Jul 29, 2014

Scientists investigate radio wave "bursts" from space

posted by Laura Domela

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Two different radio telescopes have now picked up fast "burst" signals that seem to originate outside our galaxy.

Let's cut to the chase: Is it aliens?

Right now, scientists don't have enough examples of the bursts to know what is causing them. It is, however, important to note that there are lots of other potential explanations besides the inevitable first contact hypothesis. That said, they also don't have enough data to rule out the idea of an alien civilization metaphorically pointing their flashlight at our window. So speculate away, friends. It could be anything. All we have right now is enough data to know that the answer is likely to be interesting, even if aliens aren't involved.
via Boing Boing

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Image: Arecibo radio telescope — one of the two that have detected the burst signal
Some rights reserved by hmboo Electrician and Adventurer.

 

Tags : space, communication,    0 comments  
Jul 29, 2014

The beauty of zipper merging, or why you should drive ruder

posted by Laura Domela

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Of all of the reasons for traffic snarls, impending lane closures bring out a particularly brutal combination of road rage and etiquette confusion. Most drivers know the pain of approaching two lanes in this situation; the left one is backed up much further because the right one will close in less than a mile thanks to, say, construction.

Which lane should a driver pick in this scenario? Steer to the left as soon as you see a closure notice and you'll almost certainly go slower; stay in the right and you'll catch stink-eye, honks, and even swerving drivers. Everyone is upset that you're about to essentially cut in line—an act that will require a tense, last-minute merge of your own.

Most driving schools and transportation departments in the United States don't instruct drivers on how to handle this situation or whether they must merge within a certain mileage, leaving this kind of merge up to the grace of your fellow, angry commuters. This week, however, Washington state joined Minnesota in sending a clear message to drivers: merge rudely. It's actually faster and safer.
via ars technica

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Image: Lensinatrix

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Jul 29, 2014

These light paintings show how wi-fi swirls and shifts around you

posted by Larra Morris

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Ever wondered how the Wi-Fi signal varies around your house or workplace? Well, a new project by Luis Hernan combines signal strength sensing with light painting to show you just that.

As part of a project for his PhD in Architecture and Interaction Design, Hernan has createdwhat he calls a Kirlian device: it's an instrument that senses the signal strength of Wi-Fi networks, and then translates the signals into color using LEDs. Using a long exposure, he can then lightpaint entire physical spaces—creating these beautiful images, which visualize how Wi-Fi shifts ann swirls within the walls of a building.
via Gizmodo

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Image: Digital Ethereal 

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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

Tags : automotive,    0 comments  
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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