By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: August 30, 2005, 4:44 PM PDT
How do you prevent glasses from fogging up? Coat them in water, says a group of researchers at MIT.
At the American Chemical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., this week, scientists from MIT explained how they have developed a new material--which consists of thin, alternating layers of tiny glass particles and polymers--that will resist fogging and work in a far wider range of environments than current fog-resistant glass and plastics. In two to five years, glasses, ski goggles and car windshields could be made with the material. So far, the military (the project was funded by DARPA) and two car manufacturers have expressed interest.
The MIT technique is somewhat counterintuitive since fog develops when tiny water droplets form on a glass surface. The thousands of droplets adhere to a glass or plastic surface at random, sharply angled points. The droplets scatter light in random patterns, causing the surfaces to become foggy to the human eye.
Rather than repel water, the new coating attracts it. The water then forms a thin, continuous layer across the surface, reducing the scattering of light without creating distortion. The same principle is at work when you can suddenly see through a foggy scuba mask once under water.
By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: June 16, 2006, 12:45 PM PDT
How does the Namib desert beetle, a native of one of the driest areas of the planet, get water? It drinks the moisture it collects on its back. And someday you may too.
Robert Cohen and Michael Rubner, professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have developed a material inspired by the outer shell of the beetle that is capable of extracting liquids from the atmosphere and channeling it into storage areas.
The material could potentially be used to harvest water from moist air or to create mini-cooling devices. The U.S. military also has expressed interest in using the material, or some variant of it, to collect harmful substances. Such a material would allow machinery or other equipment to disinfect itself.
Greg Kennedy's newest manipulation routine, the juggling of 3, 5 & 7 balls on the inside surface of an 8-foot high inverted cone. Visit www.innovativejuggler.
The extraordinary properties of spider's thread are like a blessing for researchers working on polymers. However, the amazing twisting properties it displays are still not very well understood. How can one explain the fact that a spider suspended by a thread remains completely motionless, instead of rotating like a climber does at the end of a rope? Researchers at the Laboratoire de physique des lasers (CNRS/University of Rennes) have described the exceptional properties of this material which still has some secrets to reveal. The results will be published in Nature on 30 March 2006.
Fasten an object to the end of a vertically suspended thread. Give it a slight twist and let go. You will observe that the object rotates for a certain length of time and with a certain amplitude, depending on the material of the thread. Now observe a spider suspended from its thread: It is stable, doesn't move, spins its thread in a perfectly straight line and always recovers its balance after environmental disturbances.
By experimenting with a torsion pendulum to which they attached a mass equivalent to a spider's weight, researchers at the Laboratoire de physique des lasers (CNRS/University of Rennes) compared the dynamic reactions of different types of thread to a 90° rotation. The results are revealing: a KevlarTM filament (which is synthetic) behaves like an elastic, with reduced oscillations. A copper thread oscillates slightly but does not return to its original shape, and becomes more fragile as a result of these oscillations. Spider's thread, on the other hand, is very efficient at absorbing oscillations, regardless of air resistance, and retains its twisting properties during the experiments. It also returns to its exact original shape. Certain alloys, such as Nitinol, possess similar properties but must be heated to 90° to return to their original shape.
The amazing properties of spider's thread have been known for several years: its ductility, strength and hardness surpass those of the most complex synthetics fibers . It now also seems that through natural selection, spider's thread has evolved into a material with “self-shape memory effect” which allows it to return to its original configuration without outside stimulus. This complex dynamic process has recently been represented as a “stacked” model which the authors use to depict the relaxation of the different proteins in spider's thread.
By Amanda Termen
Published: April 4, 2006, 12:00 PM PDT
For those who've lost their sight to retinal disease, there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
Researchers are making headway on high-tech fixes that would use implants to restore vision to the 25 million around the world who live in darkness because of retinal disease. Some of those implants could move from testing to the marketplace within just a few years.
The efforts are under way at a combination of universities, government agencies and private companies in the U.S., Belgium, Japan and Australia, among other countries.
