technology: November 2009 Archives

275x250.jpgDaredevil inventor and pilot Yves Rossy has crashed into the ocean after trying to fly from Africa to Europe with a winged 150mph jetpack.

It is thought a malfunction with his jet wing caused Rossy - dubbed Rocket Man - to crash land in the Straits of Gibraltar shortly after his launch.

Rossy had leapt from a plane at 6,500ft before extending his eight-foot carbon fibre wings and engaging his four-cylinder jet pack.

This should have propelled him to 150mph for the 15 minute journey which would have landed him a place in the record books as the first person to make a intercontinental crossing using Jet-powered wings.

But after about 8 minutes, cameras lost contact with him and the next thing anyone knew was that he had parachuted into the ocean.

275x250.jpgDesigners have created a supersonic car which they claim will be able to reach speeds of 1,000 mph breaking the current land speed record.

The Bloodhound Super Sonic Car will essentially be a rocket with wheels and attached to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine.

It will measure 12.8m-long, weight 6.4-tonne and be capable of travelling faster than bullet fired from a handgun. It will accelerate from 0-1,050mph in just 40 seconds.

The first attempt at breaking the 1997 record of 763mph will take place in 2011 -- after that they might test their bullet hypothesis.


275x250.jpgIt is easy to think that everyone watches TV on 42 inch LCDs or on their computer nowadays.

But 30,000 people in the UK still tune in to the X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing on a black and white set, it has been claimed.

TV Licensing has revealed that almost 30,000 Brits still use old tech televisions rather than newer flat screens or the online services like the iPlayer.

Despite BBC1 and ITV started broadcasting in colour 40 years ago, these people have continued to watch everything in black and white -- which probably means they are not snooker fans.

They will also have saved thousands of pounds by not upgrading with evert tech advance, it puts you need for a new 50 inch HD LCD TV this Christmas into perspective doesn't it?

Harry Potter invisibility cloak could exist

275x250.jpgScientists say a Harry Potter invisibility cloak could soon be real after they were given the go-ahead for a £4.9 million project.

Boffins from Imperial College London have been given the money by the Leverhulme Trust after proving that metamaterials can bend, control and manipulate light and other kinds of electromagnetic waves.

They will now work to create these materials - which lie at the border of physics and materials science - which are believed to be the key to invisibility.

It is claimed such a device would grab light as it approaches and forces it to flow smoothly around the cloak instead of striking it - rendering the object concealed beneath it invisible to the human eye.

While we don't pretend to understand the science behind this, we can't wait to be able to spend our days sneaking around under the cover.

275x250.jpgWhen you think cutting edge physics, pop-up books may not be the first thing that spring to mind.

But that hasn't stopped the boffins behind the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva from releasing a pop-up book about their experiment.

The 'Voyage to the Heart of Matter' book by Emma Sanders aims to explain the science behind the experiment in which protons travelling at nearly the speed of light collide 40 million times a second within the heart of particle detectors.

Pages detail how big the 27km tunnels are in relation to Geneva, how the particle detectors were built and readers are even able to build their own ATLAS device - one of the six particle detector experiments at LHC - albeit a non functioning paper one.

Men don't read gadget instruction manuals

275x250.jpgIt won't come a much of a surprise that men quickly discard the instruction manuals for their gadgets without ever looking at them.

But a study of 75,000 calls to a gadget helpline has found they should probably take a look - 12 percent of calls come from men who have forgotten to plug their gadget in, just seven percent of women make the same mistake.

But then again, the women are more likely to read the instruction before calling for help, 76 percent compared to just 36 percent of men read the manual first.

Personally we think the really odd news here is that 36 percent of men read the manual rather than just poking their gadget till it starts working.

Ford set to launch inflatable seat belts

275x250.jpgA car company had revealed a range of inflatable seat belts which they claim will reduce head, chest and neck injuries.

Ford, which will debut the belts in their new Explorer, say the inflatable device spreads crash forces over five times more area of the body than conventional seat belts.

This means that it reduces pressure on the chest in an accident and helps control head and neck motion, which can cause injury. Upon sensing a crash the belt inflates in just 40 milliseconds filling a tubular air bag.

