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.
It’s no secret that cyclists are at a disadvantage when sharing the roads with motorized vehicles – not only do bikes offer less in the way of protection and speed than cars, but drivers often don’t even notice that they’re there. The Hornster, a bicycle featuring what is claimed to be the world’s loudest bicycle horn, was designed to bring attention to that fact.
While modern artificial hips are made of a number of high-tech materials, metal is still often the material of choice for younger, more active patients. This is due mainly to the fact that it’s so robust. Unfortunately, however, difficulties can arise in the metal ball-and-socket interface – where the artificial head of the femur meets the artificial socket of the pelvis – if things aren't perfectly aligned. In particular, the metal surfaces can wear against one another
, decreasing the longevity of the implant and potentially causing health problems in the patient. Now, researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation are developing a new type of heavy-duty artificial hip, that contains no metal at all.
It seems that more and more often, we’re hearing about people adding computer functionality to existing products – turning so-called “dumb” devices into “smart” ones. While that’s understandable with electronic appliances such as fridges
and washing machines
, a lot of people might scoff at the idea of a smart ski pole
... wouldn’t that be sort of like a smart pencil sharpener or doorstop? It turns out, however, that software engineer Anthony Griesel’s Neva microprocessor-equipped ski poles could actually be kind of useful.
It costs a lot of money to assess rocket engine parts using professional-grade testing equipment ... and, like most of us, aerospace company XCOR doesn’t have money to burn. So, when it came time to test the bearing components of their new rocket propellant piston pump, the XCOR engineers got creative – they put them in the engine of a motorcycle, and sent it on a road trip.
In a natural phenomenon known as margination, platelets and leukocytes (white blood cells) within the bloodstream move towards the sides of blood vessels and adhere to them. It occurs at wound sites, during the early stages of inflammation. Recently, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National University of Singapore have put that process to work in a microfluidic device that could be used to cleanse the blood, perhaps acting as a treatment for bacteria-related blood disorders such as sepsis.
The practice of surgically removing diseased or damaged tissue within the body is something of a trade-off – quite often, some of the surrounding healthy tissue will also end up being removed in the process. In highly-sensitive areas such as the brain or spinal cord, where a fraction of a millimeter either way can have huge consequences, sometimes surgery is deemed to be just too risky. A newly-developed endoscopic laser “scalpel,” however, looks like it could lower those risks considerably.
On September 27th of 2010, the world’s largest solar-powered boat – the TÛRANOR PlanetSolar
– set out from Monaco on a quest to become the first boat to sail around the world using nothing put the power of the Sun. This afternoon it successfully completed that quest, arriving back in Monaco after 18 months spent circumnavigating the planet.
Although winged micro air vehicles
(MAVs) are pretty impressive in free flight, one of the skills that has proven difficult for them to master is the bird-like perched landing. Aerospace engineers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, however, have now achieved it – they’ve developed an MAV that is capable of landing on an outstretched human hand.
When most people in the western world think of tuk tuks (if they even know what they are), they likely picture rather beat-up, primitive, noisy vehicles that zip around the crowded streets of exotic foreign lands. A Dutch company known as Tuk Tuk Factory, however, recently started building its own electric tuk tuks
for sale within Europe. Apparently the traditional gas-powered vehicles from Asia couldn’t meet European environmental, quality or safety requirements. While the company’s existing models have all been aimed at ferrying around passengers, last week it launched the e-Tuk Vendo – an all-electric three-wheeled mobile catering machine.
good came out of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill
, it was that it got people thinking about technologies for cleaning up future spills. While things like magnetic soap
, and autonomous robots
are all in the works, a group of scientists recently announced the results of their research into another possibility – oil droplet-gathering microsubmarines.