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Karen Sprey

Australia’s ‘Black Saturday’ in February claimed 173 lives and countless homes and livelihoods. The country’s worst wildfire tragedy, this horrific disaster was an extreme example of an annual threat faced not only in Australia but also North America and South Africa where similar dry conditions are experienced. As the survivors struggle to come to terms with their losses and begin to rebuild their lives, questions are being asked about what could have been done, and what must be done now to better protect populations. Tougher building standards for homes in fire-prone areas will be introduced, but another option under scrutiny is fire resistant shelters - are they safe, should governments play a role in their development and how should they be designed and built? Entering this debate is the Bushbunker, a dedicated fire shelter design which aims to maximize the likelihood of survival regardless of the intensity or type of fire. Read More
Tibetan prayer wheels have been used for centuries to create harmony, enhance compassion and generate positive karmic energy. Now the kinetic energy created by the millions of tourists and Tibetans who spin the wheels each year could be harnessed to provide additional electricity for street lighting and homes. Read More
As you read this, 66-year-old Briton Eddie Sedgemore is powering his way all over the UK mainland, a 1,655-mile journey on a Powabyke X-byke electric bicycle to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. The Powabyke is a regular looking bike that has a 250 watt motor which slots into the water bottle holder and weighs only 2.5kg, allowing riders to coast along at a steady 15mph (add another 10mph in pedal assist mode). Read More
Clean, renewable energy is freely available – in the form of wind, sun and water. However, harnessing it reliably and cost-effectively remains a barrier. Wind power is one of the fastest growing alternative energy markets and researchers at Purdue University and Sandia National Laboratories in West Lafayette, Indiana, are working to make wind turbines more efficient, reliable and resilient. Read More
A new method of recycling old tires to produce high-quality rubber powders for making new rubber products is being developed in Australia. Its developers say it is energy-efficient, economically viable and environmentally responsible, and they hope it will result in 50 per cent more tires being recycled. Read More
Any parent who has spent time trying to prise their kids from the xBox or PlayStation to do homework or household chores is likely to welcome the GameDr Video Game Timer. Its tamper-proof controls allow you to set and enforce time limits to game playing, simply by plugging the games unit into the timer. Read More
Computerized lip-reading technology for deaf people - and surveillance cameras - has taken a step forward with scientists from the University of East Anglia successfully teaching computers to recognize different languages from the shapes and movements of people’s mouths. Read More
As the name suggests, automatic or self-winding watches wind themselves using a moving weight mechanism inside the watch. All well and good if you are wearing your watch everyday, but if you happen to have a collection, you'll often find yourself faced with the fiddly task of manual winding and resetting features like perpetual calendars - a difficult job for large unwieldy fingers (men) and delicate fingernails (women) - which is where watchwinders come in. This one, the Sparta Mini from Orbita, is for the ladies. Read More
‘Whatever you want – wherever and whenever you want it' is pretty much today’s philosophy, especially when it comes to music, movies and photos. We’re used to getting our content at the click of a mouse, button or scroll-wheel and it's this kind of flexibility and simplicity of access that Cisco's Linksys Media Hub aims to bring to personal media collections, delivering up to a terabyte of storage capacity backed by an intuitive interface and remote access functionality. Read More
The CellScope is a revolutionary attachment that turns a standard camera-enabled cell phone into a clinical quality microscope, with magnification up to 50X. Health workers in developing countries, where expensive equipment, facilities and on-the-ground physicians are scarce, will be able to use the mobile microscope to quickly and easily capture images of blood cells, lesions and infections and transmit them via the cell phone network to remote experts for analysis and diagnosis. Read More
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