At the end of this month, the efforts will be measured against each other when thousands of vision researchers gather at ARVO 2006, the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"There is a phenomenal race going on," said Gerald Chader, chief scientific officer at the Doheny Eye Institute at the University of Southern California. "Some of the more rudimentary implants are going to get out on the market fairly soon, and they are going to be really useful."
One of the U.S. efforts is the Boston Retinal Implant Project, which is affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The group is designing a wireless retinal prosthesis, intended to trick the brain into seeing by pinging it with electrical signals.
By Lori Stiles
April 03, 2006
Optical scientists have developed eyeglass lenses that switch focus in a blink of an eye.
Optical scientists at The University of Arizona have developed new switchable, flat, liquid crystal diffractive lenses that can adaptively change their focusing power.
That's great news for those old enough to wear bifocals.
And it's great news for anyone with imperfect vision, for it opens the way for next-generation "smart" eyeglasses -- glasses with built-in automatic focus.
In the foreseeable future, for example, you won't change prescription eyeglasses -- your eye doctor will just tweak a new prescription into the specs you already own.
You could even program your glasses for better than 20-20 vision.
Click here to read the full article.
Seven living with bladders from new process
Monday, April 3, 2006; Posted: 6:32 p.m. EDT (22:32 GMT)
HADDAM NECK, Connecticut (CNN) -- Kaitlyne McNamara no longer worries about feeling different at school.
The 16-year-old was born with spina bifida, a congenital birth defect that stunts brain and spinal cord development. The disease left her with a crippling jumble of nerves jutting out from the base of her spine.
Kaitlyne had dozens of major surgeries as a child, but then another problem surfaced: Her bladder was not functioning properly.
"If she drank a cup of water or a cup of juice, her bladder's pressures were at such an intense point she would have something called a bladder burst," recalled her mother, Tracy McNamara.
Accidents caused by the bladder pressure were another concern.
"At my school they make fun of you ... and I didn't want to become singled out because I was different from everybody else," Kaitlyne said.
A new procedure pioneered at Wake Forest University in North Carolina has apparently solved the problem for Kaitlyne and six other patients.
Scientists grew new bladders from the patients' own cells, which were then transplanted back into the patients' bodies.
Friday, March 31, 2006
By Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal
In Steven Mithen's imagination, the small band of Neanderthals gathered 50,000 years ago around the caves of Le Moustier, in what is now the Dordogne region of France, were butchering carcasses, scraping skins, shaping ax heads -- and singing.
One of the fur-clad men started it, a rhythmic sound with rising and falling pitch, and others picked it up, indicating their willingness to cooperate both in the moment and in the future, when the group would have to hunt or fend off predators. The music promoted "a sense of we-ness, of being together in the same situation facing the same problems," suggests Prof. Mithen, an archaeologist at England's Reading University. Music, he says, creates "a social rather than a merely individual identity." And that may solve a longstanding mystery.
Music gives biologists fits. Its ubiquity in human cultures, and strong evidence that the brain comes preloaded with musical circuits, suggest that music is as much a product of human evolution as, say, thumbs. But that raises the question of what music is for. Back in 1871, Darwin speculated that human music, like bird songs, attracts mates. Or, as he put it, prelinguistic human ancestors tried "to charm each other with musical notes and rhythm."
Some scientists today share that view. "Music was shaped by sexual selection to function mostly as a courtship display," Geoffrey Miller, of the University of New Mexico, argued in a 2001 paper. But like Darwin, he bases that conclusion on the belief that music has "no identifiable survival benefits." If a trait doesn't help creatures survive, then it can persist generation after generation only if it helps them reproduce.
Studies in neuroscience and anthropology, however, suggest that music did help human ancestors survive, particularly before language. In "The Singing Neanderthals," which Harvard University Press is publishing Friday, Prof. Mithen weaves those studies into an intriguing argument that "language may have been built on the neural underpinnings of music."
