In an effort to outmaneuver the law enforcement entities that have pursued its swashbuckling operation across the land, the Pirate Bay is looking to the skies. In a blog post yesterday, the Bay’s MrSpock said that in an effort to keep its front machines--the ones that redirect your illicit traffic to servers in a secret location--one step ahead of the law, the organization is going to try to build a network of traffic-relaying aerial drones.
Warfighters have plenty of eyes in the sky, with a massive drone fleet and a satellite network that can spot their locations on the ground. But satellites are only helpful when they’re overhead, and battlefield situations can’t wait for orbital physics. To solve this problem, DARPA wants a swarm of cheap satellites nestled between the big ones up above and the aerial drones down below.
From the agency that created the Internet to the company that arguably controls it — there's some nice symmetry in the news that DARPA chief Regina Dugan is heading over to Google. She is leaving the defense agency to assume a senior executive position at the web giant, according to DARPA.
Siri’s ability to speak and recognize various languages is impressive, but Microsoft is not to be outdone. Microsoft Research labs has demoed a new prototype software that could be the next big step toward a so-called “universal translator” device, one that can instantly flip one language into another and back again so a conversation can be carried on between two people even when neither can understand the other’s language.
The future of seaports could be not having any seaports at all. At least that’s the vision of Jeremy Wiley, founder of Tethered Air. Wiley envisions a system of robot cranes tethered to huge heavy-lifting balloons that could deployed anywhere to ferry shipping containers or other heavy cargo from ship to shore, or vice versa. Such systems would be relatively inexpensive, he says, and could create a near-instant seaport just about anywhere water meets the land.
NASA may no longer possess a reusable vehicle for traveling to and from low earth orbit, but the United States Air Force has all but established a permanent presence up there. Maybe you’ve forgotten about the X-37B, the USAF’s pilotless, reusable space plane that’s been in orbit since launching on March 5, 2011, but it’s still up there making laps.
Want to be the kind of person who causes entire rooms to fall silent when you enter? Researchers from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tskuba and Ochanomizu University in Japan have created a speech jamming gun that takes the words right out of speakers’ mouths using a clever trick of psychology.
China usually holds its military hand very close to the vest--that, or things “mysteriously” leak that it doesn’t (does) want the world to know about--so we’re left to wonder why the People’s Republic has decided to publish this in the journal Advanced Materials Research. Nonetheless, it’s pretty interesting. Chinese navy researchers have plans for a new submarine hunting scheme that uses ship-launched UAVs running genetic algorithms.
The Department of Homeland Security is carefully watching the internet. They search through publications like this one (actually, specifically this one: we've been on the DHS watch-list for awhile), as well as all of our public social media lives, for possible "Items of Interest," which they find by searching for a whole bunch of sometimes-ridiculous keywords. (Animal New York rounded up a bunch of them.) It got us wondering: We write about a lot of security and military stuff here at PopSci. What's the DHS reading on our site?
The Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) is dead after a long battle with Pentagon budgetary priorities and Congress. ALTB is best remembered for being a far-out directed-energy beam missile defense interceptor that dodged cancellation by the SecDef himself in 2010 by successfully zapping a test missile from the sky, earning it $40 million more and a new lease on life.
Presenting at Google’s “Solve for X” gathering, a Utah startup has unveiled a spray-on antenna that improves signals by anything, just about anywhere, into a signal array. Using a novel nanoparticle spray, Chamtech Enterprises demonstrated how their product can be used on all kinds of materials--trees, walls, fabrics--and in all kinds of environments, even underwater.
At PopSci we’ve always got our eyes to the future, but every now and then we have to pause and take a look back at the giants on whose shoulders we stand--especially when those giants stand nine stories tall, weigh 16 million pounds, and exert 50,000 tons of pressure. The Fifty--pictured above--is one of ten machines built in the 1950s as part of a U.S.
First commercial pilots started getting iPads, and now military pilots want in — the U.S. Air Mobility Command is planning to buy up to 18,000 iPad 2 tablets “or equal devices,” replacing heavy flight bags that pilots use to stow their charts and other flight materials. The devices will apparently be used on the C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster. The Air Force Special Ops Command is also planning to buy 2,861 iPad 2s for its crews.
Here at PopSci, we’ve been fascinated by Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog ever since it was an adorable robotic puppy that couldn’t even open its eyes. Now that the technology is all grown up, repackaged, and rechristened the Legged Squad Support System (or LS3), its eyes are very much open--and fixed firmly on the soldier in front of it.
“The Secret Service is going to be mad at me about this.” And with due cause, Mr. President, for we’re pretty sure projectile weapons are prohibited in the State Dining Room of the White House. Nonetheless, an exception was made yesterday as President Obama hosted the second White House Science Fair, where he surveyed more than 30 student projects, cracked jokes with youngsters and the press, and--most notably--participated in a demo of 14-year-old Joey Hudy’s “Extreme Marshmallow Cannon.” Which is exactly what it sounds like.
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.