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Randolph Jonsson

Rice University's Team Break-and-Make, with their automated linear distractor

Whether it's from injury, infection or malfunctioning genes, millions of children suffer from bone deformities at any given time. To help remedy the situation, doctors often resort to the painful practice of breaking the target bone and then repeatedly moving the ends apart as they attempt to grow together – a procedure known as distraction osteogenesis (DO), that has its share of risks and problems. Now, a team of undergrad students from Rice University (RU) in Texas has come up with a device they hope will make the lengthy process of bone-stretching both easier and safer for the young patients who have to endure it.  Read More

Depiction of a cargo ship equipped with the Wind Challenger Project system of sails

Of the world's nearly 45,000 cargo ships, many burn a low-grade bunker fuel in their engines and produce pollution equivalent to millions of automobiles. To help reduce that toxic load and keep the price of shipping freight reasonable, engineers at the University of Tokyo (UT) and a group of collaborators have designed a system of large, retractable sails measuring 64 feet (20 m) wide by 164 feet (50 m) high, which studies indicate can reduce annual fuel use on ships equipped with them by up to 30%.  Read More

The Aeolus Acoustic Wind Pavilion

Aeolus, a fascinating acoustic wind sculpture made by prolific Bristol artist Luke Jerram, is as much a feast for the ears as it is for the eyes. Named after the mythical Greek ruler of the four winds and built in conjunction with the University of Southampton's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research and the University of Salford's Acoustics Research Center, the giant aeolian wind harp is intended to inspire the public to learn more about the amazing things that can happen when engineering, acoustics and aerodynamics are blended together.  Read More

Eolewater's WMS1000 wind-driven water-harvesting system uses on-board cooling units to chi...

We've all seen ice cold glasses and bottles dripping with condensation after cooling water vapor in the air, and though grabbing water out of thin air is not new, it took French inventor and Eolewater founder Marc Parent's umpteenth emptying of his air conditioner's condensate to envision harvesting atmospheric moisture on a commercial scale using wind turbines. After years of designs and prototypes, his proof-of-concept device, essentially a wind-powered refrigeration/condensation/filtration unit, was put in operation in the dry desert air of Abu Dhabi last October where it's been reliably extracting 130-200 gal (approx. 500-800L) of clean, fresh water a day ever since.  Read More

The Friend House ecohotel was built entirely of wood, clay, stone and reeds

Nature (and its preservation) evidently played a major role in the unusual design of the Friend House, an innovative ecohotel situated on the banks of the Ukraine's Orel River, a tributary of the Dnieper. Actually in development for a number of years, the single story structure sits on 7.4 acres (3 hectares) of forested land about 19 miles (30 km) from the large city of Dnipropetrovs'k. Constructed exclusively of what its designers call "ecologically harmless" materials - clay, reed, wood and stone - this eye-catching edifice is also a contender for the World Architecture News (WAN) Awards 2012 Hotel of the Year.  Read More

The clip-on Amplifiear boosts iPad audio and sound quality While most folks find the speakers on their iPads adequate, they can be difficult to hear clearly in noisy environments or when they're several feet away. Recently, we covered an accessory that amplifies the iPhone4 by about 13 decibels. Now, to help the third-generation iPad (and the earlier iPad2) be all that it can be, Evan Clabots and his team at Brooklyn's Nonlinear Studio have come up with a similar clip-on solution that simply and effectively boosts output - the Amplifiear.  Read More

Feadship's new Hampshire II luxury motoryacht prepares to launch

When Feadship Royal Dutch shipyards rolls, or rather, floats out one of their multi-million dollar superyachts, it does so with a lot of fanfare. Just last month, we covered the unveiling of their innovative Qi (Chi) concept vessel and now the megayacht builder has introduced its latest real-world effort, the 257-foot (78.50m) luxury motoryacht Hampshire II, which left the drydock at the company's Kaag, Netherlands, facility a few days ago.  Read More

The TitanicBelfast museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland

On April 14, 1912, the luxury liner RMS Titanic, just four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, struck an iceberg and sank with the loss of 1,514 lives. At the time, the massive, state-of-the-art ship was the largest vessel afloat and considered by many to be "virtually unsinkable." Built in Belfast, Northern Ireland by shipbuilding firm Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line at the then-astronomical cost of US$7.5 million (US$171 million in 2012 dollars), the ill-fated Titanic has been a source of pathos and fascination for nearly a century. To bring the remarkable ship's story to countless more future generations (and presumably give the local economy a shot in the arm) the government of Northern Ireland, the Belfast City Council and numerous private groups have pooled resources and created Titanic Belfast, a futuristic, US$160 million, nine-gallery museum - the world's largest exclusively dedicated to the ship and its only voyage. The facility finally opened late last month – just in time for the centennial of the tragedy coming up in a few days.  Read More

Radioactive material in water and beverages may soon be removed with a disposable scrubber...

With airborne radioactivity from Fukushima's still-critical damaged reactors circling the globe and more likely on the way from the mass incineration of earthquake debris, individuals are certainly justified in wanting to shield themselves from the fallout, especially when it shows up in their food and drink. Now, to address concerns about nuclear contamination in juice, milk and even water, a team of researchers led by Allen Apblett from Oklahoma State University (OSU) has announced development of a capsule that, when dropped in liquid, can easily and effectively remove numerous radioactive substances and thus prevent the consumer from ingesting them.  Read More

Ubi-Camera in telephoto mode (Photo: DigInfo)

Framing a shot with one's hands is almost as big a part of photography as having your subject say "cheese," but a camera and its viewfinder have always been a part of the equation, too ... until now, that is. A team at Japan's Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences (IAMAS) in Ogaki are working on an innovative prototype fingertip "Ubi-Camera" (Ubi is Latin for where) that lets the user's fingers set the frame – a development that could literally make composing shots, well, a snap. At the very least, it'll give new meaning to the term "digital" photography when (and if) it hits market.  Read More

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