The World Wildlife Federation announced the creation of its first file format, WWF, designed as a replacement for PDF. It's essentially identical to PDF, except for one key difference: It can't be printed. The WWF hopes this will reduce unnecessary paper use, or at least bring some attention to the fact that lots of paper use is unnecessary.
IKAROS would do well to watch its back, for the Japanese solar-sailing spacecraft may just have some competition that's fast enough to catch up. The EU is funding a three-year project at the Finnish Meteorological Institute to build the fastest man-made device in the universe: an electric sail, or ESAIL, that researchers say could make Pluto in just five years' time.
If it wouldn’t be completely ironic to do so, we could write at length about the value of elegance in simplicity. Instead, we offer by way of example this tentacle-like prosthesis designed by recent U. of Washington industrial design grad Kaylene Kau. It’s simple, both aesthetically and mechanically, and it solves a problem smartly.
The strangely named Dalu Rebot Restaurant, in the northeastern Chinese city of Jinan, is a 100-seat hotpot restaurant with a very peculiar staffing choice: It features two robot receptionists and six robot waiters who wheel around drinks and food on large indoor pedal-driven carts.
That Nike + iPod technology that allows shoes and workout machines to feed information to portable electronics devices was a nice first step in merging athletic equipment and electronics to help users work out smarter. Now Reebok is taking the next step, working with startup MC10 to create flexible electronics that are built right into sportswear, removing the need for some clunky external device to record or transmit data.
British engineers say they are just 18 months away from a remotely controlled highly dextrous hand that could lead to huge breakthroughs in telepresence tasks ranging from hazardous materials disposal to bomb disassembly. Controlled by 20 motors mounted below the wrist, UK-based Shadow Robot Company’s C6M2 hand mimics the movements of a hand wearing a special glove, allowing anyone to control the robotic hands without specialized training.
Buried beneath November's headlines depicting rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, European economic woes, and the brazen disclosure of confidential State Department cables, a meaningful geopolitical event went largely overlooked: Nicaragua invaded Costa Rica. There was no shooting war and the incident involved only a small swath of disputed territory along the San Juan River, part of which divides the two nations. But a Nicaraguan commander added an interesting wrinkle to the narrative when he dragged an unlikely culprit into the dispute: Google.
A real-life sonic screwdriver could use ultrasonic waves to apply forces to objects, according to researchers in the UK. Bruce Drinkwater, the professor who proposes this idea, says that in theory, ultrasonic waves can be rotated at high speeds to create force fields that would act like a real screwdriver.
Everyone loves apps, right? Google is the first to launch a desktop app store (though Apple and Microsoft aren't far behind), the Chrome Web Store, expressly designed for their Chrome browser. It looks pretty much like any other app store, with games, utilities, news, and other categories, except Chrome apps run right in your browser, in their own tab. There are hundreds already, so combing through the lists to get to the good stuff can be tricky. Here are ten of our favorites.
The private spaceflight industry took another giant leap forward today as privately-owned SpaceX, with help from NASA, successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying its Dragon crew capsule into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Though the crew capsule was unmanned for this maiden flight, the launch marks the first time a private spaceflight company has launched a spaceship into orbit with the intention of bringing it safely back to Earth.