Jul 29, 2014

Stanford researchers develop self-cooling solar cells

posted by Larra Morris

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Photovoltaic cells are one of the more promising alternative energy sources. Mechanically they are very simple, with no moving parts, and are clean and emission-free. Unfortunately they are also inefficient. One of the reasons for this is that they overheat, a problem that a Stanford University team under electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan is addressing with the development of a thin glass layer that makes solar cells self-cooling.
via Gizmag

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Image: The Optical Society 

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Jul 29, 2014

Stackable cells allow you to sleep on top of your friends at music festivals

posted by Larra Morris

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There may be a much more comfortable and stylish way to stay the night next time you head to a big music festival. Two Belgian design firms have created an efficient new type of campsite that stacks tiny sleeping pods together like a honeycomb. The pods look like they should provide a bit more comfort and space than the average tent — they even have power and a king-size bed — but the overall structure shouldn't take up dramatically more room because it's building vertically, using a short stairwell to provide access the upper levels.
via The Verge

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Jul 28, 2014

Sensor-powered seatbelt could save the lives of sleepy drivers

posted by Laura Domela

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Wearable tech has done a lot to foster the rise of the "quantified self" space, but surprisingly few of these devices focus on enhancing our safety.

Now a new prototype system looks to harness the kind of heartbeat and respiration monitoring features present in some wearables to alert drivers as to when they are dozing off behind the wheel.

Developed by the Biomechanics Institute (IBV) in Valencia, Spain, the Heart and Respiration In-Car Embedded Non-Intrusive Sensors (Harken) system works by measuring the heart rate (via seatbelt sensors) and respiratory pace (via seat cover sensors) of the driver.
via Mashable

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Jul 28, 2014

Giant UFO harvesting energy from the sun?

posted by Laura Domela

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A set of mysterious pictures of the Sun uploaded to NASA’s servers have caused a furore in the UFO-hunting community, for showing what has been interpreted as a giant alien ship ‘sucking life’ from our star, Huffington Post reports.

Needless to say, NASA isn’t convinced (and neither are we). So what is it? First, let’s take the view of UFO Sightings Daily, who are convinced there is something unnatural at play. (Which is not unusual, by the way.)
via Daily Times

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Tags : space, energy,    0 comments  
Jul 28, 2014

Strange bacteria dine on electricity and link up to form biowires

posted by Laura Domela

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All living organisms need energy. Most animals get their energy by eating other organisms. Plants manufacture energy from sunlight. Now, scientists are finding a strange form of bacterial life that dines on unadulterated electricity.

But the fact the bacteria live on electricity isn’t the weird part.

We all fundamentally live on electricity. Whereas, human metabolism is a complex dance shuttling electrons between sugar and oxygen—the bacteria cut to the chase, eating and excreting electrons. In their research, UCLA scientists Kenneth Nealson and his PhD student Annette Rowe have found eight types of electric bacteria.

“This is huge,” says Nealson. “What it means is that there’s a whole part of the microbial world that we don’t know about.”
via Singularity Hub

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Tags : science, electricity,    0 comments  
Jul 28, 2014

Cheering robots replace real fans at Korean baseball

posted by Larra Morris

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A struggling Korean baseball team have invented a novel way to improve atmosphere at their matches - by bringing in a crowd of robot fans.

Hanwha Eagles supporters not able to get to the stadium can control the robot over the internet.

The bots can cheer, chant and perform a Mexican wave - but presumably not invade the pitch.
via BBC News

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Jul 28, 2014

Never stay in a hotel with crappy wi-fi thanks to this useful site

posted by Larra Morris

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When you're traveling, hotel Wi-Fi might be your only source of connectivity, so when you wind up in a hotel and the internet crawwwwwls, it can be a major bummer.

Thanks to sites like SpeedSpot or Hotel Wi-Fi Test, you can avoid unfortunate internet conditions. If you're traveling to a city, simply search for each of the hotels you're searching for, and the test will give you the speed you can expect, as well as other details, like whether or not you have to pay for it. You can also just browse local hotels based on the speeds they offer. From there you can book a room through Hotels.com. They've gotta make money somehow, right?
via Gizmodo

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Jul 28, 2014

One of these Monets was made by a nanoprinter

posted by Larra Morris

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Can you tell the difference between these two images? One’s a bona fide reprint of Claud Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise.” The other? A total fake. The reproduction (on the right) is courtesy of researchers at Singapore’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering. Their goal, of course, was not to simply make a Monet replica, but rather to test an emerging method of printing that could potentially be used in the future to enable high-res displays and print foolproof anti-counterfeiting materials.
via Wired

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Image: Nano Letters

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Jul 25, 2014

Elon Musk tells Stephen Colbert his wild plans for cars, jetpacks, and wireless charging

posted by Laura Domela

Last night, Stephen Colbert's guest on The Colbert Report was Elon Musk. And, after Musk dodged the question about his inevitable slide into supervillainy, he talked a bit about the future of Tesla, SpaceX, his plan to go to Mars, and a few ideas that are somehow even more ambitious.

Musk told Colbert that he and SpaceX are focused on reusability for space flights: building a rocket that can take off, land, refuel, and take off again is incredibly important. He also says that he'll be sending people to space in two years. He talked about Tesla's desire to personalize your car, and told Colbert that he named his Old Faithful. But the most interesting part of the interview came when Musk asked Colbert what he wanted to see in the future. Colbert said he doesn't want cables, he really wants a jetpack, and then said he wanted wireless power to be everywhere, so we'd never run out of power again.
via The Verge

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Tags : future tech,    0 comments  
Jul 25, 2014

NASA seeks commercial satellites to talk to Mars

posted by Larra Morris

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You can land the most advanced spacecraft in history on the Mars, but if you can’t keep in touch with it, it might as well be so much scrap. To prevent that from happening, NASA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to investigate the feasibility of using private satellites to provide communications into the 2020s between Earth and the fleet of exploration probes operating on and around Mars...

NASA’s RFI looks into the possibility of solving the problem is by using privately owned and operating spacecraft to act as relays for NASA Mars probes. The invitation seeks business models that might support such a plan, and invites American industries, universities, nonprofit organizations, NASA centers, and federally funded research and development centers to participate in the study. However, NASA emphasizes that the RFI is strictly for planning and information and that no government money is budgeted for it.
via Gizmag

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Image: ASA/JPL

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