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Michael Mulcahy

The three-wheeler STEM bike would be readily available from public solar-charging stations

Young German industrial designer, Tobias Bexten, has come up with a nifty little idea for city transport. The STEM is a compact electric three-wheeler, powered by a lithium-ion battery, that would be available for pick-up and return at a city-wide infrastructure of rental stations. But, if a popular Parisian bike rental scheme is anything to go by, Tobias could expect to see half his bikes stolen, and the rest vandalized, hung from lamp posts and tossed in rivers.  Read More

The VASIMR engine could make a manned flight to Mars in about a sixth of the time of conve...

Last week, as the world celebrated the first lunar landing, Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins both called for NASA to make Mars its next goal. But the chemical propulsion system that took them to the moon would take six months, at least, to get a man to Mars and cost hundreds of billions of dollars. However, a new ion plasma rocket being developed by another former astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz, could potentially reach Mars in just 39 days using a fraction of the fuel.  Read More

Powerbocking - Great poses are achieved by scissoring legs apart while mid-air. You don't ...

They’re enough to fulfill anyone’s dreams of bionic powers: jump six feet in the air (and over cars, if you’re in the mood), run at 25 miles an hour or more, and stride nine feet at a time. But, instead of costing Six Million Dollars, you can invest in a pair of “powerbocks” for just a couple of hundred. A cross between stilts and a pogo stick that harnesses energy in the same way as a trampoline, a set of Powerbocks will not only make you part of a sport that can help you lose weight, build strength and reduce cholesterol, but you’ll also be drawn into a craze that’s swept the world from Korea to Canada.  Read More

Careful, you never know when an ATM might attack

Who’d want to work for a bank in South Africa? If violent attacks on ATMs weren’t enough – more than 500 were bombed last year – then the ATMs themselves start turning on you. In a desperate attempt to stem the growing tide of crime, Absa Bank fitted pepper spray to 11 cash machines in Western Cape, a popular tourist area. But, so far, the spray has only prevented three maintenance workers from doing their jobs.  Read More

What you see and what shoulder-surfers see using the Oculis Chameleon system

We need a name to describe that sensation you often get, in an office or out in public, that someone’s looking at your computer screen from behind you. Screen-dropping? Shoulder-surfing? Whatever it’s called, it’s annoying – and a potential security threat. Baltimore company Oculis, has developed a program that tracks an authorized reader's eyes to show only them the correct text. Anyone else looking at the screen will see only gobbledygook  Read More

The 1906 San Fransisco earthquake killed over 3,000. A new technology could help shield bu...

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 500,000 detectable earthquakes every year, of which 100,000 will be felt and about 100 will cause damage. Engineers now use seismic vibration control technology - and base isolation in particular – to make buildings more earthquake-proof. But what about existing structures? Researchers from the University of Liverpool have now developed a means of effectively making buildings “invisible” to the destructive path of a quake.  Read More

The K-box turns any flat surface into a giant speaker

As personal music players like the iPod become ubiquitous, there’s another developing trend that’s even more insidious: the desire to share that music with everyone else. Miini speakers are flooding the market at the moment, but a new product called the Kerchoonz K-box promises to make even more noise. A compact, mobile-phone sized device, the K-box turns any flat surface – wall, table, window, ceiling – into a giant speaker.  Read More

GE's new outdoor LED lighting system casts a more even light across large spaces, reducing...

If you’ve ever crossed a parking lot at night and found yourself nervously hurrying from one reassuring pool of light to the next, you’ll be pleased to learn GE believes it has come up with a way to banish lurking shadows from large outdoor areas. The GE Evolve LED area light produces less glare and a more uniform level of light, reducing hot spots and dark spots. And, as an added bonus, it’s 30% more energy-efficient than traditional outdoor lighting.  Read More

Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle and Apollo 15 lunar module, Falcon (Photo: NASA)

Exactly forty years ago today, with fuel running short and alarms buzzing, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set their lunar module Eagle down on the face of the moon, and mankind took its very first step on another celestial body. Last week, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) returned its first imagery of the Apollo moon landing sites. Even after all these years, there’s something truly heroic about seeing those lunar module descent stages sitting silently on the surface, testament to man’s imagination and determination.  Read More

Odyssey Moon has announced plans to become the first private company to supply payload del...

As we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo moon landing this week, it’s worth asking what happened to those old dreams of lunar colonies and missions to Mars. NASA is reportedly struggling thanks to a general lack of interest and, it claims, funding. But, even with USD$187 billion, their Project Constellation is unlikely to reach the moon before 2020. The best hope right now seems to be driven by the private sector: Google’s USD$30 million Lunar X PRIZE and one of its most promising contenders, Odyssey Moon, which has announced plans to become the first private company to supply payload delivery services to the Moon.  Read More

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