A vertical-takeoff concept commercial plane could get you in the air faster
By Michael BelfiorePosted 09.25.2008 at 5:50 pm 14 Comments
In this age of eternal flight delays, traveling from New York to Miami in the scheduled three hours sounds like a fantasy. Yet within a decade, aircraft designer Abe Karem plans to fix that by bypassing congested runways in his tilt-rotor, vertical-takeoff commercial plane, the AeroTrain. Sitting on a helipad with its twin rotors tilted straight up, the craft can take off vertically and fly like a helicopter. Once the plane has reached a safe altitude of 50 feet, the pilot will tilt the rotors forward and fly the craft like an airplane.
Since the invention of the transistor, silicon semiconductors have been king. But now silicon-based transistors are nearing the limit of their potential. Excess heat and manufacturing hurdles are impeding the development of ever-faster and -smaller processors. Advances in materials and chip design to resist extreme heat and move huge amounts of data, quickly, will be crucial. Experts are exploring three technologies to overcome these challenges: spintronics, graphene and memristors.
New backlighting tech helps LCD sets catch up to plasma’s color and contrast
By Sean CaptainPosted 09.25.2008 at 5:28 pm 2 Comments
Although they are starting to outsell plasma panels, LCD TVs have failed to impress true videophiles, who prefer plasma’s richer colors and deeper contrast. But Sony’s new XBR8 LCDs may have finally closed the quality gap.
Instead of using fluorescent tubes, Sony illuminates the screen with LEDs tuned to produce deeper shades of the red, green and blue that TVs mix to form colors. This allows it to match and possibly exceed plasma in the range of hues it can reproduce, going beyond even the current color palette in high-def TV broadcasts and Blu-ray movies.
Alan Burns made a fortune in the oil business. But as oil wanes, he’s convinced that clean energy will be—must be—the next big thing. And so this inventor has poured his fortune into a challenge far greater than finding new oil deposits: extracting energy from the ocean
Alan Burns breaks the surface with a huge grin on his face, his baggy black wetsuit hanging off his body like walrus skin. It's a scorching February afternoon, and we're floating in the clear blue water of the Indian Ocean. To our left is the Australian resort island of Rottnest. To our right—just beyond Burns's dazzling white yacht—is several thousand miles of open sea. And beneath us, the kelp forest where we had been diving moments before is swaying to the rhythm of the waves.
By John MahoneyPosted 09.23.2008 at 12:51 pm 1 Comment
To the unconverted, Twitter is just a way to deliver mundane details of your life to many friends at once. The free service(
Twitter.com) is a social-networking site in which you post updates, or “tweets,” to a page where friends who “follow” you can view them. But since it lets users post and receive tweets via text messages, it’s actually a powerful platform for getting things done on the go.
The phrase “passing the acid test” gained popularity in the gold-rush years of the 1850s when miners used strong acids to determine whether the metal they had found was real gold or not. If it bubbled and frothed on contact with acid, it wasn’t gold. But even these failures produced something interesting and beautiful.
When pure metals cool, they solidify into intricately interlocked crystals. You can’t see the crystals because they fit together perfectly to form what appears to be a uniform mass with a smooth, solid surface. But acid can reveal the structure inside.
In a lush pasture near Buenos Aires, this cow and its compatriots are digesting important information: how much methane—a greenhouse gas 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide—is released by the country's 55 million bovines. Researchers from Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology connected inflatable tanks to the cows' first stomach, where methane is made, through a small hole between their ribs.
Embryonic stem cells, which can be coaxed to turn into any kind of cell type, have been hailed as a 21st-century panacea. But they are fraught with ethical problems because they come from embryos. Last November, two teams of scientists turned ordinary adult skin cells into pluripotent stem cells—capable of becoming any kind of tissue—a feat that could solve the ethical problem forever. Here’s how one group did it.
French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote in 1960 that "sleep opens within us an inn for phantoms." Recent research agrees, finding that some sleepers shriek or even gorge themselves without knowing it. These sleep-disorder sufferers experience neural glitches that mix conscious and unconscious states. Scientists are now searching for the physiological underpinnings in hopes of developing better drug therapies.
Launch our gallery of the most bizarre parasomnias here.
Will Brinton, the founder of Woods End Laboratories, a bioenergy consultancy, predicts a future without landfills. Instead we'll use table scraps and sewage to power our homes. Just dump the waste into a household digester, and bacteria will break it down and release the natural gas methane. Farms could sell their copious poop-based energy supplies back to the grid. But how much energy do animals yield? We ran the numbers and found that you might want to consider a pet elephant.