By Page Grossman
Posted 08.28.2012 at 3:21 pm 12 Comments
Since 2009, Utah has used computers to grade essays on a state student-assessment test. And testing companies use essay-evaluating software as one of two graders on graduate-school admissions exams such as the GRE. But how well, really, can a computer grade an essay?
Since we don't have the usual landmarks on Mars that we enjoy on Earth, it can be tough to get a sense of scale for the great shots we've seen from Mars rover Curiosity. In this photo of Mount Sharp--Curiosity's scientific destination--the mound in the center of the image is about 1,000 feet across and 300 feet high. Curiosity, relative to that, looks like a speck of dirt, as you can see after the jump.
There's only one it's-the-future-why-don't-we-have-x trope that rivals the flying car, and that's the space elevator. (First proposed in 1895, it might even predate it.) The idea of a giant tower that can carry us from Earth to outer space is legend, and it probably will be for a long time.
Oriental fruit flies are one of the biggest scourges to farmers around the globe, often forcing officials to put crops into quarantine just to keep Bactrocera dorsalis shut out. In Taiwan, where the situation is especially dire, scientists are using artificial intelligence tech that can determine, with uncanny accuracy, where and when an outbreak is about to happen.
There's some history in this week's roundup of stunning images. For one, we have a photo of the Nevada atomic bomb tests from the '50s, taken from the Las Vegas strip. Alongside that we have what you see above: a nuclear power station still in use today. We're also featuring a Syrian rebel with a machine gun and cellphone, a psychedelic art project with water balloons and bald men, DIY lava, and more. Check out the gallery to see them all.
Stitches deserve a makeover. We've been using them in some form for thousands of years. So while they've stood the test of time, a researcher from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is wrestling surgical sutures into the future by creating "smart" electronic versions. They can monitor sutured sites for infection, and even help in the healing process.
We've heard of odd rules put in place (marijuana use comes to mind) to keep Olympians and Paralympians from gaining an unfair advantage, but this is odd and more than a little scary: Against regulations, some Paralympians may physically hurt themselves--maybe to the point of breaking a bone--in order to get an edge in competition.
Animals use electricity to move, and so electricity can be used to make them move, as the scientists at Backyard Brains show in a neat DIY experiment that can be done with a cockroach's leg. For a larger scale version, they connected the device to a squid, which produce pigmented cells called chromatophores to reflect light. By using an iPod blasting Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Membrane" as the stimulant, they discovered a lovely, abstract look at the process.
We've already seen that it's possible to print parts of a gun--and have it work--using a 3-D printer. The project was highly controversial, but now a group wants to make sure that anyone can print a working gun at home.
Future tech doesn't always look the way the '70s might've predicted, but sometimes it does. Case in point: this beautiful, fully functional hoverbike that could've been torn out of our archives. It's going to be a while before you see one zipping down the street, but if the public does get a chance to ride one, the bike is rideable right out of the box--no training required.
When a roadside bomb or other explosive device goes off, it hits everything nearby with an extreme blast of pressure. Almost simultaneously comes a heat--more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit--that's hot enough to cook skin. Presented today at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, a new invention will try to counteract that, and do it through a technology that's already been used for hundreds of years: camouflage paint.
Massive blood loss, known as MBL in the medical world, is a major cause of death during cardiac surgery--and an accepted one, because it's the best option we have. Blood transfusions help, but those aren't without complications, either. A new device could cut that step out of the process for some patients by collecting the blood from a surgery, concentrating the blood cells, and routing it intravenously right back to the person on the table.
3-D printing has yielded items both fascinating and potentially troubling. Now we can add one more to the list of printed achievements: The U.S. Army has had a rapid prototyping wing for some time, and now they've deployed full teams--complete with scientists and 3-D printers--to Afghanistan.
Shape-shifting stadiums could transform the way we watch sports
By Bjorn Carey
Posted 08.21.2012 at 10:06 am 6 Comments
Almost as soon as RFK Stadium opened in 1961, it became clear that the stadium was a dud. Football fans complained that the low seating made it difficult to see the entire field. Baseball fans complained that they had to twist in their seats to see the action at home plate. By trying to accommodate two sports, the stadium failed at both. All dozen of the combination football-baseball stadiums built in the U.S. since then have garnered similar complaints.
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.