There’s nothing better than Guys’ Night, an evening of gaming or movies in my basement media room. The only trouble is when we (invariably) order pizza, because I can’t hear the doorbell from there. The solution: an inexpensive DIY digital surveillance system tied to Twitter.
By Katharine GammonPosted 12.10.2009 at 4:55 pm 0 Comments
About 20 percent of watermelons are left to rot in the field because they’re too blemished to sell in stores. Scientists from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service found that the unused fruit left on a harvested acre could produce about 24 gallons of bioethanol—fuel that could be poured back into farm equipment or sold on the open market, all without competing for land with food crops. This year, the group plans to start work on a mobile machine that could go from field to field harvesting castaway melons and turning them into fuel.
The Trend: Internet-connected energy monitors. They grab details on electric use from your wiring and send them to a Web site where you can analyze the data—and figure out how to save both watts and cash.
Why Now: Utilities keep promising “smart” electric meters that automatically provide real-time, online info, but most Americans still don’t have them. Now millions of stimulus dollars are inspiring companies to create and sell kits that add smart features to any ordinary meter.
Computers and power tools that charge as soon as you set them down
By Mark ByrnePosted 12.09.2009 at 5:16 pm 1 Comment
A table that automatically charges any laptop, gadget or even jigsaw that you place on it—that's the promise of wireless power, and it just got one step closer. Magnetic induction systems, which transmit electricity without jacks and ports, have finally gone beyond the electric toothbrush into big, high-wattage gear. The new Dell Latitude Z laptop and a prototype Bosch drill power up while resting on specialized docks, which plug into the wall. The docks generate an electromagnetic field, which is picked up by a coil in the device, charging the battery.
In September, Audi of America president Johan de Nysschen called the Chevy Volt a "car for idiots" and said that electric vehicles were "for the intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are." Audi must have felt the need to atone for the harsh words, because the following month the German carmaker announced that it would build the baddest electric car yet: the E-tron, an all-electric supercar that could go on sale in the U.S. in two to three years.
Dick Tracy, this is your year. Gadget makers have tried to re-create the 2-Way Wrist Radio before, but now they’ve finally managed to pack cell-phones into watches so sleek and func-
tional that you’d actually wear them.
Who needs the space shuttle? Take a tour inside the private space industry and its innovative, efficient plans to get astronauts into space when NASA retires its old ride
By Sam Howe VerhovekPosted 12.06.2009 at 11:13 am 30 Comments
The Final Countdown
October 15, 2009: Virgin Galactic's bullet-nosed rocket, SpaceShipTwo, sits in the hangar of Scaled Composites in Mojave, California, awaiting a paint job before its public debut in December. Click here to launch the gallery for a closer look at SpaceShipTwo under construction.
John B. Carnett
For a traveler heading up the highway toward the Mojave Air and Space Port, in the desert 70 miles north of Los Angeles, the surroundings are ghostly. Silent 747s and DC-10 jumbo jets from defunct airlines, along with smaller 727s and DC-9s, some cut up or resting on pylons, are visible from miles away, looking frozen and forlorn. Parked along the road at the airport entrance is a 1962 Convair 990, which began its life as an American Airlines jet airliner. Now the wind whistles through its nacelles and birds nest in its wheel wells.