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Colin Jeffrey

Colin Jeffrey
Colin discovered technology at an early age, pulling apart clocks, radios, and the family TV. Despite his father's remonstrations that he never put anything back together, Colin went on to become an electronics engineer. Later he decided to get a degree in anthropology, and used that to do all manner of interesting things masquerading as work. Even later he took up sculpting, moved to the coast, and never learned to surf.
Top Articles by Colin Jeffrey
Double- and triple-delta robots are light and flexible, but take up little volume (Photo: ...

The design of a standard robot arm is, more or less, a mechanized representation of an idealized human arm, replete with elbow and wrist joints. Such designs tend to be unwieldy in confined spaces, and unsuitable for many industrial production line processes. As a result, delta arms – a series of interconnected parallelograms which restrict movement to the X, Y or Z directions and do not rotate – have become popular for use in tight workspaces. But, when faced with a requirement for both flexibility and compactness, a design that incorporates the best of both types is required. That's where the double-delta robot comes in.  Read More

The minute particles seen in this microscope image actually make up 38 percent of the volu...

When a mineral is the most abundant on the planet, (making up an estimated 38 percent of the Earth's entire volume, in fact), you would think that someone would have given it a name by now. But things are never as simple as they seem. Despite being so prevalent, the substance in question has only ever existed in synthetic form until recently, and the first naturally-occurring example of it didn't even come from beneath the ground; it arrived from outer space.  Read More

Engineers have designed an experiment that uses Lego blocks to determine a fundamental ato...

Lego is a popular Christmas gift, and young and old alike can derive hours of pleasure building with those little plastic blocks. But, like a lot of playthings, the novelty wears off soon enough and you find yourself drifting back to watch Christmas TV re-runs. But what if you could use that Lego to construct real scientific equipment; would that maintain your enthusiasm? Well hang on to your plastic blocks, because engineers have designed an experiment that uses Lego and a few other bits and pieces that allows any keen tinkerer to build a device that not only determines Planck's Constant but may also help quantify the international standard unit of mass.  Read More

Researchers a Berkeley have claimed a world record energy level with their tabletop-size p...

Taking careful aim with a quadrillion watt laser, researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab claim to have managed to speed up subatomic particles to the highest energies ever recorded for a compact accelerator. By blasting plasma in their tabletop-size laser-plasma accelerator, the scientists assert that they have produced acceleration energy of around of 4.25 giga-electron volts. Acceleration of this magnitude over the short distances involved correlates to an energy rise 1,000 times greater than that of a traditional – and very much larger – particle accelerator.  Read More

The collected papers of Albert Einstein's early life are now able to be viewed online

The name "Einstein" is synonymous with genius. A cultural icon of the 20th century, the mere mention of his name prompts many to quote his famous mass-energy equivalence formula, E=mc2, whilst the photograph of him sticking out his tongue has become an instantly recognizable meme of the digital age. But what do we really know of the man behind the face and that equation; his home life, his dreams, his aspirations? To allow a glimpse into his private world, Princeton University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have now released the collected works from Einstein's early life in digital form online for anyone to read.  Read More

The University of NSW have produced a PV system that converts over 40 percent of sunlight ...

Solar researchers working at the University of New South Wales claim to have produced a system that converts over 40 percent of incoming sunlight into electricity, thereby taking the title of highest solar efficiency for a photovoltaic system ever reported.  Read More

Engineers at Penn State University have produced an ammonia-based battery that captures an...

As modern power generation methods are designed to squeeze the most power from the least amount of fuel, engineers are constantly looking at techniques to improve efficiency. One way to achieve this is to scavenge waste energy left over from the production process to capture and convert low-grade heat into usable energy. In pursuit of this goal, engineers at Pennsylvania State University have produced an ammonia-based battery that not only captures and converts waste heat economically and efficiently, but is claimed to do so at a greater capacity than other similar systems.  Read More

The CUP system is claimed to be the world's fastest 2D camera (Image: Lihong Wang, PhD)

Researchers at Washington University in St.Louis have built what they claim is the world's fastest 2D receive-only camera, which is able to capture images at a rate of up to 100 billion frames per second. Using a technique called Compressed Ultrafast Photography (CUP), the researchers have so far taken photographs of a number of properties of light propagation and behavior that are already pushing the dimensional limits of fundamental physics.  Read More

Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have created rewritable paper that can...

The paperless office – one of the promises of the new digital age – has not really eventuated. Instead, most organizations still print out large amounts of documents on paper that, according to the WWF, is being produced at around 400 million tons (362 million tonnes) a year and rising. So, wouldn’t it be great if we could just simply wipe off the print on paper and use it over and over again? Chemists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) thought that this might be a good idea too, and have now created rewritable paper that can be printed on and erased more than 20 times before it needs to be discarded.  Read More

Researchers have used projected ultrasound to create floating 3D shapes that can be seen a...

Haptic feedback has become a common feature of recent technology, but such systems usually rely on stimulation of parts of the user’s body via direct mechanical or acoustic vibration. A new technique being developed by researchers at the University of Bristol promises to change all of this by using projected ultrasound to directly create floating, 3D shapes that can be seen and felt in mid-air.  Read More

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