In the nine years since the Humane Genome Project wrapped up, gene sequencing has gotten faster and cheaper at a pace rivaling the computer industry. Now a technology company in the UK has another breakthrough, taking a cue from the computer industry itself: A cluster of fast individual compute nodes, so easily scalable that the company made a USB-powered disposable version.
The goal is to democratize sequencing and eliminate the still-heady costs associated with genetic analysis, making DNA and protein sequencing as commonplace as an exam with a tongue depressor.
When I talked to Tanner Foust a few days before he attempted to break Johnny Greaves's 2009 four-wheel jump record of 301 feet, there was one question I had to ask: Really? The three-time X Games gold medalist, Hollywood stunt driver (Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift, Dukes of Hazzard, Bourne Ultimatum) and host of the History channel's Top Gear USA laughed. "Yeah. Why are we doing this? It looks daunting on paper, but when you break down the science – certain miles per hour over this distance, ramp like this – you just make sure you hit that mark and let physics do its job. For a jump like this, it's all just science."
Here at PopSci, there's nothing we love more than figuring out how something works, be it the latest technology, or a scientific breakthrough. That moment of discovery - let's call it a "how it works moment" - is almost as exciting for us buffs as it is for the researchers.
How the next generation of sensor-packed devices gather 70,000 data points per second to make cars safer for flesh-and-blood humans
By Rena Marie PacellaPosted 04.04.2011 at 10:54 am 0 Comments
In a typical day at General Motors Anthropomorphic Test Device (ATD) lab in Milford, Michigan, a crash-test dummy is decapitated, rammed in the chest, and contorted by a torsion machine, and that's just to set a baseline. Many safety innovations—crumple zones and smart airbags among them—are the result of such careful calibration. And with today's ATDs carrying up to 192 sensors, safety engineers can predict the risk of injury more accurately than ever before.
In honor of How It Works Month here at PopSci, please enjoy with us this elegantly done film explaining how a differential gear works. It dates from the 1930s, but BoingBoing reminded us how truly excellent it is.
One hitch in bringing 3-D motion pictures to home theaters has been the glasses—people hate them. Yet viewers have been enjoying motionless 3-D images unassisted since at least the 1960s. At that time, VariVue was printing postcards covered with a lenticular array that sent each eye a slightly different view. This year Toshiba demonstrated a similar kind of glasses-free 3-D display, and Nintendo released its 3DS. Instead of a lens, the 3DS uses a barrier to produce the stereoscopic effect.
Few people experience the adrenaline spike that a Formula One driver gets tearing down a straightaway at 230 mph. To bring that thrill to the masses, the owners of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi—the world's largest indoor theme park—built the Formula Rossa roller coaster, which opened last October.
It has become inevitable. A day or two after a high-profile gadget hits stores, two stories pop up on the gadget blogs, the tech sites and magazines: A review, and photos of the gadget taken apart, most often courtesy of a website called iFixit. The latest and most evolved actor in the storied history of "teardowns," iFixit is the logical conclusion of the entire idea of stripping a gadget down to its barest components, photographing and disseminating the findings. An iFixit teardown is at once a 21st-century repair manual, a work of art, an exhibition of a curiosity, and an activist gesture.