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— Environment

New solar thermal tower power plant being built that requires only sun and air

Although electrical devices have evolved rapidly over the last few decades, the plants used to generate the electricity that power these devices are still dominated by the use of steam turbines that convert thermal energy, usually from the burning of fossil fuels, into mechanical energy. Even newer solar thermal power plants concentrate the sun’s rays to heat water into high-pressure steam to drive a turbine. But with water not always readily available in locations suited to harnessing solar energy, such as deserts, a new type of solar thermal field, tower and research facility is being built in Australia that requires only air and the sun, making it ideal for parts of the world that receive minimal rainfall. Read More
— Automotive

Kapow! The home-built Dark Knight Batmobile

RM Auctions recently declared James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 to be “the world’s most famous car,” but there's no doubt another contender for that title – the Batmobile. One thing that muddies the waters a bit is the fact that the term “Batmobile” actually describes at least three different vehicles: the modified Lincoln Futura concept car from the 60s TV series, the vaguely Corvette-shaped 1989-and-beyond movie cars and now the car from the most recent two movies, the military-spec Tumbler. Michigan-based movie props artist Bob Dullam really likes the Tumbler, so he did what any of us would do in his position – he built one of his own from scratch. Read More
— Automotive

BMW pilots online car rental scheme

In a move with major ramifications for the global automotive industry, BMW has begun a pilot scheme renting its vehicles on an hourly basis over the internet. Research shows the average car is parked more than 90% of the time, indicating a terrible waste of our personal resources to buy and maintain such an underutilized capital investment. So BMW’s decision to begin renting its entire model range of premium segment cars (e.g. M and 7 series at EUR32 - US$ 44.60 per hour including insurance, cleaning and servicing through to 1 Series cars at half that rate) could accelerate big changes in the way we access and pay for our personal mobility. The 12 month 'BMW on Demand' pilot project will begin from BMW Welt Munich, with a second phase seeing the scheme extended to other locations. Read More
— Music

The Rock Lock helps protect your guitar from thieving hands

For a good number of years now my trusty Kensington lock has helped give me peace of mind when out and about with the laptop. Now Chris Goulet has created a similar safety mechanism for a guitar – the Rock Lock. Any musician worried about a prized 1959 Fender Strat walking off at a gig or party can loop the heavy duty steel wire around any fixed structure or heavy equipment and lock the other end around the neck of the guitar and then go enjoy the after show party. Read More
— Robotics

Robotic gripper picks up objects using coffee grounds and a balloon (UPDATED: new video)

While creating robotic grippers to pick up objects that are all the same shape and consistency is relatively easy, difficulties arise when trying to create one versatile enough to handle a wider variety of objects. The flexibility of the human hand has led many robotics researchers to borrow the familiar four finger and opposable thumb template that has served us so well, but getting the robotic hand to exert enough force to grip a variety of objects without breaking the more fragile ones is still a difficult task. For this reason a team of researchers has bypassed the traditional human hand and fingers design to create a versatile gripper using everyday coffee grounds and a latex party balloon. Read More
— Mobile Technology

HP Slate 500 Tablet PC targets business users

Tablets have become one of the hot topics of the 2010 on the back of Apple's all conquering iPad, but HP's new entry into the space has come about with next to zero fanfare. The new Windows-based HP Slate 500 isn't positioned as a rival to the iPad (in contrast to Samsung's Android-driven Galaxy Tab), instead it's aimed at "professionals who don’t usually work at a traditional desk, yet need to stay productive in a secure, familiar Windows environment." Read More
— Science

Understanding rare molecule could enable “rechargeable heat battery”

In figuring out how a molecule called fulvalene diruthenium works to store and release heat, researchers at MIT may have paved the way for a rechargeable battery that stores heat instead of electricity. Although the molecule was discovered in 1996, ruthenium’s rarity and cost has ruled out it’s widespread use but the researchers say understanding the fundamental mechanism of how the molecule works should make it possible to find similar chemicals based on more abundant, less expensive materials. Read More
— Motorcycles

Uno motorcycle reconfigures itself on the fly

Bombardier's concept for a one-wheeled self-balancing motorcycle-like vehicle called the EMBRIO has been a long time Gizmag favorite. It was envisioned as the type of personal transportation that people might be using 20 years from now. Well, if 21 year-old inventor Ben Gulak has his way, consumers will be able to buy a similar vehicle a lot sooner. His battery electric Uno may look like a regular motorbike at higher speeds, but when it slows down, the wheels realign themselves into a side-by-side configuration – seen in profile, it looks like a unicycle. We caught up with Ben to get the latest news on the project. Read More