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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.

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— Telecommunications

LED lightbulbs create wireless networks wherever they are installed

Various researchers have created ways to transmit wireless information from LED light fittings, to act as a form of enhancement to Wi-Fi based networks known as "Li-Fi." But now engineers at the University of Virginia (U.Va) have come up with a new twist on this theme – they claim to have created an algorithm that makes almost any device fitted with standard visible- light LEDs able to communicate with other equipment with similar LEDs. So, for example, the LED headlights in your car could communicate to the car in front of you through its LED taillights, or the LED display in your clock radio could tell the coffee maker to turn on via its indicator light. Read More
— Space

UK consortium proposes mission to provide five-day warning of solar storms

Solar storms – or Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) – are caused by the sudden release of built-up magnetic stress in the Sun's atmosphere. On Earth, we see the results of small versions of these when plasma streaming from the sun strikes our upper atmosphere and creates the Northern and Southern Lights (the Aurora Borealis and the Aurora Australis). Sometimes, however, these ruptures can be inordinately large and have the potential to wreak havoc on orbiting satellites, radio networks, and national power grids. In an effort to be prepared well in advance of such events, a UK consortium has proposed a satellite system that can provide as much as five days warning of potentially damaging CMEs. Read More
— Automotive

One and only Maserati Boomerang concept headed for auction

With low profiles, origami-like angles, and razor-sharp contours, the wedge-shaped supercars of the 1970s were the epitome of outrageous automotive style. Whilst the likes of the Lamborghini Countach, the Lotus Esprit, and the BMW M1 were the on-road embodiment of this ethos, the Maserati Boomerang concept car that preceded them took this style to the limit. Now, more than 40 years after it made its first appearance, this one-off automotive icon will be offered for sale by auction.

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— Science

New dimensions of quantum information added through hyperentanglement

In quantum cryptography, encoding entangled photons with particular spin states is a technique that ensures data transmitted over fiber networks arrives at its destination without being intercepted or changed. However, as each entangled pair is usually only capable of being encoded with one state (generally the direction of its polarization), the amount of data carried is limited to just one quantum bit per photon. To address this limitation, researchers have now devised a way to "hyperentangle" photons that they say can increase the amount of data carried by a photon pair by as much as 32 times.

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— Automotive

Study suggests that HUD tech may actually reduce driving safety

Cruising at speed down the highway with a heads-up display (HUD) constantly feeding data into your line of sight can make anyone feel like a jet pilot on the road; totally in control of your vehicle and primed to avert any potential danger that comes your way. However, recent studies by the University of Toronto show that the HUD multi-tasking method of vehicle piloting may well not provide the extra margin of safety that we think it does. In fact, according to the researchers, it could be downright dangerous.

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— Science

Graphene takes on a new dimension

Graphene is the modern go-to material for scientists and engineers looking to create all manner of new electronic devices. From ultra-frugal light bulbs (both big and small), to super-efficient solar cells, flexible displays and much more, graphene is a multi-tasking marvel. However, in all of these instances, graphene in its original form of atom-thin, flat sheets has had to be used with peripheral supports and structures because it lacks a solid shape and form of its own. Now researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have come up with a way of creating 3D objects out of graphene that opens up the possibility of fashioning a whole new range of innovative electronic devices.

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— Good Thinking

Electrolux Design Lab 2015 semi-finalists announced

Every year since 2003, the Electrolux Design Lab competition has challenged budding stylists and inventors to produce home appliance concepts that may emerge in the not-too-distant future. Each year has a theme. Last year it was "Creating Healthy Homes" and this year the brief is to conceive devices that cater for "Healthy Happy Kids." With the competition now down to just 35 semi-finalists, we take a look at six of the standouts.

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— Science

Solar-powered hydrogen generation using two of the most abundant elements on Earth

One potential clean energy future requires an economical, efficient, and relatively simple way to generate copious amounts of hydrogen for use in fuel-cells and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Often achieved by using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, the ideal method would be to mine hydrogen from water using electricity generated directly from sunlight without the addition of any external power source. Hematite – the mineral form of iron – used in conjunction with silicon has shown some promise in this area, but low conversion efficiencies have slowed research. Now scientists have discovered a way to make great improvements, giving hope to using two of the most abundant elements on earth to efficiently produce hydrogen.

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— Automotive

Samsung creates "transparent" truck

When driving behind big semi-trailers, people regularly take risks overtaking them because they often have to first move out from behind the truck to see if the road ahead is clear before passing. This is particularly dangerous on single-lane highways because such a maneuver can mean driving into the path of oncoming traffic. Now Samsung Electronics has come up with a way to help reduce this problem by mounting cameras on the front of a truck and large screens on the rear to display to following drivers a clear view of the road ahead. Read More
— Science

Sensor to detect Earth’s magnetic field discovered in an animal for very first time

It has been a long-held belief in scientific circles that many creatures navigate across land, through water, and through the skies using the Earth’s magnetic field for guidance. Now scientists and engineers working at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) have finally discovered the organic mechanism responsible for this in an animal. Looking just like a microscopic TV antenna, the structure has been found in the brain of a tiny roundworm that uses it to work out which way to burrow through the soil. This breakthrough may help scientists discover how other species with internal compasses use the magnetic field of our planet to pilot their course.

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