fightertown USA might become obsolete thanks to a new ultra-high definition, immersive F-16 training program. Powered by 120 Intel Dual Core PCs packed with high-end graphics cards, nine overlapping HD projectors display the highest-res flight simulator possible. Creating a stunning 30,000 interactive images in a single simulation, L-3 Link's SimuSphere offers a realistic training tool for the military that will hopefully lead to a smaller home version for me.
"Programmable matter" is such a far-out concept that it’s difficult to imagine it even existing outside the movies. But, thanks to some creative work done by scientists funded by DARPA (who else?), it might actually become a reality, creating materials that can be programmed to alter themselves at the molecular level into various shapes and then disassemble to form entirely new ones.
Since the airship glory days of the early part of the century, blimps have certainly lost some of their cachet, relegated to hovering over sporting events and not much else. However, the Army is about to test launch an unmanned hybrid airship to be used for surveillance missions in Afghanistan.