Sep 19, 2014

When technology advances to the point where we’re undermining our evolutionary advantages

posted by Laura Domela

Something amazing is happening here. In the video below, nesting swallows become trapped in a building when they add doors. The birds soon learn, though, that they can get the doors to automatically open by triggering the motion sensors. This is a story, obviously, of how smart birds are, but here’s what struck me: We often think about human technology as for humans. In this case, however, birds adapted the technology for their own very similar needs (to get in and out).

via Pacific Standard 

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Sep 19, 2014

Google works with NASA to test cars without backup drivers

posted by Larra Morris

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NASA employees could soon cross paths with an unusual sight — self-driving robot cars without any human drivers or even steering wheels. Google plans to test a new self-driving car by using NASA's 2000-acre Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California in late 2014 or early 2015.

The planned tests would mark the first time that Google has tested its self-driving cars on streets without having a human driver for backup.
via IEEE Spectrum

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Image: Google

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Sep 19, 2014

3D-printed syringe pumps could cut the cost of scientific research

posted by Larra Morris

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Used in laboratories to administer small amounts of liquid for drug delivery or chemistry research, syringe pumps can cost research labs hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But researchers from Michigan Technological University have now created an open-source library of 3D-printable designs, enabling anyone in need of the commonly used scientific tool to produce their own at a fraction of the cost.

The team of Michigan Tech students, led by Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Joshua Pearce, published a series of designs, each pertaining to different components of a syringe pump. Some parts would still need to be purchased separately, such as the electric motor that pushes the fluid and the syringe itself, but the remaining parts can be built using a RepRap 3D printer.
via Gizmag

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Sep 19, 2014

Using a theremin for medical applications

posted by Larra Morris

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[Eswar] is not an ordinary 16 years old boy. He figured out a noninvasive way to measure breathing in hospitals for less than $50. He is using a theremin to measure the rise and fall of a patient’s chest. For our curious readers, this touch-less instrument was invented back in 1929 by the Russian inventor [Leon Theremin]. It uses the heterodyne principle and two oscillators to generate an audio signal. One electronic oscillator creates an inaudible high pitch tone while another variable oscillator is changed by adding capacitance to an antenna.

As you can guess the space between the patient’s chest and the antennas placed around the bed forms a tiny capacitor which varies when exhaling. With three simple TTL chips and a little guessing [Eswar] had a working prototype ready to be implemented in the real world.
via Hack a Day

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Sep 18, 2014

16 cryptids that might (or might not) exist

posted by Laura Domela

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Cryptozoology is the study of creatures whose existence has yet to be—or else cannot entirely be—proved or disproved by science. These creatures, known collectively as cryptids, include examples like the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and the Himalayan Yeti, yet these famous cases are by no means the only ones on record. In fact, practically every country and corner of the globe has its own legendary monster or mystery creature that supposedly dwells there, from giant bats in Java to enormous water hounds in Ireland.
via Mental Floss

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Image: istock

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Sep 18, 2014

Engineers made a battery-free radio the size of an ant

posted by Larra Morris

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The tiny chips, which are powered by harvesting radio signals and don't require external power, are small enough to fit on gadgets in your home, but still powerful enough to send and receive transmissions. The hope, according to the creators, is for device-makers to start using the chips in gadgets for the Internet of Things. Add one of the chips to a lightbulb, and make your stuff a little a smarter — able to communicate with you and all the electronics around you.
via The Verge

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Sep 18, 2014

"World's first" 3D printed car created and driven by Local Motors

posted by Larra Morris

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The acceleration of 3D printing means that even cars can be now printed. The Local Motors Strati 3D car was printed live at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2014 last week. The printing process took just 44 hours.
via Gizmag

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