Late one night two years ago, Adam Munich found himself talking with two new acquaintances in a chatroom. One, a Pakistani guy, was complaining about rolling electricity blackouts in his country. The other had broken his leg in a motocross accident in Mexico and said his local hospital couldn't find a working x-ray machine. The two situations fused in Munich's mind; he wondered if a cheap, reliable, battery-powered x-ray machine existed—something that could be used in remote areas and function without being plugged in during blackouts. After discovering that the answer was no, he spent two years building one himself out of Nixie tubes, old art suitcases, chainsaw oil, and electronics from across the globe. It was an incredibly ambitious project for anyone, let alone a 15-year-old.
Being a mad scientist can be a thankless job, but every once in a while you get a chance to shine—literally. I recently had that opportunity when working with a TV show to film one of the most beautiful of all chemical phenomena, the cold luminosity of white phosphorus.
By Vanessa DopkerPosted 05.15.2012 at 10:45 am 22 Comments
That depends. Dogs aren't linguists, but they have remarkably good social cognition skills. Daniel Povinelli, a psychologist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, tested dogs' ability to read cues from people. He placed a reward (a scrap of food, for example) under one of two buckets while the dog was out of sight, and he masked both buckets with an odor.
Barb Stuckey hands me a plastic tray of mashed potatoes sealed with an opaque layer of film. “We packaged these up over a year ago,” she says. The United States Potato Board has asked Stuckey and her colleagues at Mattson, a commercial food lab in Foster City, California, to devise a way to put fresh, ready-to-eat mashed potatoes into a package that can sit unrefrigerated on a supermarket shelf for months. Just open, warm, and serve.
The largest nation on Earth is flying more people more places than ever before. Its struggle to do so without (further) destroying the environment could show the rest of the world a greener way to travel
By James FallowsPosted 05.08.2012 at 10:01 am 6 Comments
When discussing any environmental issue in China, it's always a struggle to decide which deserves more emphasis: how dire the situation is, or how hard Chinese authorities are trying to cope with it. China's skies, waters and even sources of food are some of the most poisonously contaminated on Earth. Its efforts to curtail pollution and develop cleaner energy sources are some of the world's most ambitious.
By Scott AlexanderPosted 05.04.2012 at 3:33 pm 25 Comments
When Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo introduces a new videogame console, its obsolescence within six years is more or less assumed. Nintendo is likely to release the new Wii U later this year, and other console makers are rumored to be working on next-generation systems. But as early adopters line up to experience whatever new high-def graphics those systems may offer, the next-next generation of console is already gaining momentum.
By John VoelckerPosted 05.04.2012 at 2:12 pm 8 Comments
At the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, the start-up Fisker Automotive unveiled its Karma concept , a high-end plug-in hybrid the company would use to challenge Tesla Motors. Cofounder Henrik Fisker said the Karma would go on sale in late 2009. Then the recession, a switch in battery suppliers and other delays kept Fisker from shipping the first trickle of cars until late last year.
Rain and snow aren't the only things to fall from the sky. Throughout history rare occurrences have been recorded of other less expected and surprising forms of deluge. In 2001, parts of India were showered with mysterious red particles that were thought to contain alien microbes.
Remote-control jets have never performed particularly well. Their engines are less efficient than exposed propellers at an R/C plane's speed, which makes the toys sluggish and difficult to steer, leading to crashes. To compensate for the lack of power, engineers at toy manufacturer Great Planes reduced the weight of their F-86 craft to 2.35 ounces—30 percent lighter than any comparably sized R/C jet. With less mass to maneuver, the F-86 flies faster, turns quicker, and allows pilots to do loops and rolls.