For a beautiful demonstration of both magnetic force and gyroscopic motion, let's contemplate the Levitron. This novelty toy (which even now sits on my shelf waiting for a quick spin around the block) consists of a magnetic base upon which you spin a magnetic gyroscope. Both the bottom of the gyroscope and the top of the base contain magnetic north poles, and therefore they repel each other.
However, try as you might, you'll never be able to balance the magnet above the base without spinning the top. Why is this?
The Toy Industry Association's annual toy fair had some standout 21st century innovations. Some were creepy, like the Dora the Explorer doll whose hair actually grows when you play an online beauty game. And some were just plain cool. The best thing I got my hands on: A fully electronic version of the classic Rubik's Cube.
See below for details on the technology, plus exclusive video of one of the two existing prototypes.
The annual Bay Area carnival attracts the best Makers in the land. See what caught our eye this year
By John MahoneyPosted 05.05.2008 at 6:11 pm 2 Comments
We're back from this weekend's Maker Faire, the third-annual event in San Mateo, CA . Our friends at Make continue to up the ante, bringing DIYers from far and wide to show off their projects at the ultimate geek county fair.
What makes Pleo, the long-awaited toy dino from Ugobe, able to respond to its surroundings and learn from its environment? We take a look at his high-tech innards to see
By Sarah Z. WexlerPosted 03.13.2008 at 4:32 pm 13 Comments
Four years in the making, Pleo, from California start-up Ugobe, is a baby dinosaur robot that acts and learns like a real animal, remembering traumatic experiences and friendly owners. We peeled off its skin to reveal more than a dozen motors, six processors and 38 sensors behind its personality.
Last week, toy manufacturers showed off the gadgets that’ll have you lining up outside stores come Christmas; we pick our favorites for all kids at heart
By Lauren AaronsonPosted 02.25.2008 at 4:34 pm 1 Comment
The annual Toy Industry Association's Toy Fair is every kids dream: A whole conference center packed with games, robots, balls, hula hoops, slime guns, Smurfs, and just about any other instrument of fun that you can imagine. Come to think of it, its every adults dream, too.
It looks like Bubble Wrap, but BlastWrap isn't for cushioning eBay shipments. A BlastWrap-lined garbage can will dissipate a backpack-size-bomb blast in less than one thousandth of a second. The wrap's 2.75-inch compartments are stuffed with heat-treated perlite (the foamy pellets found in potting soil), a volcanic glass. The beads have a strong internal structure of sealed, air-filled cells. When a blast occurs, the cells are crushed one by one, minimizing damage to the surrounding area, while fire extinguishants snuff the fireball.
With nine processors and 234 million transistors, the Cell is the powerhouse of Sony's forthcoming PlayStation 3 console. The four-plus-gigahertz (depending on its application) chip calculates an unmatched 256 billion operations per second, making it 35 times as fast as the PS2's chip. The upshot: Characters react more realistically (like flinching when bullets whiz by). Next year Toshiba will offer an HDTV set that uses the chip to decode high-def signals.
You may think you've seen these before, but you haven't. Although traditional clear soap bubbles give you a rainbow effect in the right light, Zubbles are the first truly colored bubbles-nearly opaque, with a single vibrant hue. The problem, which took Minnesota toy inventor Tim Kehoe more than 10 years to solve, was to create a dye that could not only tint the thin wall of a soap bubble but that wouldn't leave a stain when the bubble broke. His solution: invent an entirely new dye that simply disappears.
A Fuel-Cell Motorcycle With Portable Power
Riding the ENV is more akin to skiing or sailing than cruising on a 176-pound motorcycle. It's emission-free and as quiet as your computer. At the heart of this hydrogen-powered machine is a fuel cell, dubbed the Core. It breaks down hydrogen into electrons, which power the electric motor, and protons, which interact with oxygen taken in through the ENV's nosecone and are released as Earthfriendly water vapor and heat. The Core is detachable, so it can power a small house or boat. Available in late 2006. $6,000
Pumping beer too quickly leads to excess foam, so bar patron turned inventor Matt Younkle designed the TurboTap to reduce the turbulence of fast-flowing beer. The tap's tapered interior limits the beer's acceleration, and an internal diverter sprays it across the bottom of the glass. The result-now available at ballparks and bars-is a perfect pour in half
the time. $100