technology: May 2010 Archives

275x250.jpg A French artist has unveiled a working hoverboard as his latest creation - and revived the childhood dreams of men everywhere.

Nils Guadagnin says his creation - a copy of the hoverboard from the movie Back to the Future II - was created with the help of a Dutch firm of levitation experts.

The life-size model has gone on show in a number of galleries and uses an electromagnetic system in the board and plinth to levitate, while a laser system stabilises it in the air.

Unfortunately the hover board is not powerful enough to support the weight of someone standing on it... so your ideas of recreating any Marty McFly moments will have to be put on hold, for now.

275x250.jpg A UK man has become the first person in the world to be infected by a computer virus - and he did it himself, intentionally.

Mark Gasson contaminated a computer chip which had earlier been inserted into his hand as part of research into human enhancement and implantable devices.

The the University of Reading scientist had been implanted with the RFID chip to do things like access buildings, unlock his mobile phone and be tracked.

But then he infected the implant with a virus to prove that (he) could then pass on the virus to other computers.

275x250.jpgA video has been uncovered by film buffs which appears to show the worlds first ever mobile phone… all the way back in 1922.

Archivists at British Pathé say they stumbled on the silent film - titled 'Eve's Wireless' - in their archives, and could't believe what they saw.

The clip shows two well dressed women in New York carrying the hefty-looking device which they connect to a fire hydrant via a long cable.

An umbrella is then erected, which appears to act as an aerial, and the pair to use the phone to make a call.

They are then shown chatting to an operator who then plays a gramophone record for them… kind of like a rudimentary Spotify.

275x250.jpg A British driver has set a new lawnmower land speed record (yes, it exists) by reaching 87mph on his trusty grass cutter.

Don Wales smashed the previous 80.792mph lawnmower land speed record at Pendine Sands, in west Wales with a verified time of 87.833mph.

To set the record Don - whose grandfather Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the land speed record in 1924 - had to complete two timed runs, just after cutting a patch of grass.

Project RunningBlade converted a regular ride-on mower into the speedy vehicle by using a more powerful engine, stripping the machine of extra weight and adding new wheels… and Don can now mow his lawn in 14.7seconds.

275x250.jpg The biggest inflatable airship in the world has passed its first tests -- after a massive six hour inflation.

Measuring 76-metres long and 20-metres in diameter, the Bullet 580 airship is designed to carry payloads of almost one tonne to 20,000 feet.

Makers say the £5.5million helium-powered craft will travel at 80mph and offers a cost-efficient alternative to fixed-wing aircraft for carrying cargo.

The Bullet 580 will be used for homeland security and disaster relief -- if they can get people to stop laughing the fact that it looks like a giant inflated condom.

275x250.jpgThe Apple iPhone has been voted a more important invention than the combustion engine and space travel.

A study of 4,000 Brits also placed the iPhone ahead of things like the car, camera and flushing toilet in the list of 100 most important inventions.

While the wheel came top - followed by the aeroplane, the lightbulb and the worldwide web in fourth - the iPhone figured surprisingly high.

In fact, the Steve Jobs special came in as the eighth most important invention in the world, just behind computers, the telephone and Penicillin.

At least it didn't come above Penicillin, because as far as we know there's not yet an app for curing diseases… though some iPhone users like to think otherwise.

A robot has been used to conduct a wedding ceremony in Japan -- well where else was it going to be?

The i-Fairy robot, according to makers Kokoro Co the first non-human ever to lead a wedding, costs £45,000 and has flashing eyes and plastic pigtails.

Yesterday the programmable 4ft tall robot led a wedding in central Tokyo between bride Satoko Inouye and groom Tomohiro Shibata, in front of 50 guests.

During the ceremony the i-Fairy directed the couple to exchange vows and even said in a tinny voice "Please lift the bride's veil," before asking the pair to kiss.

When the inevitable robot uprising happens, we will no doubt look back at moments like this an question why we didn't see it coming… until then enjoy the cute video.

275x250.jpg A designer has taken the already pricey Apple iPad and given it a high-end makeover before offering it for sale -- at £130,000.

Katherine Hughes from Liverpool started off with a 64GB Wi-Fi & 3G Apple iPad before replacing the aluminium back for one made of solid gold.

Weighing 2,100 grams the 22ct gold has added to the heft of the device, but Katherine didn't stop there. The Apple logo on the rear is mad from 25.5 cts ‘I'F' Flawless diamonds, 53 in total.

Only ten of the gold £129,995 iPads will be made… so if you like your tech gaudy and expensive, you should probably act fast.

275x250.jpg Aircraft makers Boeing have revealed a futuristic spy plane called the Phantom Ray, which can cruise at 614mph, can't be tracked by radar and doesn't need a pilot.

While such planes would normally be built to specification for a customer like the US military, Boeing say the Phantom Ray is their "test bed" for new technologies.

The sleek-looking plane - based on a prototype the firm made for the US Air Force - has a 50ft wingspan, measures 36ft long and has a gross weight of 36,500lbs.

Bosses say the unmanned airborne system (UAS) will operate at an altitude of 40,000ft, with initial test flights scheduled for December… prompting countless UFO reports.

275x250.jpgPatients undergoing operations at a Scottish hospital are being given the option of watching DVDs rather than receiving anaesthetic.

Docs claim watching a DVD like of Only Fools And Horses during an operation can distract patients from pain, meaning they need less anaesthetic.

Dr Nick Pace of Gartnavel Hospital had idea after being tasked with trying to reduce the number of people having knee surgery who opted for a general anaesthetic.

It's now suggested patients are numbed from the waist down and watch a portable DVD player to distract them from the surgery sights and sounds.

About half of patients now opt for watching a movie and a spinal anaesthetic rather than full body anaesthetic… but if they started offering popcorn they could get that number up.

275x250.jpgSilent electric cars could soon be fitted with Star Wars-style sound effects in a bid to warn pedestrians where they are.

The European Commission is worried the silent operation of electric cars could mean they become a danger on the road with pedestrians.

As such it plans to bring in rules that manufactures must make a minimum volume noise in place of the 'warning' sound of an engine.

But rather than simply replicate the sounds of an engine some makers are looking at using signature sounds more akin to Star Wars.

A spokesperson for Lotus Engineering says the new Evora 414E Hybrid even makes a sound similar to the Millennium Falcon… but you don't have to dress up as Han Solo to drive it, unfortunately.

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