Break Down Way is a highly interactive website that provides online guitar & bass lessons from masters such as Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, founding members of the legendary Jefferson Airplane & Hot Tuna, Woody Mann, and many more teachers to follow.
With a few clicks of the mouse their streaming instructional videos enable students to learn from and interact with these musical legends.
Jorma Kaukonen, a guitar-playing deity universally respected by his peers and ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the best 100 guitar players ever, also keeps a personal blog at http://www.jormakaukonen.com/.
To read a very interesting article about how Jorma is returning to his Jewish roots, click on the following link:
From the perennial favorite website How Stuff Works, a discussion on the technology behind animated tattoos.
Before you run to your nearest animated tattoo shop hoping to implant a full-motion video, please be sure to think about the possible dangers associated with such actions. According to How Stuff Works:
First and foremost it is currently illegal to give or get animated tattoos. Beyond that there are safety concerns. Jacob Schlieb of The American Society of Plastic Surgeons had this to say about animated tattoos: "If you are performing an elective surgery without a medical license then you are in violation of the law. That's the bottom line. Beyond that there are dozens of reasons not to perform these procedures and certainly more reasons not to have it done. This technology has not been subject to any sort of monitored, scientific or medical trials. We don't know if it's safe to have these appliances implanted in the skin...they could result in any number of health problems." Schlieb continues, "...that's not even touching on how insanely negligent and dangerous it is to have this procedure done by persons with no medical training, without proper facilities or sterilization. This is tantamount to back-alley surgery."
Singer dodged specific questions about particular dangers associated with animated tattoos, but Pinter did say, "We don't really talk about the batteries a lot. If anything in this contraption is gonna make you balloon out with hundreds of tumors it's gonna be that battery rig. But we don't really know for sure. That's not going in the article is it?"
Of course not, Carl.
New iPod software lets users set maximum volume
Wednesday, March 29, 2006; Posted: 11:56 a.m. EST (16:56 GMT)
CUPERTINO, California (AP) -- Owners of recent iPods will now be able to set how loud their digital music players can go.
Apple Computer Inc., facing complaints and a lawsuit claiming the popular player can cause hearing loss, made the setting available as part of a new software update Wednesday. The free download applies to the iPod Nano and the iPod models with video-playback capabilities.
Parents also can use the feature to set a limit on their child's iPod and lock it with a code, the company added. (Full story)
To read the full article click here.
Via BoingBoing, the following video is from a 1972 documentary on ARPAnet, a precursor to today's Internet.
An inspirational ad from Apple Computer.
iPodObserver.com is a popular--and excellent--site to visit for information on all things iPod. For instance, I recently discovered the following bit of news from iPodObserver:
Tuesday, March 14th, 2006 at 3:40 PM - by Staff
Apple, which last month ranked eleventh on Fortune magazine's list of America's most-admired companies, is number nine on the global list, thanks to the revenue boost it has received from the iPod's success. While it's not available on the publication's Web site yet, Macworld UK has the details.
"Globally, innovation proved the key to success, with Apple's iPod revenue launching the computer company straight into ninth place," Fortune said. The company earned first place on the list of the world's most-admired innovators, according to Macworld UK.
More than 8,600 senior executives and business analysts in 23 countries were surveyed by Hays Group to compile the list. The management consultancy firm has handled the job for Fortune since 1997.
The motto got cut off. It reads: "Helping you find where other people aren't." The FAQ page is also sure to become a classic.
In the spirit of keeping this a true kitchen sink, Ian's Shoelace Site shows many weblicious ways to tie a....you got it! A shoelace. Check them out:
"Ian Knot" = Ian's Fast Shoelace Knot - Recommended!
"Ian Knot", the World's Fastest Shoelace Knot: Make a loop with both ends and simultaneously pull them through each other to form an almost instant knot. It's a truly revolutionary way to tie your shoelaces!
Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot - Recommended!
This knot is the end result of analysing numerous secure knots and combining their best features, with the emphasis on symmetry: Make two loops and pass them both through the "hole" in the middle. Slippery laces or serious sports are two good reasons for using this knot.
