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Ben Coxworth

Ben Coxworth

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.

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— Science

3.2 billion-pixel Large Synoptic Survey Telescope camera comes a step closer to reality

By - May 2, 2012 9 Pictures
Although the pixel count for consumer cameras continues to rise, they will all pale in comparison to the 3,200-megapixel Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) camera. Although the enormous astronomical camera has yet to be built, last week the U.S. Department of Energy gave its approval for the project to proceed to the next phase of development. This means that a detailed engineering design can begin, along with a production schedule and budget. If everything goes according to plan, construction on what will be the world’s largest digital camera should begin in 2014. Read More
— Science

Squid-inspired tech could lead to color-changing smart materials

By - May 2, 2012 3 Pictures
If you’ve ever watched a cephalopod such as a squid changing color, then you’ll know that it’s a pretty amazing process – they can instantly change the appearance of their skin from dark to light and back again, or even create pulsating bands of color that travel across it. They are able to do this thanks to muscles that manipulate the pigmentation of their skin. Now, scientists from the University of Bristol have succeeded in creating artificial muscles and cells, that might someday allow for the same sort of color changes in smart clothing that can camouflage itself against different backgrounds. Read More
— Medical

New concept could lead to low-cost DNA sequencing in everyday clinical practices

By - May 1, 2012 1 Picture
Doctors and scientists wishing to decode a human genome can now do so in a day for US$1,000 a pop using the recently-released Ion Proton sequencer. With a price tag of $149,000, though, the machine isn’t cheap – nor is it the be-all and end-all of desktop gene sequencing. For one thing, the tiny $900 MinION sequencer should be available soon. Also, a team of scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Yale University have now developed a concept of their own, which could end up providing an even less expensive high-speed sequencer. Read More
— Electronics

Engineers produce multiple colors of lasers using a single material

By - May 1, 2012 1 Picture
Ordinarily, if you wanted to include blue, green and red laser light sources in the same device (such as a BluRay player), you would need to build in three separate lasers – each one incorporating different semiconductor materials. Now, however, engineers from Rhode Island’s Brown University have succeeded in creating different colors of lasers, all using the same nanocrystal-based semiconductor. Among other things, this opens the door to digital displays that could produce various colors of laser light simultaneously. Read More
— Science

"Decorated" nanowires could lead to better batteries and solar cells

By - May 1, 2012 3 Pictures
Higher-density batteries, more efficient thin-film solar cells, and better catalysts may all soon be possible, thanks to a new technique that allows nanowires to be “decorated” with nanoparticles. Using the novel technology, scientists from Stanford University have been able to festoon the outside surfaces of nanowires with intricate chains of metal oxide or noble metal nanoparticles, thereby drastically boosting the effective surface area of the nanowires. Other researchers have previously tried to achieve the same end result, but apparently never with such success. Read More
— Digital Cameras

Compact MoveeGo camera rigs are designed especially for small camcorders

By - April 30, 2012 3 Pictures
There was a time not so long ago, when amateur film-makers were simply told, “If you want your footage to look professional, use a tripod.” While that advice still stands, the market is now being flooded with relatively inexpensive devices that allow basement videographers to smoothly execute camera moves that were previously only possible using Hollywood-style gear. One of the latest contenders in this field is MoveeGo, a two-device system that lets users of small cameras get SteadiCam-like handheld shots, or sleek tracking shots. Read More
— Good Thinking

Inexpensive sensor measures ripeness of fruit

By - April 30, 2012 1 Picture
As fruit matures, it releases a gas known as ethylene, that causes the ripening process to begin. Once that process is under way, more ethylene is released, kicking the ripening into high gear. Currently, produce warehouses use expensive technologies such as gas chromatography or mass spectroscopy to measure ethylene levels, in order to gauge the ripeness of fruits that are in storage. A scientist from MIT, however, is developing small, inexpensive ethylene sensors that could be used in places such as supermarkets. There, they could let shopkeepers know which batches of fruit need to sold the soonest, in order to minimize spoilage. Read More

SpaceX test-fires launch vehicle's engines for upcoming mission

Private space exploration company SpaceX is currently looking towards May 7th as the rescheduled date for its Dragon space capsule to lift off from Earth, on an unmanned Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demo mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Today, the company performed a static fire test of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle’s nine Merlin engines. The test took place at SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and was part of a full dress rehearsal for the actual launch. Read More
— Automotive

Vibrating steering wheel gives directions and keeps drivers' eyes on the road

By - April 30, 2012 1 Picture
Many drivers would be lost – quite literally – without their in-car navigation systems. When installed in vehicles that some people would say are already overcrowded with instrumentation, however, could such systems be just one visual distraction too many? Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and AT&T Labs are addressing that concern, by experimenting with a system that conveys navigational cues through vibrations in the steering wheel. Read More
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