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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.
With the space shuttle program now officially over, the United States needs a new reusable vehicle for getting supplies to and from the International Space Station. NASA is considering the Dragon spacecraft, designed by California-based SpaceX Exploration Technologies, to take over that role. The Dragon’s scheduled late March/early April test flight to the ISS will be unmanned, utilizing a cargo configuration of the spacecraft. Last Friday, however, SpaceX released photographs of an engineering model of of its planned seven-passenger crew cabin, complete with a crew that included real live astronauts. Read More
Although it’s been suggested that point-and-shoot digital cameras could be made obsolete by smartphones, there’s at least one thing that’s still better about stand-alone cameras – they have an ergonomic grip (or at least, some of them do), and a good ol’ fuss-free shutter release button. Belkin’s LiveAction Camera Grip device, however, is designed to add these features to the iPhone. The company has also released the LiveAction Camera Remote, which brings the same push-button functionality to a remote-control device. Read More
Because everyone’s immune system is different, it’s impossible to predict with absolute certainty how any given person will react to a specific medication. In the not-too-distant future, however, at-risk patients may get their own custom-altered mouse, with an immune system that’s a copy of their own. Medications could be tried out on the mouse first, and if it showed no adverse reactions, then the person could receive them. If the person had an autoimmune disease, the mouse could also provide valuable insight into its treatment. A team led by Columbia University Medical Center’s Dr. Megan Sykes has recently developed a method of creating just such a “personalized immune mouse.” Read More

When anthrax spores go dormant, they develop a tough outer coating that can withstand heat, radiation and antibiotics, in one case even allowing them to come back to life after 250 million years. It seems that such spores could be no match, however, for a special pair of silk curtains. Read More

Children are sometimes referred to as “sponges,” not because they live off our earnings, but because of their remarkable ability to learn things quickly. Psychologists believe this is because their brains are still wired for learning and exploration – essential qualities for building neural connections – whereas adult minds tend to focus on specific goals, at the expense of imagination and curiosity. Now, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley are studying the cognitive functions of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, in hopes of using their findings to make computers think more like humans. Read More
We’ve probably all seen scuba divers on television, hitching rides on the backs of manta rays or sea turtles. For those of us who love the ocean, it looks like a near-magical experience, but ... you shouldn’t do it. Marine biologists will tell you that it’s simply a form of harassment, which the animals themselves don’t particularly enjoy. So, how can you replicate that “flying underwater” experience? Well, Norwegian inventor Simon Sivertsen would suggest you buy his boat-towed Subwing. Read More
Boosting solar cell efficiency is seen as a key factor in making them more practical, but there is another way of looking at the matter ... if the price of those cells were lowered, we could generate more power simply by using more of them. That’s where Mississippi-based Twin Creeks Technologies comes into the picture. The company has developed a method of making crystalline silicon wafers which it says could reduce the cost of solar cell production by half. Read More
Despite what TV shows like CSI would have us believe, a lot of lab work tends to be highly monotonous. It’s the type of work that could be assigned to robots, were it not for the fact that many facilities can’t afford the things, or can’t rationalize bringing one in for a single project. When scientists at Cambridge University were recently faced with a very mindless, repetitive task that was part of their research into creating artificial bone, one of them got creative, and built a couple of robots out of LEGO. Read More

On November 17th of last year, a group of four wave-powered autonomous aquatic robots set out from San Francisco, embarking on a planned 37,000-mile (60,000-km) trip across the Pacific ocean. Recently, the fleet of Wave Gliders completed the first leg of their journey, arriving at Hawaii’s Big Island after traveling over 3,200 nautical miles (5,926 km). By doing so, they have set a new distance record for unmanned wave-powered vehicles – that record previously sat at 2,500 nautical miles (4,630 km). Read More

We’ve all seen footage of flight crews on the decks of aircraft carriers, directing taxiing planes using arm signals. That’s all very well and good when they’re communicating with human pilots, but what happens as more and more human-piloted military aircraft are replaced with autonomous drones? Well, if researchers at MIT are successful in one of their latest projects, not much should change. They’re currently devising a system that would allow robotic aircraft to understand human arm gestures. Read More
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