Inspired by designs created by his father decades ago, Jared Potter is building an arsenal of ultra-powerful flame-jet drills. As seen in the NatGeo video above, one prototype directs a jet of burning hydrogen at 3200°F against a slab of solid granite.
The Big Picture: Ethanol is the most widely used biofuel today, but it's hardly a panacea to our energy woes. Researchers are scrambling to transform more- efficient organic materials — switchgrass, sugarcane, algae, sewage and even medical waste — into low-emission fuel for both transportation and electricity generation.
Hybrid cars may be a favorite among commuters looking to save fuel, but they're yet to appear on a single driving enthusiast's bucket list. It's no secret why: A 2009 Prius gets from zero to 60 mph barely faster than a plumber's van.
How do you make hybrid cars a little rougher on the adrenal glands without sacrificing the good fuel economy and low emissions? Engineers at Austrian tech firm AVL took a page from the motorsports playbook, using a turbocharger to boost the performance of a standard gas-electric hybrid.
There must be too many local fishermen out for pleasure cruises at night through eel-infested waters. European eels are in crisis, their numbers mysteriously plummeting in the last decades.
Also in today's links: farting machines, death via LHC and more.
Getting his computer stolen was the most fun thing ever to happen to this guy, who sounds like a bit of a tech geek. Thanks to a remote-access program he'd installed, he was able to screw with the thief's head, while gathering info to help the police track the guy down.
Also in today's links: hungry badgers feed on a lawn, malnourished plants feed on human hair, and more.
Wind, solar, tidal—all are battling for the renewable-energy crown, but what about the six billion highly efficient short-stroke engines in our midst? What about us?
By Bruce GriersonPosted 03.06.2009 at 10:58 am 8 Comments
Cave Junction, Oregon, was once, long ago, the center of a gold rush boom that, like so many booms, ultimately consumed its host. Prospectors mined the land around the towns in an ever-tightening circle, until the only gold left was below the saloons, assayers and burlesque halls. Those fell next. The towns were mined right out from under themselves—with no trace left of the old frontier burgs but scars in the earth.
Researchers take a first step toward harnessing the small energy sources found in cages around the world
By M. FarbmanPosted 02.23.2009 at 12:18 pm 5 Comments
Researchers believe they have conducted the first instance of an animal producing current with nano-generators, by harnessing the power of exercising hamsters. Plus -- the answer to the question that has weighed on the greatest minds for generations: how many hamsters does it take to power a cell phone?
Also in today's links: where American ideas come from, where methane in the Arctic is going, and more.
Raise your hand if you're heard about clean coal. Now keep your hand up if you know what the hell it is. Still up? You're better off than I was before I started digging into this.
It's been all over the news, and in countless political speeches, so we know clean coal is popular. It's in the new economic stimulus package to the tune of $2.4 billion. And its first pilot project was canceled last year after costs accelerated out of control, so we know clean coal is expensive. But what else is it, really...?
After the jump, a short primer in comic form.
The human body contains enormous quantities of energy. In fact, the average adult has as much energy stored in fat as a one-ton battery. That energy fuels our everyday activities, but what if those actions could in turn run the electronic devices we rely on? Today, innovators around the world are banking on our potential to do just that.
In José Saramago's novel Blindness, when an epidemic of sightlessness sweeps the city, among the foulest signs of civic breakdown is its inability to handle its own excrement. Human waste piles where it lands, left to the elements and not modern plumbing. To newly minted industrial designer Virginia Gardiner, we might as well be blind to our own waste. Her plumbing-free toilet project, the Gardiner CH4, makes us personally responsible for our intimate product—and makes it useful.