Good news for the busy and the impatient: It’s easy to speed up your start-up. PC users can boot up within 15 seconds using new “instant-on” Linux software like Presto ($20) and Phoenix’s alternative OS, HyperSpace ($40 per year), both of which bypass Windows at start-up while still offering access to e-mail and other frequently used programs.
When Lisbeth Ceriani was diagnosed with breast cancer, she wanted a blood test to find out if she carried one of the two dreaded BRCA genes, which could increase her risk of ovarian cancer by up to 50 percent. She decided that if she were a carrier, she would have doctors remove her ovaries. But the sole purveyor of the BRCA tests, Utah-based Myriad Genetics, refused her insurance. Myriad holds the patent on the BRCA genes, and thus exclusive R&D rights, so there were no alternative tests, and Ceriani found herself unable to make a decision about her future health.
By William GurstellePosted 08.12.2009 at 10:18 am 0 Comments
I learned a lot of interesting scientific facts while writing Absinthe and Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously. Here are five ways to (safely) add a little danger to your life.
The challenge of growing twice as much food by 2050 to feed nine billion people—with less and less land—is everyone’s problem. But scientists are hard at work fomenting a second green revolution.
By Hilary RosnerPosted 08.07.2009 at 11:45 am 53 Comments
Today's crops crisscross the globe: Mexico's tomatoes end up on your plate, our wheat heads to Africa. As a result, the challenge of growing twice as much food by 2050 to feed nine billion people—with less and less land—is everyone's problem. But scientists are hard at work fomenting a second green revolution. Here's how nitrogen-spewing microbes, underground soil sensors and fruit-picking robots will help keep food on our tables.
The polymer fibers in flexible concrete help it resist 500 times as much stress as conventional concrete.
Courtesy Nicole Casal Moore/University of Michigan;
Researchers have known for decades that concrete fixes itself as cement particles near a small crack mix with air and water to form calcium carbonate. But some fractures are too big to heal on their own. Now engineers at the University of Michigan have mixed a new concrete formula with reinforcing glue-like fibers that hold it together under pressure, allowing only hair-width cracks that can mend after a rainy day. Available in a few years, the remixed concrete will cost more than the standard stuff, but less maintenance could make it cheaper in the long run.
Armed with better batteries and stronger materials, new submersibles aim to go deeper than ever before and open up the whole of the unexplored ocean to human eyes
By Abe StreepPosted 08.05.2009 at 12:46 pm 4 Comments
The Deep Flight II sub uses stubby wings that propel it down like an airplane goes up.
By liberal estimates, we've explored about 5 percent of the seas, and nearly all of that in the first 1,000 feet. That's the familiar blue part, penetrated by sunlight, home to the colorful reefs and just about every fish you've ever seen. Beyond that is the deep—a pitch-black region that stretches down to roughly 35,800 feet, the bottom of the Marianas Trench. Nearly all the major oceanographic finds made in that region—hydrothermal vents and the rare life-forms that thrive in the extreme temperatures there, sponges that can treat tumors, thousands of new species, the Titanic—have occurred above 15,000 feet, the lower limit of the world's handful of manned submersibles for most of the past 50 years.
Now engineers want to unlock the rest of the sea with a new fleet of manned submersibles. And they don't have to go to the very bottom to do it. In fact, only about 2 percent of the seafloor lies below 20,000 feet, in deep, muddy trenches. If we extend our current reach just 5,000 feet—another mile—it will open about 98 percent of the world's oceans to scientific eyes.
Nothing motivates like peer pressure, whether it’s friends goading you into one shot too many or friends tracking your power consumption on Twitter. That’s the thinking that led Limor Fried and PopSci contributing editor Phil Torrone, circuit wizards who run the electronics-kit seller adafruit.com, to cross a small power monitor with an XBee wireless home-automation module and a few lines of code.
By Suzanne LaBarrePosted 08.03.2009 at 10:59 am 21 Comments
Swine flu, nuclear tests, global warming—signs of impending doom abound. Should the unthinkable happen, the smart survivalist has two options: flee the planet or, for those of us who aren't Richard Branson, stock up on gear that will meet your basic needs during Armageddon. If the world doesn't end, you can always take your new gadgets camping.
It doesn't. That's what Coca-Cola's spokespeople say, anyway. "The great taste of Coca-Cola is the same regardless of the package it comes in," they insist. Rather, they say, "the particular way that people choose to enjoy their Coke can affect their perception of taste." Sure, most people would agree that the cola is indeed delicious and refreshing, and pouring it into a glass or serving it over ice could influence the sensation of its flavor.
In modern warfare, where missions are sometimes over in minutes, a blind enemy is a defeated enemy. The electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear weapon detonated miles aboveground would zap an army's surveillance equipment, but not without causing heavy collateral damage. Instead, a new Air Force tool will fry electronics using high-power microwaves emitted by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).