Calling a lithe, sniffing robot a "ferret" raises hopes that it'll be rather cuter than the mockup pictured, but the cargo-screening device in development has capabilities that outshine its aesthetic shortcomings. Though still in its beginning stages -- working prototypes will be ready in about two years -- this robot could revolutionize airport and seaport security by serving as an all-in-one drug, weapon, explosive, and illegal-stowaway detection powerhouse.
Ever suspect that someone is poking into your stuff when you're not at home? Or that instead of taking care of the kids the babysitter is doing you-know-what? Or that Spot only pretends she can't stand on her hind legs and talk when you're around? Then you might want invest in one of the new spybots on the market. (That, or get your head checked.)
Behold Huia cavitympanum: the only frog species that can communicate through ultrasonic calls too high-pitched for humans to hear. Two scientists made the discovery by camping out with recording devices in the frog's native island of Borneo. Bonus points go to the guy who was "bitten by leeches and woke up several mornings soaked in blood."
Also in today's links: a reason to switch up your music, what to do with too many chicken feathers, and more.
Getting his computer stolen was the most fun thing ever to happen to this guy, who sounds like a bit of a tech geek. Thanks to a remote-access program he'd installed, he was able to screw with the thief's head, while gathering info to help the police track the guy down.
Also in today's links: hungry badgers feed on a lawn, malnourished plants feed on human hair, and more.
British government officials are planning to deploy search-engine optimization in their war on terror, working with certain Muslim groups to push "positive" depictions of Islam up in the Google rankings.
Also in today's links: watching your kids like a hawk, living like a pig, and more.
On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Canadian researchers had uncovered a vast computer network, based out of China, dedicated to conducting cyber-espionage. According to the Times, the researchers began their investigation at the behest of the Dalai Lama, who worried that the Chinese were spying on him and his computers.
Turn up your sound and chemist Gerard Harbison will explain it all. The tiny white thing sitting in front of the orange water balloon contains a mere 1/60th of an ounce of triacetone triperoxide (TATP), the chosen detonator of would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid. (Note: TATP is still explosive when it's wet, so it's probably one of the reasons for the TSA's draconian rules about liquids.)
Add a 9-volt battery and KABOOM.
But there's good news.
Listen in as Popular Science editors and writers discuss how the internet requires, surprisingly, constant physical maintenance
By Popular Science StaffPosted 03.18.2009 at 12:00 pm 1 Comment
While we may connect to the 'net wirelessly and painlessly, maintaining the thousands of miles of undersea and buried cable -- and the rest of the net's physical infrastructure -- is a huge task. In this episode of Cocktail Party Science, host Chuck Cage sits down with Deputy Editor Jake Ward and Who Protects the Internet? author James Geary to discuss the protection of the internet in its physical form.
Download the episode here, or subscribe to the iTunes feed.
For the past five years, John Rennie has braved the towering waves of the North Atlantic Ocean to keep your e-mail coming to you. As chief submersible engineer aboard the Wave Sentinel, part of the fleet operated by U.K.-based undersea installation and maintenance firm Global Marine Systems, Rennie--a congenial, 6'4", 57-year-old Scotsman--patrols the seas, dispatching a remotely operated submarine deep below the surface to repair undersea cables. The cables, thick as fire hoses and packed with fiber optics, run everywhere along the seafloor, ferrying phone and Web traffic from continent to continent at the speed of light.
The cables regularly fail. On any given day, somewhere in the world there is the nautical equivalent of a hit and run when a cable is torn by fishing nets or sliced by dragging anchors. If the mishap occurs in the Irish Sea, the North Sea or the North Atlantic, Rennie comes in to splice the break together.