An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
If you take a recumbent tricycle and enclose it in an aerodynamic fuselage, what you end up with is known as a velomobile
. The vehicles are significantly faster than bicycles on the flats and downhills, plus they offer more weather protection, but they do
tend to be heavy – this can make hill-climbing quite an ordeal. Some manufacturers compensate for this limitation by offering electric assist motors as optional extras, although these just add even more weight, along with boosting what is already often a pretty high price tag. Toronto-based BlueVelo, however, has taken an interesting approach with its new Hornet velomobile. It was designed
around its electric assist motor, which is included in the vehicle’s relatively low price.
Although there is currently no cure for HIV, the body does
already contain cells that fight the virus – the problem is, there just aren’t enough of them to completely get rid of it. In 2009
, scientists at UCLA performed a proof-of-concept experiment, in which they were able to grow these CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocytes (better known as infection-fighting “T cells”) from genetically engineered human stem cells. Now, in a subsequent study, they have demonstrated that these engineered cells can seek out and kill HIV-infected cells in a living organism.
Have you ever mixed corn starch with water? If you have, you probably noticed how it oozed like a liquid when flowing across a surface, yet hardened like a solid if you suddenly struck it. That’s because the corn starch/water mixture is what’s known as a non-Newtonian fluid – the particles it’s composed of slide past one another easily when moving slowly, but jam against each other when forced to move quickly. Recently, a group of students from Cleveland’s Case Western University encased such a fluid within sturdy bags, to create a simple product that could be used to temporarily fill potholes in roads.
People who want to use capacitive touchscreen devices outdoors on chilly days currently have to wear conductive gloves, such as Agloves
– that, or they just have to endure getting cold fingers. As anyone who lives in a truly cold climate knows, however, there are times when gloves just aren’t warm enough. That’s where ISGLOVES come in.
, and SAFFiR
: You may be able to win your makers two million bucks! That’s the amount that DARPA is offering to the victorious team in its recently-announced Robotics Challenge. The winning robot will be the one that best meets a series of challenges, designed to test its ability to provide assistance in disaster scenarios.
For some time now – whether by using computers or clay – forensic scientists have been able to make three-dimensional reconstructions of the faces of the deceased, based on the contours of their skulls. More recently, however, software has been developed that can determine the sex and precise ancestral background of a person no longer with us, via a set of skull measurements.
When people are building things such as decks or fences, they often use lumber that has been pressure-treated with preservatives. While this does indeed help the wood last longer, the chemicals will gradually leach out into the ground, harming organisms within it. Now, however, researchers have found a way of using nanotechnology to keep the preservatives in the wood.
Last July, we provided readers with specs and renderings of the Adastra superyacht, which was being constructed in China by boat builder John Shuttleworth. While it might have seemed like a fanciful concept at the time, yesterday the completed yacht was launched in China’s Pearl River.
When it comes to implantable electronic devices such as pacemakers, biosensors
or drug-delivery devices
, there are a few options regarding power sources. While batteries could be used in some
applications, doing so would require surgically replacing the implant when its battery runs out. Radio wave-based
systems are instead often used, in which power is “beamed” to the device from a source outside the body. According to researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems, however, such systems often have a limited range, and are easily affected by factors such as location, position and movement. Instead, they’ve developed what they claim is a better, more versatile system.
The monitoring of air quality can be a tricky business. Gases may be blown into the sampling site from another area, they may leak out of an air sample before it can be analyzed, or the sampling container itself may introduce
compounds, emitted through off-gassing. If samples are being gathered in remote areas, it can also be difficult getting bulky equipment to and from the sampling site. Now, scientists from Sandia National Laboratories have announced a tiny new type of air sampler, that addresses these and other challenges.