Mar 04, 2015

The Eiffel Tower has new wind turbines, and they're beautiful

posted by Larra Morris

The Eiffel Tower’s iron-clad frame turned slightly greener last week, with the installation of two new wind turbines along its lower deck. Perched some 400 feet above the ground, atop a ritzy, second-level restaurant, the slender turbines are part of a broader effort to make Paris’ most iconic monument more eco-friendly — even if only slightly.

When they go into operation next week, the 17-foot structures will provide enough electricity to power the tower's first-floor commercial areas — about 10,000kWh per year. Jan Gromadzki, an engineer who oversaw the project for New York-based Urban Green Technology (UGE), says that's enough to power an average American family’s home for one year. But for the Eiffel Tower — which consumes an estimated 6.7 GWh a year — “it's just a small drop in the ocean."
via The Verge

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Mar 04, 2015

Designer produces a 3D-printed edible morsel using both technical and natural processes

posted by Larra Morris

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In her 2014 experimental design project Edible Growth, designer Chloé Rutzerveld has created a 3D-printed edible morsel using a combination of technical and natural processes. The morsel is grown inside a 3D-printed edible structure, with plants and fungi sprouting out after about five days. The rapid-manufactured nature of the food limits environmental impact by shortening the food chain and limiting land and energy use. The food is nutritious because it is grown from natural ingredients using natural processes including photosynthesis and fermentation. And since it is intended for immediate consumption, no preservatives are needed.
via Laughing Squid

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Image: Chloé Rutzerveld

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Mar 03, 2015

NASA's super ball bot could be the best design for planetary exploration

posted by Larra Morris

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NASA’s Super Ball Bot has to be one of the most bizarrely and effectively innovative robot designs we’ve ever come across. It’s a tensegrity structure, nothing more (and nothing less) than a bunch of rods connected by a bunch of cables. It’s almost certainly not what you picture when you think of a robot, much less a robot that’s intended to head into space. At NASA Ames Research Center, they’ve been working on this project through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, and we have an update for you about what they’ve been up to.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Mar 03, 2015

New glasses make you invisible to facial recognition software

posted by Larra Morris

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To make it difficult for facial recognition systems to actually recognize a wearer's face, the glasses feature a set of infrared LEDs around the eyes and nose that are only visible to digital cameras. When a photo of the wearer's face is snapped, those areas, which are crucial to facial recognition working, are obscured with a bright bloom.
via Gizmodo

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Mar 03, 2015

A little girl fed some crows and now they bring her wonderful presents

posted by Larra Morris

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Crows, as we all know, are terrifyingly smart. In the latest episode of a podcast called The Bittersweet Life, we hear from a young girl named Gabi who started feeding a group of crows, and her feathered friends started bringing her delightfully shiny presents in return, including earrings, paper clips, and even a light bulb. Her favorite gift so part is a piece of metal that says BEST. "I don't know if they have the part that says FRIEND," says Gabi.
via Boing Boing

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Mar 02, 2015

Why can't some people see Magic Eye pictures?

posted by Laura Domela

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When we discussed how Magic Eye pictures work, a lot of people commented about how they can never see the hidden image. So what gives? Is there something wrong with these people's eyes? Are they cursed? Are there really no hidden pictures? Is this all a hoax?

Most Magic Eye problems have to do with the way the eyes work with each other and the brain. To view 3D stereo images, your peepers have to work together as a coordinated team. If they're not pulling together, you're going to have some glitches in your binocular (two-eyed) vision or stereo vision (where the two slightly different views from your eyes are combined in the brain). A number of things can cause binocular and stereo vision impairment — most commonly, deviations or misalignments of one or both eyes ("crossed eyes" or "wall eyes"), situations where one eye is dominant because visual stimulation either transmits poorly or not at all from the other, astigmatism or cataracts. If you think you have an eye problem, go see an eye doctor who can test and treat your stereo vision.

If your eyes are fine, then your Magic Eye problems could just be a matter of technique.
via Mental Floss

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Mar 02, 2015

Thought-controlled drones may be just the first step in aviation revolution

posted by Larra Morris

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In what may be a just a taste of what's possible when you merge robotics and neuroscience, researchers from Portugal's Brainflight project have successfully demonstrated a drone flight piloted by human thought.

The Brainflight project is led by Portuguese technology firm Tekever with the backing of several science organizations across Europe and follows in the footsteps of similar research efforts carried out around the globe. Back in 2012, researchers at Zhejiang University in China were able todemonstrate a mind-controlled drone by slapping a electroencephalogram (EEG) headset on subjects to measure their brainwaves. More recently, a project at the University of Minnesota saw pilots able to control quadcopters by imagining opening or closing their fists.
via Gizmag

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