Cold compressed gas, flows through a specially designed buckle from a cylinder housed below the seat to inflate the belt… just make sure you aren't wearing anything too spiky.

275x250.jpgBoffins have created a piece of software which can tell why a baby is crying - after listening to it for just five seconds.

But that's not all, that have now released it as an iPhone app meaning you can just hold your phone near the baby and find out whether it is hungry, tired, bored, stressed or angry.

Biloop Technologies in Barcelona say that in clinical tests their £5.99 'Cry Translator' app had a 96 percent accuracy level in correctly deciphering the meaning of a baby’s cry.

Maybe that other four percent were crying because their parents kept waving an iPhone over their head rather than giving them a teddy.

The hat which forces you to smile (Video)

A design student has created a hat which is guaranteed to make you smile -- because it will poke a spike into the back of your head if you don't.

Lauren McCarthy's "Happiness Hat" is described as a wearable conditioning device that detects if you're smiling and provides pain feedback if you're not.

While it looks like any other wooly hat, it hides a sinister secret, an arm which reaches down your face detects if you are smiling and if your not it inflicts pain.

If the smile sensor detect your smile is turning into a frown it send a message to a battery-powered servo motor which moves a metal spike into the back of your head.

The less you smile, the more painful the spike is said to get - so this is how Santa keeps his elves looking so happy. 

275x250.jpgThe X-ray machine has been named as the most important scientific invention by the London Science Museum.

A poll of over 50,000 people found that nearly one-in-five opted for the 100-year-old machines ahead of other innovations.

It beat off competition from the likes of the Apollo 10 capsule, Stephenson's Rocket and the Pilot ACE Computer which museum bosses had expected to do well in the vote.

But medical inventions took the top three slots with Penicillin and the DNA double helix coming in second and third place.

A spokesperson for the museum said: "X-rays have radically changed the way we see and understand our world - our bodies in particular." Yeah and they sure beat a photocopier for drunken scanning at the office Christmas party too.

World's largest cinema screen at Pinewood

275x250.jpgBosses at Pinewood Studios have announced plans for the world’s largest cinema screen which will measure a massive 73.1 metres wide by 18.3 metres high.

The screen - normally home to a under water filming facility - will be revealed this weekend with the movie Mission Impossible.

If successful, it will take beat the current record held by Norway's Spektrum in Oslo which held a screening of Independence Day which measured 40.24m in width in 1996.

Tickets for the outdoor drive-in screening start from £35 -- but with a screen that size you will probably be able to see it from miles away.

275x250.jpgA competition has just launched in the Mojave Desert for teams planning to build an elevator to space… yes you read that correctly.

For the next couple of days Space Elevator Games will see robotic machines climbing a 1km high cable (held by a helicopter) and will be powered by laser beams.

The idea is that if this can be achieved, the technology could develop into a fully fledged Space Elevator like that in Arthur C. Clarke's "The Fountains of Paradise."

If a space elevator could one day be attached to a mass in geosynchronous orbit, it would offer much cheaper space travel than rockets… and give Starbucks somewhere else to open a branch.

275x250.jpgBoffins have created a robot which sits on you dashboard and tells you the best route, when you are running low on petrol and even when to do the shopping.

AIDA (Affective Intelligent Driving Agent) has been created by experts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to change the way we interact with our cars.

They say that rather than acting like your GPS, the AIDI robot learns about your routines and even adapts depending on your mood - picked up by cameras assessing your facial expression.

It then communicates with the driver through a expressive robot 'face' and will tell you when you need to go to the supermarket or fill up with petrol… sound's like my wife.

275x250.jpgGlasses which 'hear' a foreign language and automatically translate what's being said, before beaming it onto the lens, have been revealed.

NEC say their Tele Scouter glasses will let a wearer see exactly what people around them are saying, even in other languages.

It features a microphone and camera which record foreign languages before converting it to text and running it through a translation computer worn on the wrist.

The translation is them beamed onto a tiny retinal display for the wearer to read what was just said - the entire process happens in a fraction of a second.

Does this mean Brits will just start reading slower and louder? 




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