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— Digital Cameras

Pentax claims world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera crown

Pentax has announced the first pocket-friendly interchangeable lens camera to sport its new bayonet lens mount. The company says that its Q mount is about a third less in diameter than the more familiar K-mount, thanks to a reduction in the distance from the lens mount surface to the image sensor and by tweaking the size of the lens image circle to be proportionate to the sensor. The Pentax Q also makes use of a compact camera-sized sensor and sacrifices the onboard optical viewfinder, mirror box, focusing plate and autofocus sensor to help keep proportions to a minimum - making it about the same size as my Umbra credit card case. Other features of note include a programmable dial on the front for quick access to frequently-used settings, the ability to shoot full high definition video and a built-in flash that can pop up to help reduce red-eye. Read More
— Automotive

Volkswagen presents semi-autonomous, hands-free driving system

Despite research by automakers such as Audi and events such as DARPA's Grand Challenge, we're still waiting for fully autonomous cars to chauffeur us about town. Volkswagen has presented a new system called Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP), which is a link between existing driver assist technologies and completely automated vehicles. While still being monitored by the driver, TAP allows semi-automatic driving on a highway at speeds of up to 130 km/h (80 mph). Read More
— Environment

New NASA map shows tropical forest carbon storage

A NASA-led research team has created a new map using ground and satellite data that accurately quantifies the amount and location of carbon stored in Earth's tropical trees and forests. Based on data from the early 2000s, the map focuses on 2.5 million hectares of tropical forest in seventy-five countries. Data shows that tropical forests contain 247 billion tons of carbon, and of this carbon stock, almost half is held in Latin American forests. Almost the same carbon stock is stored in sub-Saharan Africa in its entirety, compared with 61 billion tons of carbon stored in Brazilian forests alone. Read More
— Science

Kno releases Textbooks app for iPad

The company behind the now-abandoned Kno digital textbook has announced the beta release of a new digitized textbook reading application for the iPad. The free to download Textbooks for iPad app offers students access to a vast library of exact digital replicas of real-world textbooks with the added bonus of an enhanced, interactive reading experience, some useful organizational tools and social sharing features. Read More
— Science

Phase change materials could be used to develop ‘brain-like’ computers

Unlike human brains that make no real distinction between memory and computation, computers currently deal with processing and memory separately. This means data has to be constantly moved around, resulting in a speed and power “bottleneck.” Now, using phase change materials that can store and process information simultaneously, researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK have developed a new technique that could lead to the development of “brain-like” computers. Read More
— Aircraft

ESA review finds 'no impediments' for SKYLON spaceplane development

After nearly 30 years of service, the Space Shuttle fleet is due to enter retirement with the last ever mission scheduled for takeoff on July 8, 2011. In its lifetime, the world’s first Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) has provided information that will prove invaluable for the next generation of spacecraft that will succeed it. One such craft is the Skylon, an unpiloted, single-stage, reusable spaceplane currently under development by UK-based Reaction Engines Ltd. (REL). The Skylon got a shot in the arm last month with the release of a technical review of Skylon carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA) that concluded there are “no impediments” that would prevent the continued development of the Skylon and its SABRE engine. Read More
— Computers

New VAIO L Series All-in-One desktop PC with 3D display from Sony

Since I enviously eyed my very first Sony All-in-One computer in the early 1990s, the space-saving desktop form factor has found its way into most manufacturer's product ranges. With its latest VAIO L Series addition, Sony brings 3D visuals to the party, along with a touch-enabled bezel for shortcut activation and feature control. It's powered by a second generation Core i7 processor supported by DDR3 memory and is given a generous helping of fast hard disk storage. Read More
— Aircraft

Gulfstream G450 crosses the Atlantic on 50/50 biofuel-jetfuel blend

With the rising price of fuel and more stringent emissions regulations, there is a strong need for the aviation industry to begin taking steps to earn its green wings. It's not surprising therefore that biofuel was one of the hot topics at this week's Paris Air Show with both Boeing's 747-8 and Gulfstream's G450 business jet making the trip across the Atlantic on biofuel blends. The G450 flew in from Morristown, New Jersey, after a seven hour flight in which one of its Rolls-Royce engines was powered by a 50/50 blend of Honeywell Green Jet Fuel and petroleum-based jet fuel. Read More
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