Check out these fun alarm clocks featured on hiptechblog.com:
Jigsaw Puzzle Alarm Clock
Alarm sounded! Wanna shut that dreaded noise off? Sorry, gotta complete the puzzle first. The puzzle pieces fires out from the clock at the set time, and by the time you manage to piece back the puzzles, I bet you would be quite awake.
iPod Alarm Clock
What’s better than waking up to your favorite song on your iPod? Loud songs, gradually loudening songs, or even birds chirping, your pick. The clock also features a cool dock, stereo speakers and a built-in FM/AM radio.
Wooden Alarm Clock
The time on this clock seems to mysteriously appear on its smooth wooden surface. But it is in fact being shone through a layer of wood that is very thin. With no visible controls and buttons, the clock is perfect for minimalist lovers.
Honda demonstrates the new version of Asimo the humanoid robot at the Welcome Plaza in Aoyama, Japan. Asimo also appears in the following Honda commercial:
By Nick Britten
A motorist was trapped in his car driving at almost 130 mph for 60 miles after the accelerator jammed.
His terrifying journey, which was followed by four police cars and a helicopter, ended when he smashed the car into a roundabout, flipping it on its roof.
The world's most expensive cars, according to Forbes.
From 101cookbooks.com, a fun little taste test with liquid nitrogen and a little discussion on molecular gastronomy as well as additional links.
Let me start this post with a disclaimer. I wasn't much of a science geek in college. At the time I was more interested in apertures than atoms, cyanotypes over cryogenics, and vignetting before viscosity. My interest in chemistry pretty much started and stopped in the photography lab. So, it is with a bit of wide-eyed wonderment and curiosity that I observe the molecular gastronomy movement. Watching what is going on is both exciting and intimidating - the laboratory is melding with the kitchen and vice versa. A whole new vocabulary of textures, tastes, and techniques is emerging and evolving.
Quebec-based Bombardier's Embrio is a concept prototype that may or may not make production. Using gyroscope technology to balance riders, the Embrio is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. The vehicle is made of lightweight materials, such as aluminum, magnesium, and nylon, and weighs only 360 pounds.
Sorry, I meant to write Wafah Dufour. I wish her the best, but does she need to capitalize on her relationship with Osama? Maybe she needs the money--who knows?
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Osama bin Laden's niece, an aspiring singer who posed for a sexy photo shoot in a men's magazine last year, has signed up for a reality television show about her life and her as yet unfulfilled "quest for stardom."
Wafah Dufour Bin Ladin, whose mother was married to the al Qaeda leader's half brother, was born in California but lived in Saudi Arabia from the age of three to 10.
Microsoft said Tuesday it had no involvement in the case of a Chinese journalist charged with sending subversive e-mails abroad under a psuedonym using a Hotmail account.
The indictment of Li Yuanlong, a 45-year-old reporter, follows accusations that Internet giant Yahoo provided evidence to Chinese authorities that led to the imprisonment of two journalists.
Tue Mar 7, 9:28 PM ET
A team of American-led divers has discovered a new crustacean in the South Pacific that resembles a lobster and is covered with what looks like silky, blond fur, French researchers said Tuesday.
Scientists said the animal, which they named Kiwa hirsuta, was so distinct from other species that they created a new family and genus for it.
The divers found the animal in waters 7,540 feet deep at a site 900 miles south of Easter Island last year, according to Michel Segonzac of the French Institute for Sea Exploration.
Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
LiveScience.com Tue Mar 7, 11:00 AM ET
There’s an old joke that if you were reincarnated, you might want to come back as a Styrofoam cup.
Why? Because they last forever. Ba-dum-bum.
Despite being made 95 percent of air, Styrofoam’s manufactured immortality has posed a problem for recycling efforts. More than 3 million tons of the durable material is produced every year in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Very little of it is recycled.
