By Onur Kilic, as told to Flora LichtmanPosted 09.15.2011 at 10:10 am 6 Comments
Ocean research, navigation, seafloor mapping, object-tracking (sonar, for example)—they all rely on sound, which is still the best way to transmit information through water. So we wanted to build the ultimate hydrophone, one that could listen to the quietest sounds and the loudest sounds and could work anywhere, even six miles underwater, where the atmospheric pressure is 1,000 times as much as it is up top. Whale ears were our inspiration.
For a decade now, the editors of Popular Science have been seeking out promising young researchers at labs across the nation, and for a decade we've been dazzled by the intelligence and creativity of the people we've discovered. This year's honorees, like the 90 others before them, represent the best of what science can achieve. Some are looking for specific solutions to daunting social problems, such as how to manufacture more-effective drugs or cheaply diagnose diseases in developing nations.
I relocated my shop recently, and packing it up reminded me that years of building have left me with an awful lot of tools. Many of them are very specialized—and in some cases, pretty obscure to the average DIYer—but they’re the ones I always reach for.
12-VOLT TEST LIGHT
A very simple tool that manages to take the guesswork out of jobs like debugging a vehicle electrical system. Ground the clip, and touch parts of the system with the tip. When the light comes on, you have power.
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 09.04.2011 at 6:08 pm 3 Comments
Powered by pneumatic solenoid valves and an Arduino microcontroller, a fire-breathing dragon will be appearing in Marin County, California, on October 31. The project began last year, when the now 17-year-old Sam DeRose and his 16-year-old friend Alex Jacobson teamed up with their fathers, Tony and David, to design a robotic version of the friendly dragon Saphira from the Eragon fantasy novel and movie.
A case in which the conventional wisdom is scientifically inaccurate
By Gordon Mah UngPosted 09.04.2011 at 5:48 pm 0 Comments
Laptop computers used to run on nickel-cadmium batteries, which experienced the "memory effect," where they lost capacity over time if recharged before they were drained. That's no longer the case. Newer laptops use lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries. Repeatedly discharging the battery to zero doesn't help a lithium-ion; in fact, it will probably shorten its overall life and capacity.
Hunting the world's most wanted man for school credit
By Paul Kvinta and Madhumita VenkataramanaPosted 09.04.2011 at 2:58 pm 0 Comments
In 2008, students in Tom Gillespie's geography class at the University of California at Los Angeles were floating ideas for class projects. One student wanted to calculate changes in the size of refugee camps in Sudan. Another figured he could gauge the effectiveness of the military surge in Iraq by looking at aerial images of Baghdad at night. To execute these projects, the students planned to employ the methodologies and systems Gillespie had been teaching them about, primarily geographic information systems (GIS), remote-sensing and GPS.
At least half of the 265 million people worldwide who play soccer live in developing regions, where electricity can be scarce. The sOccket, designed and distributed by New York–based nonprofit Uncharted Play, is a regulation-size ball that converts kicks and headers into off-the-grid power. With it, two hours of play produces enough wattage to light an LED for at least a night.
By Mark AndersPosted 09.03.2011 at 11:57 pm 2 Comments
Riding man-made surf typically means catching choppy, underwhelming swells in short five-to-10-second spurts. A project known as the Kelly Slater Surf Park, designed in partnership with its 10-time world-champion namesake, generates currents that provide surfers with rides of a full minute or longer. Waves form at the outer edge of the five-million gallon circular tank and break as they run up the pool floor, which mimics the seabed as it approaches shore. The pools may appear in such locations as resorts and theme parks, and can be scaled up or down to cater to available space.
A breathable water-repellent sweatshirt, the first solar smartphone in America, a single oven with the power of two and much more
By Sarah Fecht, Nick Statt, Madhumita VenkataramanaPosted 09.03.2011 at 11:36 pm 0 Comments
Every month we search far and wide to bring you a dozen of the best new ideas in gear. These gadgets are the first, the best and the latest. Check out the gallery below to get the first look at what consumer technology has brought us this month.