May 23, 2013

Softstop barrier system projects giant stop sign on a curtain of water to stop motorists in emergency

posted by Larra Morris

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The Softstop Barrier System projects an enormous image of a stop sign across a roadway in an emergency. The system deploys in less than three seconds, releasing a curtain of water on which the stop sign is projected. It is currently used at Sydney Harbour Tunnel to prevent oversize trucks from entering and damaging the tunnel. As this video from Australian TV station Ten dramatically demonstrates, the Sydney installation works even when an inattentive driver misses a series of other stop signals. The system was developed by Laservision, a company that primarily makes large-scale displays for entertainment.
via Laughing Squid

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May 23, 2013

Submersible camera snaps pics of ocean going predators

posted by Larra Morris

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This camera rig uses a Raspberry Pi to send a camera down fifty meters in order to spy on sharks....

The project used a collection of camera units spread over a large area to monitor shark activity. Each is mounted on an anchored buoy, using solar panels and a lead acid gel battery for power. The RPi itself remains topside in a waterproof box. It connects to the camera using a 50-foot Ethernet patch cable.
via Hack a Day

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May 22, 2013

Surveillance and the internet of things

posted by Laura Domela

From Schneier on Security: a blog covering security and security technology

The Internet has turned into a massive surveillance tool. We're constantly monitored on the Internet by hundreds of companies -- both familiar and unfamiliar. Everything we do there is recorded, collected, and collated -- sometimes by corporations wanting to sell us stuff and sometimes by governments wanting to keep an eye on us.

Ephemeral conversation is over. Wholesale surveillance is the norm. Maintaining privacy from these powerful entities is basically impossible, and any illusion of privacy we maintain is based either on ignorance or on our unwillingness to accept what's really going on.

It's about to get worse, though. Companies such as Google may know more about your personal interests than your spouse, but so far it's been limited by the fact that these companies only see computer data. And even though your computer habits are increasingly being linked to your offline behavior, it's still only behavior that involves computers.

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May 22, 2013

The ultimate spaceship face-off, interactive guide for comparing the speeds of famed sci-fi ships

posted by Laura Domela

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Slate interactives editor Chris Kirk created a very handy interactive guide for comparing the speeds of some of the most popular spaceships from science fiction television shows, films and the real world. You can select a destination (Alpha CentauriGalactic CenterAndromeda Galaxy) and instantly view the visual race between each of the ships and then get specific results afterward.
via Laughing Squid

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May 22, 2013

The Xbox One's secret killer feature: getting you in shape

posted by Laura Domela

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Yes, the new Xbox One is highly covetable for many reasons. But once you get past the games and the TV integration and the rumbling controllers, you finally land on what might be its most useful purpose: The world's most sophisticated workout gadget.

The Xbox is already a decent workout aid; last year we spent some time playing with Nike+ Kinect Training for the Xbox 360, and came away duly impressed. But the Xbox One with the Kinect 2 is going to blow it out of the water. It's improved in just about every way imaginable, and that's going to make it amazing for exercise. Here are just a few of the benefits coming this year.
via Gizmodo

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May 22, 2013

Brain-stimulating headset with zap video gamers' skulls to give them better reflexes

posted by Laura Domela

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Foc.us is a company that makes headsets for gamers. Those headsets, starting to ship in July, send electricity through your brain. This is their pitch:

Overclock your brain using transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to increase the plasticity of your brain. Make your synapses fire faster.
Faster Processor, Faster Graphics, Faster Brain!

If that sounds a little sketchy to you, that's because it probably should.

The excellent NeuroBollocks blog explains how transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) is an interesting idea: sending targeted, low-level electric currents through the brain with TDCS excites certain regions, which could have implications in treating depression and stroke victims. Plug in a patient for 20 minutes, and you could get the effects for up to days at a time. So foc.us is marketing $249 headsets ("Maximum 2 headsets per order.") that claim to "[e]xcite your prefrontal cortex," thus improving your gaming ability. To the company's credit, at least one study suggests hooking up a 9-volt to your skull could improve gaming ability, although that was all done in the lab, under professional supervision.
via Popular Science

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May 22, 2013

NASA funds 3D food printer, pizza is the first item on the menu

posted by Larra Morris

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NASA's gotten in on the synthesized food action by awarding a $125,000 grant to Anjan Contractor, head of Systems & Materials Research Corporation, to develop a 3D food printer. The first device Contractor plans to build under the six-month grant is based on RepRap's open-source hardware and will be designed to print a pizza comprised of three layers of nutritional powders mixed with water and oil. As the final frontier gets further and further away, NASA's need for a nutritious, long-lasting food supply suitable for space travel grows. Since the powders used in Contractor's design -- potentially sourced from insects, grass and algae -- have a shelf life of about 30 years, his 3D food printer would be well-suited to the task.
via Engadget

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May 22, 2013

Ricettario, recipes visualized in precariously balanced arrangements of ingredients

posted by Larra Morris

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In the photo series “Ricettario: A balanced diet,” recipes are visualized in precariously balanced arrangements of their various ingredients. The arrangements were created by Italian stylist and set designer Elena Mora. The photos were taken by Karsten Wegener.
via Laughing Squid

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May 22, 2013

Electrified, student-built Karmann Ghia runs on tweets

posted by Larra Morris

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A group of Kansas City high school students and their mentors have electrified a Karmann Ghia, modifying it so that it will only run when it gets mentioned in social media. If that sounds like a publicity stunt, that’s because it is. And it’s for a good cause.

Minddrive has taken kids who have fallen through the cracks and developed an after-school programthat matches them with mentors and gets them excited about learning through hands-on automotive work. Each year, the students’ final project is a road trip in the car they built.
via Wired Autopia

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May 21, 2013

500 million years of evolution in under 4 minutes

posted by Laura Domela

Although this video by Fatboy Slim isn’t particularly new, it’s a great depiction of the process of evolution and still deserves recognition. Starting with some of the earliest forms of life, and ending with an interesting twist on human evolution (is our species evolving in a positive direction?) the video brings you a seamless and entertaining view of evolutionary biology. A great science-music video to get your week started!

via Scientific American 

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