Help may come from bacteria that have been found to eat Styrofoam and turn it into useable plastic. This is the stuff recycling dreams are made of: Yesterday’s cup could become tomorrow’s plastic spoon.
A young woman confined to a wheelchair for seven years is not just walking again but singing and dancing in amateur shows, after a “miracle” cure using electrical implants in the brain.
Amy Westall, 20, is the most dramatic example of the experimental treatment developed by doctors to tackle Parkinson’s disease, depression and even paralysis.
The “rewiring” of the brain involves guiding electrodes to areas known to govern specific functions. A small current is delivered from a battery implanted beneath the collar bone and connected by wires to the electrodes in the brain itself.
For a country roughly the size of Yosemite National Park, Dubai certainly has some of the most opulent designs in the world.
Written by Mark Eldridge
Thursday, 02 March 2006
The Biggest Subwoofer Ever Made
The 60-inch subwoofer absolutely has the capability to produce SPL levels well above 180 dB. It is simple math and the laws of physics.
Actually, before designing it, we looked at a comparison between a large number of conventional subwoofers, or a single giant one. After we did the math, the obvious choice was the one giant woofer. It's output displacement is comparable to 160+ ten inch woofers. It can move a lot of air!
The pope gets an iPod
March 3, 2006 3:12 PM PST
Pope Benedict XVI got an iPod on Friday, thanks to a group of workers at Vatican Radio.
According to a Catholic News Service story, the pontiff got a 2GB white Nano, loaded with, among other things, the radio station's programming in English, Italian and German, as well as classical tunes from Mozart, Chopin and Stravinsky.
The Nano was given to the Pope following a visit to Vatican Radio, CNS reported.
The following are a few underwater pictures from J.P. Trenque, the 2005 winner of BBC's Photographer of the Year competition.
Perhaps the success/failure model of success is more dominant in most humans (at least in many "driven" students) than is the happiness/unhappiness model. There's got to be some way to combine the two...
In any case, the insights may be relevant to humans of all ages, not just to high school students.
A Harvard Interviewer's Honest Assessment
They come to me with SATs pushing 1600 and more awards than military heroes. The valedictorians. The student leaders. The super-jocks. They are applying to Harvard. They are the children you want your kids to become.
For the past 17 years, I've been an alumni interviewer for Harvard. As part of its admissions process, Harvard extends applicants an opportunity to meet with one of its alumni. To personalize the process. To allow its applicants to "come alive," apart from their strategically packaged portfolios.
This is an interesting article that sheds light on instinctive cooperative or altruistic behavior among human beings.
Study Suggests That the Capacity for Altruism Emerges As Early As 18 Months of Age
By LAURAN NEERGAARD AP Medical Writer
WASHINGTON Mar 2, 2006 (AP)— Oops, the scientist dropped his clothespin. Not to worry a wobbly toddler raced to help, eagerly handing it back. The simple experiment shows the capacity for altruism emerges as early as 18 months of age.
Toddlers' endearing desire to help out actually signals fairly sophisticated brain development, and is a trait of interest to anthropologists trying to tease out the evolutionary roots of altruism and cooperation.
The AJAX interface is very responsive, much like Google's. Because the left-hand column is collapsible, it is possible to view a larger area, making it easier to view. Although the map does not have a "Get Directions" option yet, it appears poised to give Google Maps a run for the money.
In discussing the company's priorities for 2006, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt mentioned that Google wants to expand the size of its Internet audience and to expand the number of products. Are there still Internet users who don't use Google at least once a day? Google will undoubtedly churn out a gazillion new products in the upcoming year, but how many Google products will finally come out of their beta-induced comas?
It's understandable when a middle school student faces expulsion for posting graphic threats against a classmate on MySpace.com. However, what is the justification for suspending 20 of his classmates for viewing the posting?
According to Bob Metz, the district assistant superintendent of secondary education, the suspensions "were appropriate because the incident involved student safety." However, a big questions lingers: how does viewing a website jeopardize student safety in any way, when the student viewing the tthreatening post did not write it?