By Andrew Rosenblum
Posted 02.21.2011 at 11:37 am 2 Comments
Gambling just to win silver coins can get boring. Instead, play for a perfectly crafted cocktail. The BarBot was built by a team from the hacker collective NYC Resistor as part of a hacking competition co-sponsored by the videocontent company VIMBY and the carmaker Scion. The group started by buying a decommissioned slot machine from Japan on Craigslist. They added graphics to give it a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas theme, figuring that would be the perfect way to tie together gambling and booze.
We’re always suckers for a good art/science mashup, so perhaps it’s no surprise that we’re feeling pretty good about today’s release of the 2010 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge winners. This year’s winning entries included
the most detailed 3-D model of the HIV virus ever made (above), a sweeping infographic primer on the many ways fungi impact our lives, and a non-interactive media project that tracked 3,000 pieces of garbage from their origins in Seattle to destinations across the U.S.
Based on shipwreck-salvage technology, the SARbot will fish you out
By Bjorn Carey
Posted 02.08.2011 at 12:01 pm 2 Comments
Things get very bad, very quickly for people in cold water. Just minutes after total submersion, heart and brain activity stop. But the cold also protects. If rescuers can reach a drowning victim in less than 90 minutes, it’s possible to resuscitate, often with no long-term ill effects. Inspired by this fact, Duncan Winsbury, a former station manager at the Fire & Rescue Service in Derbyshire, England, set out to build a robot that could find and retrieve cold-water drowning victims fast.
Constructing the cosmos isn’t easy. There are a lot of moving parts to keep in mind, ranging from the astronomically large to the infinitesimally small. But in a plain campus building on the northern fringe of the University of Illinois, Robert Patterson hurtles through a galaxy he and his colleagues created, checking and re-checking his path to account for both physics and physiology. After all, he wants to create an authentic voyage through the universe, but he doesn’t want to make anyone's stomach turn.
By Erika Villani
Posted 10.14.2010 at 4:06 pm 0 Comments
For most of history, people have divided the Earth’s motion around the sun into finer and finer units in pursuit of more accurate timekeeping. In 1967, humanity officially adopted a new method: counting atomic oscillations. Specifically, this means measuring the frequency of the photons absorbed or emitted by an atom’s electrons as those electrons gain or lose energy. These photons oscillate as reliably as Earth orbits the sun, but at much higher frequencies than once a year.
We talked to the Spitzer Space Telescope's visualization team about the challenges and rewards of rendering the mission's reams of non-visual data into something that catches the public eye. Plus: a gallery of their all-time favorite works
In a shared office on the southern edge of Caltech’s campus, Robert Hurt and Tim Pyle are making art out of science. Armed with the industry standards–Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects–it’s their job to break down the Spitzer Space Telescope’s complex scientific data into visualizations that are accessible and meaningful to the average viewer. But their artistic challenge is unique: Human eyes have never seen the objects they are creating.
This 18-inch off-roader is made for play. But it packs an engine, starter and sensor system that are just like a real racecar’s—at a tenth of the size
By Eric Adams
Posted 05.03.2010 at 10:22 am 12 Comments
Gas-powered remote-control cars provide realistic racing fun. They burn a gasoline-like fuel called nitro (made of methanol, nitromethane and lubricant) with miniature internal combustion engines. Losi's Ten-T gets even more authentic by adding a starter that works like a diesel engine's. Nitro cars are usually hard to start: You have to pick them up, use a hand-held motor to spin the engine, and simultaneously work the remote's throttle. With the Ten-T you just hit "start" on the remote.
Bosch reinvents the common nailer, making a smaller tool with the nail-driving power of the big guns
By Max Fischer
Posted 04.05.2010 at 9:55 am 1 Comment
Pneumatic nailers can slash the time it takes to fasten everything from window trim to roof rafters. The basic guts of the tool haven’t changed since the 1960s: Compressed air pushes a piston that drives a rod, forcing nails deep into wood, before the tool resets for the next nail. Now Bosch has figured out how to make a nailer that’s 20 percent smaller while boosting power by 10 percent, so it can drive nails into hard woods like walnut with less pressure than other guns.
A massive floating laboratory is attempting to drill through four miles of seabed to take samples of the Earth’s mantle
By Rena Marie Pacella
Posted 04.01.2010 at 3:37 pm 21 Comments
The world’s deepest drill is about to get taller—tall enough to dig into Earth's mantle. Already, the Chikyu research vessel is capable of fetching samples at depths of 23,000 feet below the seabed, two to four times that of any other drill. In 2007, off the coast of Japan, it became the first mission to study subduction zones, the area between tectonic plates that is the birthplace of many earthquakes. Over the next three years, scientists will tack on at least an extra mile of drill and attempt the most ambitious mission ever: piercing the Earth’s mantle.
It’s midnight. You’re a cop patrolling the wrong side of town when you spot a mugging. The assailant is about 40 feet away, out of range of your stun gun. You shout, but he darts down an alley. It’s a dead end. The crook picks up a bottle, hurls it at your head, and makes a break for the street. You draw your gun.
Our annual How it Works issue is now available, wherein we strip 13 amazing machines of their skins to marvel at what lies beneath. For anyone interested in science and technology, it's a natural tendency, almost a reflex: let's open this thing up and see what makes it tick. Maybe we can put it back together, and then again maybe not.
Of course, we've been doing this here at PopSci for over a century. Here we've combed the archives for some of our favorite "How It Works" articles over the years. And there are some gems.
To take advantage of the strong winds that blow over the ocean, this gearless turbine uses a giant ring of magnets and 176-foot blades
By Rena Marie Pacella
Posted 03.26.2010 at 10:44 am 40 Comments
There’s enough wind energy along our coastlines to power the country four times over, and the race is on to build the best offshore turbines to capture it. Manufacturers worldwide are experimenting with two techniques: ever-longer blades to harness more gusts, and simplified drivetrains (including new generators) that slash the need for costly repairs at sea. GE’s upcoming machine, slated to go online in 2012, will combine both into one package.
A robotic rocket that can repeatedly take off and land vertically would have endless uses: As a lunar lander that can park itself at a fuel station, gas up, and immediately relaunch to ferry supplies elsewhere on the moon. Or as a space-tourism craft that can touch down safely on helicopter-like landing pads. That’s why four years ago, NASA opened the $1-million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, a competition designed to encourage private companies to develop low-cost rockets with the precision, power and quick turnaround needed for moon and other missions.
Flashlight: Surefire’s military-grade torch shines more than 500 yards, even though it’s not much bigger than your hand. Its LED combines four light-emitting chips on one circuit board, instead of giving each its own electronics and case. The result is a concentrated yet efficient beam. A processor regulates power to run for 100 minutes on high, 500 on low. SureFire M3LT $450; surefire.com
A piece of plastic the size of a credit card, combined with a book-size gadget, can diagnose as many deadly diseases as big laboratory machines can—but quickly, cheaply and in remote locations
By Amber Angelle
Posted 03.23.2010 at 6:28 pm 1 Comment
Most blood tests require shipping vials off to a lab, followed by several days of nail biting. This kit, one of the first that can diagnose multiple diseases on the spot, shrinks an entire lab into a two-piece portable package that even novices can use. A disposable, $1 plastic card, formed through injection molding, holds miniature versions of test tubes and chemicals. In place of technicians or $100,000 machines, a battery-powered, $100 gadget mixes the molecules.
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.