By Max Fischer
Posted 01.30.2012 at 11:59 am 7 Comments
While battery-powered yard tools are quiet, efficient and hassle free, they rarely pack the same power as their gas-consuming counterparts. But new electric yard tools with bigger batteries have muscle that rivals their gaseous brethren.
By Joseph A. Bernstein
Posted 01.30.2012 at 11:14 am 12 Comments
Yes, but no more than listening to Justin Bieber. The misconception that there’s something unique about Mozart’s ability to increase brainpower began in 1993, with a paper in Nature. Neurobiologists Gordon Shaw, Frances Rauscher and Katherine Ky of the University of California at Irvine found that students who listened to 10 minutes of a Mozart sonata demonstrated a temporary increase in spatial-temporal reasoning, as measured by an IQ test.
By Joshua Saul
Posted 01.27.2012 at 5:30 pm 3 Comments
Ed Adams, an engineering professor at Montana State University, used to study avalanches from inside a fortified shack. He would attach his shack to a boulder on a mountain, set small explosives in the snowpack, and trigger an avalanche, surrounding the shack.
By Kaitlin Miller
Posted 01.27.2012 at 11:30 am 22 Comments
Last year, the Austrian engineering firm IAT21 set out to construct a flying machine that floated like a hummingbird, traveled as fast as a jet, was as quiet as a hot-air balloon, and was simple enough that a car mechanic could repair it. The company’s working prototype, called D-Dalus, is roughly five feet by three feet square and can lift about 100 pounds. But the size and lift are not what’s most impressive.
In 1999, professors Robert Twiggs of Stanford University and Jordi Puig-Suari of California Polytechnic State University began to standardize the satellite business. They designed a small orbital unit-–a four-inch cube with little metal feet–-that was wide enough for solar cells, basing their design on a plastic display box for Beanie Babies. Their "CubeSat" had enough room for a computer motherboard and a few other parts necessary to do limited experiments in space, such as monitoring weather or photographing Earth.
By Amber Williams
Posted 01.24.2012 at 4:28 pm 21 Comments
Eighty-five years so far. The pitch-drop experiment—really more of a demonstration—began in 1927 when Thomas Parnell, a physics professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, set out to show his students that tar pitch, a derivative of coal so brittle that it can be smashed to pieces with a hammer, is in fact a highly viscous fluid. It flows at room temperature, albeit extremely slowly.
The tornado that destroyed my hometown was born in an otherwise unremarkable atmospheric collision over the American Central Plains. On May 22, 2011, a geostationary satellite 22,300 miles overhead recorded a large collection of cloud lines drifting over southeastern Kansas. At around 2 p.m, one of the cloud lines exploded, like a cartographic-scale dry-ice bomb.
When Siri debuted last October, it became the most intuitive voice-recognition software available. But Siri is more than just a speech-control app; it is a complete, artificially intelligent user interface. What Apple calls its “personal assistant” requires no programming and continually improves with use, as remote servers back up its ever-expanding vocabulary and understanding of natural conversation.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.