Brian Henson, whose father, Jim, created the Muppets, wasn't always convinced that he would go into the family business. "I went through a spell in my teenage years where I absolutely was going to be an astrophysicist," he admits. Now the co-CEO of the Jim Henson Company is channeling that early love of the stars into a new show, Sid the Science Kid, that's designed to inspire preschoolers to question and reason like real scientists.
In Terrafugia's Transition driving airplane, the canard wing doubles as the front bumper.
John B. Carnett
The Transition is not a flying car. The vehicle, set to go on sale next year, will cruise smoothly on the road and through the sky. It will have four wheels, Formula One–style suspension, and a pair of 10-foot-wide wings that fold up when it switches from air to asphalt. And when the engineers at Terrafugia in Woburn, Massachusetts, let me sit inside their just-finished proof-of-concept vehicle and grab the steering wheel, it's easy to imagine piloting this thing up and out of traffic, into the open skies.
An innovative personal flying vehicle tests successfully and gives renewed hope for a Jetsons-like future
By Gregory MonePosted 07.29.2008 at 1:20 pm 23 Comments
Today marked the public debut of the Martin Jetpack, a ducted-fan-equipped personal flying vehicle that could keep pilots aloft for 30 minutes or more. Inventor Glenn Martin has been working on the jetpack—which isn't technically a "jet" pack, given the fans—for 27 years, but he has kept it secret until now. Even his son, Harrison, the 16-year-old test pilot, wasn't allowed to tell his friends that he'd been cruising around the yard back home in Christchurch, New Zealand in a revolutionary flying vehicle.
A physicist in Congress weighs in on electronic voting, missile defense and why politicians tend to ignore science
By Gregory MonePosted 07.11.2008 at 1:20 pm 10 Comments
Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey has served in Congress for a decade, but he’s not your average politico. The physicist is a five-time Jeopardy champion, an inventor of a solar collector, an arms-control expert and a former assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. He likes to pop into science conferences so that he can drop terms like “impedance matching” and not catch weird stares.
Google’s mobile guru, Rich Miner, describes what it takes to make a phone truly open-source
By Gregory MonePosted 06.10.2008 at 12:35 pm 4 Comments
When Google squelched rumors of the all-powerful "G-phone" last November, we admit we were a bit bummed. Instead of an inexpensive smartphone that would free us from our carrier overlords, Google had been working on software—an open-source, mobile operating system called Android. Great name, but will unlocking cellphone code really change things for consumers?
Miner says that more than 750,000 developers have downloaded the tool required to write an Android-based program, four times as many as accessed the iPhone's tightly regulated kit. That means Android users could have far more mobile applications to choose from. But we still don't know how those apps will stack up next to Apple's. Android-equipped phones—set to go on sale this summer—should be less expensive than the iPhone, since manufacturers won't have to pay licensing fees for the software. But instead of getting free, ad-subsidized service, like Google's e-mail, you'll still shell out to carriers. Which makes us wonder: Is this really so new, or just another offering in the crowded mobile market? We spoke with Rich Miner, head of Google's mobile-platform division, for some clarity.
Reports surface that a group of the animals acted strangely prior to the big quake
By Gregory MonePosted 05.23.2008 at 10:09 am 2 Comments
The death toll from the Sichuan earthquake is reportedly upwards of 55,000 at this point. Many survivors are living outside, in tents, afraid that aftershocks will topple their homes. But officials are also trying to care for the animal population, sending food to the animals at the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center, which is just about 20 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.
Wall-climbing technique now used for robots could lead to tech that allows soldiers, window washers to scale sheer surfaces, too
By Gregory MonePosted 05.23.2008 at 9:55 am 2 Comments
There are a whole range of scenarios, from security- or surveillance-related situations to natural disasters, in which it could be really useful to have a robot that can climb walls. But the idea gets so much traction because it's also just flat-out cool.
Federal forecasters issue a prediction for the upcoming storm season, but caution that they could be wrong
By Gregory MonePosted 05.23.2008 at 9:41 am 4 Comments
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced yesterday that 2008 could be a busy hurricane season. Between twelve and 16 storms may be big enough to earn names, and six to nine should be intense enough to be qualified as hurricanes. And of those, two to five could be major.
ESA's COROT observatory discovers two more exoplanets, plus a strange new object astronomers can't quite explain
By Gregory MonePosted 05.22.2008 at 9:07 am 4 Comments
ESA astronomers announced this week that they've discovered two more exoplanets, or planets outside our solar system, using the space-based COROT observatory. The two new finds are Jupiter-sized gas giants that orbit close to their parent stars.
But the astronomers also reported that COROT has picked up another object that they can't quite explain. This space oddity, COROT-exo-3b, looks to lie somewhere between a brown dwarf and a planet. It may even be a star, though if that's the case, scientists say it would be among the smallest ever detected.