Apr 09, 2013

Bitcoin blows up, exchange rate jumps ten-fold in recent weeks

posted by Laura Domela

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Are we witnessing the birth pangs of a new decentralized global currency? Or is Bitcoin merely an age-old investment mania repackaged for the digital age?

Recent headlines are humming over the booming digital currency Bitcoin—it’s either the next big thing or the digital equivalent of Tulipomania. Either way, there’s no debating the fact Bitcoin’s on a wild ride.
via Singularity Hub

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Apr 09, 2013

Tiny chiplets: a new level of micro manufacturing

posted by Laura Domela

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Under a microscope, four slivers of silicon — electronic circuits called chiplets — perform an elaborate, jerky dance as if controlled by a hidden puppet master. Then on command, they all settle with pinpoint accuracy, precisely touching a pattern of circuit wires, each at just the right point of contact.

The technology, on display at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC, is part of a new system for making electronics, one that takes advantage of a Xerox invention from the 1970s: the laser printer.
via New York Times

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Apr 09, 2013

New virus could stop houseflies from breeding, landing on your lunch

posted by Larra Morris

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Summer time is just around the corner, which means that house fly season is about to get really real... Thanks to the miracles of modern science though, you may one day be able to put down the swatter and relax without worrying about some insect rubbing its disease-ridden hands all over your food. That’s because a team of scientists at the Agricultural Research Service have identified a virus that renders flies incapable of breeding and could help to curb populations of the creatures in the future.
via Geekosystem

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Apr 09, 2013

Ten cool things about blackholes

posted by Larra Morris

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From Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy, a list of ten things you might not know about black holes. Some of this I knew, but this one is incredible:

If you were to rope off the solar system out past Neptune, enclose it in a giant sphere, and fill it with air, it would be a black hole!

via Kottke and Discover

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Apr 09, 2013

Can we grow a stronger-than-steel 'wonder material' to save the world?

posted by Larra Morris

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It’s stiffer than Kevlar, thinner than paper, and in a few years, it may be mass-produced using only sunlight and water.

Scientists in the US this week announced a new, and potentially groundbreaking method for producing nanocellulose — a so-called "wonder material" derived from tree fiber that could be used to create ultra-thin displays, lightweight body armor, and a wide range of other products.

Their key ingredient? Algae.
via The Verge

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Image: Wikimedia commons

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Apr 09, 2013

Tenth Annual RoboGames, the world’s largest robot competition

posted by Larra Morris

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The world’s largest robot competition (described as the “Olympics of Robots”), the International RoboGames, is celebrating its tenth year in 2013. Organizers Simone Davalos and David Calkins “invite the best minds from around the world to compete in over 50 different events: combat robots, fire-fighters, LEGO bots, hockey bots, walking humanoids, soccer bots, sumo bots, and even androids that do kung-fu.” RoboGames 2013 takes place in San Mateo, California at the San Mateo County Expo Center from Friday to Sunday, April 19-21 and tickets are available to purchase online now.
via Laughing Squid

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Apr 08, 2013

3D printed speakers give you a custom light show to go with your tunes (video)

posted by Larra Morris

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With the Objet Connex 500, Atherton is able to print single objects that seamlessly integrate two different materials, as opposed to less expensive printers that output one substance only. In this case, he combined a flexible rubber and a hard plastic to print out a pair of crystal orb speaker housings. From there he inserted strips of addressable RGB LEDs operated by a custom LumiGeek microcontroller to make the speakers glow in time with your tunes. LumiGeek also provided the companion app that enables users to fine tune the light show to their tastes.
via Engadget

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Apr 08, 2013

Are we paying enough attention to technology's dark side?

posted by Laura Domela

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For centuries, the threat and selective use of brute force has steered the international balance of power. In the last couple decades, the system has increasingly accommodated economic power as a means of non-violent leverage between states. Now, says Singularity University’s Marc Goodman, we must add technology into the mix.

Technological power is not new, of course, but information technology’s exponential pace and declining cost is changing how the global game is played and who the players are. Control of technology is passing from the richest states and governments to smaller groups and individuals, and the results are both inspiring and terrifying.

As Goodman says, “The ability of one to affect many is scaling exponentially—and it’s scaling for good and it’s scaling for evil.”
via Singularity Hub

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Apr 08, 2013

A Sesame Street for makers?

posted by Laura Domela

This week, Adafruit Industries launches an educational series aimed at kids, report Hackaday and others. And it’s about time.

Discussions of modern technology often evokes the word “magic.” Some of the most popular devices, like the MacBook Air, are built in such a way to seriously dissuade anyone who would go inside and tinker with the works. For the vast consumer market, it makes sense for technology to present itself as a “magic box.” Most people don’t care about how their laptop works; they just want it to work. And that’s fair.

But we must think of the children.

I’ve interviewed a lot of engineers over the years, and it’s amazing how many of them can trace their fascination with technology to a youthful moment where they played with or took apart a piece of kit.  You can only become fascinated with the structure of something if you can see the structure of it. You need that gear, that spring, that rivet to pop out at you and send you down the rabbit hole. This is how passions are born.
via Technology Review

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Tags : DIY, education,    0 comments  
Apr 08, 2013

Oxford University researchers create new 3D printed 'soft material' that could replace human tissue

posted by Larra Morris

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Water and fat -- those are the two primary building blocks Oxford Universityresearchers have used to 3D print the droplet you see above. Sounds unremarkable until you consider its intended application as a human tissue replacement. By stringing together thousands of these so-called droplets (which measure about 50 microns across) using a custom-built 3D printer, the Oxford team believes it has engineered a "new type of material" that could eventually be used to ferry drugs throughout our internal systems to a specific target site, fill-in for damaged tissues or even mimic neural pathways via specially printed protein pores.
via Engadget

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