May 17, 2013

Robot helps house-bound boy attend school

posted by Larra Morris

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When Lyndon Baty was born six weeks premature with a life-threatening condition, polycystic kidney disease (PKD), doctors gave him two years to live. Now aged 17, Lyndon requires constant medical attention. PKD has prevented his body from developing at a normal rate, and he's unable to attend school or do many of the things most teenagers take for granted. Lyndon's condition hasn't stopped him from going to school, though; he attends classes, and socializes with other students, through a teleconferencing robot created by Roomba maker iRobot. An in-depth report from the Dallas Observer details the creation of the robot, Lyndon's story, and his continuing trials with PKD.
via The Verge

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Image: Dylan Hollingsworth

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May 17, 2013

Wide-angle interior shots of Sagrada Família in Barcelona

posted by Larra Morris

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The incredible interior of the iconic Barcelona church Sagrada Família is revealed in these wide-angle photos by photographer Clement Celma. Construction of the Sagrada Família, known formally as the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, was started in 1882. In 1883 Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí took over the project, radically redesigning the church in his own style. Gaudí was still working on the church when he died in 1926. The church is still under construction.
via Laughing Squid

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May 17, 2013

Water-activated LED wall: sounds dangerous, looks beautiful (video)

posted by Larra Morris

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Water and electricity: historically, not a great combo! But Antonin Fourneau, a French artist and engineer, combines both to remarkable ends in his installation, Water Light Graffiti, which landed in New York this week.

The surface of Water Light Graffiti is dotted by thousands of LEDs, each ringed by a sensor that triggers the light when it's wet. Visitors are welcome to grab a paintbrush or super soaker (or straight-up bucket) and go to town on the board, which fades back to black after a few minutes. The idea, Fourneau says, is to get people creating and interacting without the self-consciousness of actually painting.
via Gizmodo

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May 16, 2013

Nanoscavengers could be the next-gen water purifiers

posted by Larra Morris

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According to a joint World Health Organization/UNICEF report issued this week, an estimated 768 million people relied on unimproved drinking-water sources in 2011, with 185 million of these relying on surface water to meet their daily drinking-water needs. WHO and UNICEF have set a 2030 target for everyone to have access to a safe drinking-water supply and new water-purifying “nanoscavengers” developed by researchers at Stanford University could help achieve this goal.

There are various nanoparticles that boast different water-purifying properties. Silver nanoparticles act as an antibiotic, titanium dioxide nanoparticles trap heavy metals and pollutants, while others capture salt. Engineers call these kinds of particles nanoscavengers and in recent years they have been seeking ways to make use of them to disinfect, depollute, and desalinate contaminated water.
via Gizmag

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Image:  Mingliang Zhang, Stanford School of Engineering

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May 16, 2013

Carnivorous plant has deleted most of its junk DNA

posted by Larra Morris

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Over the weekend, Nature released a paper that describes the genome of a fascinating creature with a rather unglamorous name: the bladderwort. These plants live in swampy or liquid environments and find it hard to get sufficient nutrients there, so the plants have turned carnivorous in order to survive. The bladders that give the group of related species its name are actually feeding organs. When an organism brushes up against their triggers, the bladders swell by sucking in the surrounding water, along with any organisms it carries. They then seal off, allowing the plant to digest its prey.

The oddities continue at the molecular level. The genome of this bladderwort, Utricularia gibba, contains more genes than are found in the human genome (something common in plants), but it carries them all in a compact genome that's only a bit over 2 percent of the size of the human version. It does this largely by getting rid of just about everything that could possibly be considered superfluous—which may tell us important things about whether most of the DNA we carry really is superfluous.
via Ars Technica

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Image: Enrique Ibarra-Laclette, Claudia Anahí Pérez-Torres and Paulina Lozano-Sotomayor

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May 16, 2013

The world's longest Lego railway includes 2.5 miles of track

posted by Larra Morris

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It's not quite as exciting as free-falling from the edge of space, but a group of 80 Lego enthusiasts in Denmark, led by Henrik Ludvigsen, now hold the Guinness Record for the world's longest plastic toy train track—an honor that will certainly look fantastic on a resume.

Inspired by his own impressive collection of Lego track pieces, Henrik put the call out for others around the world to pool their pieces and collectively set a new world record. Overall the layout included over 100,000 pieces of Lego—tracks and support bricks—spanning a length of over 2.485 miles.
via Gizmodo

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May 16, 2013

Inorganic Flora, a collection of detailed botanical blueprints

posted by Larra Morris

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Botanist and designer Macoto Murayama has created “Inorganic Flora,” a collection of intricate blueprints of numerous flowers. Murayama buys different flowers from roadside stands and then dissects, photographs, and sketches them, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Then he creates detailed digital 3D models of the flower and its parts and makes a beautiful, annotated blueprint of each bloom. More of Murayama’s amazing floral blueprints can be viewed at Frantic Gallery.
via Laughing Squid

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May 15, 2013

Comedian Kickstartered money to skywrite this stupid message over downtown Los Angeles

posted by Laura Domela

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In probably the best use of Kickstarter to date, comedian Kurt Braunohler raised $6,820 to hire a skywriter to write "HOW DO I LAND?" over Downtown.

Check out his Kickstarter project here.

via Curbed

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May 15, 2013

Sun erupts with three X-class flares in one day, complete with coronal mass ejections

posted by Larra Morris

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The Sun is ramping up towards its peak activity in its 11-year-cycle, and it’s doing so in a big way. In one 24-hour period, the Sun has erupted with three progressively more intense X-class solar flares from the same region, each with its own coronal mass ejection. The CMEs are not heading in the direction of Earth, but could affect some spacecraft.

These flares are pretty powerful, falling into the X-class category — the most intense type of solar flare. As the Sun approaches the peak of its activity cycle, which is expected to be some point in 2013, it’s likely we’ll see more flares like these.
via Geekosystem

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Image: NASA/SDO/AIA

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May 15, 2013

Yep, this is a motorcycle with a plane engine

posted by Laura Domela

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Frank Ohle is an incredibly skilled DIYer who outfitted his motorcycle with a 150hp Rotec Radial R3600 engine. For those of you who know a lot about bikes, you're probably scratching your heads right about now. Don't start questioning your knowledge yet though, experienced hobbyists, because the Rotec Radial R3600 is a freakin' plane engine.
via DVICE

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