The wind may be restless, but the fastest air-powered ground vehicle is surprisingly steady as it sails over the dusty ground. Called Greenbird, it was developed by English engineer Richard Jenkins and the U.K.'s largest private green electricity supplier, Ecotricity.
On March 26 in a dry lakebed in California, the craft broke the world land-speed record for wind-powered vehicles by more than 10 miles an hour, setting the new record at 126.2 mph.
Finally: a flash camera without all the usual problems. By using a flashbulb that emits ultraviolet and infrared light (neither of which the human eye can detect) instead of visible light, New York University's Dilip Krishnan and Rob Fergus have come up with dark photography that will neither blind your subject nor produce the unwanted glare of a harsh flash in the developed photo.
Everyone knows the headache of waiting on line at the DMV to get a new driver's license. Now imagine repeating that process 1.2 billion times. Thanks to a new ID program, that's exactly what the government of India will soon experience.
The Indian government has just announced a plan to furnish every member of the country's immense citizenry with state-of-the-art biometric identification cards. The cards will carry retina and fingerprint data and credit and criminal histories, and will be linked to a central online database.
Four years ago, a team of researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland switched on Blue Brain, a computer designed to mimic a functioning slice of a rat's brain. At first, the virtual neurons fired only when prodded by a simulated electrical current. But recently, that has changed.
Apparently, the simulated neurons have begun spontaneously coordinating, and organizing themselves into a more complex pattern that resembles a wave. According to the scientists, this is the beginning of the self-organizing neurological patterns that eventually, in more complex mammal brains, become personality.
Georgia Tech researchers are working on a new novel material for cooling high-powered military radar gear up to 100 times better than current conductive heat-dissipation technology.
Developed in conjunction with Raytheon and DARPA, the material is a composite of copper and diamond, two of the most effective heat-conducting materials. The composite would serve as part of a sandwich of cooling materials called a Thermal Ground Plane, which, combined with a liquid cooling setup, would surround the transmit/receive module in a radar system.
For long-distance trips, the seeing-eye dog might soon be replaced by the seeing-eye car. Researchers on Virginia Tech's Blind Driver Team, with funding from the National Federation of the Blind, might soon give blind people the ability to do something they never thought possible: drive. The prototype "car" is actually a buggy equipped with lasers that judge the surrounding terrain.
Comic book-inspired technology tends to be awesome, and Shigeo Hirose's pneumatic grappling hook doesn't disappoint. Inspired by Batman's wonderful toys and the way Spiderman swings from web to web, Hirose designed the hook so that a series of them could work together to allow robots to navigate difficult terrain.
A winch launches the hook, which then orients itself to grasp whatever rests below it, thanks to an offset center of gravity. A braking spool keeps the line from knotting up, and pneumatic pressure controls the opening and closing of the grappling hook spikes.
Anyone who's ever spilled a hot beverage in his or her lap will be happy to hear that chemists at the University of Minnesota have announced a scaldproof fabric.
Water-resistant fabric, of course, has already existed for some time -- but its impermeability applies only to cool liquids. Hot coffee, scalding soup, and other liquids above a certain temperature, on the other hand, seep right through water-resistant cloth.
We've told you about bike-sharing programs before, but the Hybrid2 design by Chiyu Chen takes the idea one step further, by using the bikes to put power back in the system. The idea is to put "ultracapacitors" into the bikes that will harness and store the kinetic energy generated by pedaling and braking. Once you return the bike to its rental kiosk, the energy stored in the bike will be transferred to the city's smart grid, and used to help power hybrid buses.
Forget that new outfit or tech toy -- next time you have some cash to burn (whenever that may be), why not get an analysis of your genes done? A startup genomics company called Pathway Genomics announced today the most affordable (and exhaustive) public DNA service on the market.