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Science

Ant-repelling cobweb chemical could lead to new pesticides

Ants. What a pest. Once you get them in your house it can be a real mission to get rid of them. But it seems the Golden orb web spider has developed a way to keep its home clear of the little buggers. The secret uncovered by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Melbourne relates to a chemical compound the spider adds to its web that appears to repel ants. So not only are spider webs providing inspiration for better adhesives and stronger materials, they may also provide the basis for new, environmentally friendly, ant-repelling pesticides.Read More

Automotive

"Urban Future" concept blurs lines between roads, sidewalks and city squares

Amongst the modern furniture and “design-art” on display at this year’s Design Miami/ international design show visitors were also treated to the Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG) vision for the future of urban mobility. Dubbed “Urban Future,” the international architectural firm’s installation, created with the cooperation of Audi, provided a glimpse of how its concept for the city street of the future that networks with vehicles and pedestrians might actually work. Read More

Games

Skyrim devs releasing Creation Engine with new features for the modding community

With Bethesda's latest game - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - still garnering a lot of buzz and racking up "Game of the Year" nominations less than a month after release, one might expect the video game developer to happily rest on its laurels for a moment. Luckily for the modding community, Bethesda is instead releasing its brand new Creation Engine for free to have the public do with as they wish. While it's not uncommon for a video game developer to give out its development tools, it is a little less common for those tools to be packed with a platform for distributing, rating, and even installing mods with a smartphone.Read More

Music Feature

Ministar travel guitars - it's all in the neck

Guitarists who travel a lot and want to take an instrument along for the ride - but don't want to risk damaging that prized vintage Strat - might find themselves turning in the direction of a scaled down stand-in. Such solutions come in many different shapes and sizes - from full size instruments with parts that collapse (like Daniel Mapp's Jetson travel guitar concept) to models with a shortened neck and small bodies (such as Martin's Backpacker) to strange-looking beasts with tuners positioned in a hollowed out section of the body (like the Traveler's Speedster). Bob Wiley's Ministar guitars, though, are essentially a bunch of necks with pickups. While there is a model with a shortened 19-inch scale neck, most of the odd-looking electric, acoustic and bass guitars sport full length necks and, says Wiley, play and sound just like the big brand models, but at a fraction of the price - and a fraction of the size.Read More

Environment

New wave of ocean energy to be trialed off the coast of Australia

Anyone who has ever been scuba diving in a bull kelp forest will tell you - the stuff does not stand still. The marine aquatic plant consists of a long skinny-but-tough stem (or stipe) that is anchored to the sea floor and topped with a hollow float, from which a number of "leaves" (or blades) extend to the surface. The result is a seaweed that extends vertically up through the water column, continuously swaying back and forth with the surging waves. The researchers at Australia's BioPower Systems evidently looked at that kelp, and thought, "what if we could use that swaying action to generate power?" The result was their envisioned bioWAVE system, which could soon become a reality, thanks to a just-announced AUD$5 million (US$5.1 million) grant from the Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources.Read More

Mobile Technology

Memo Touch - a tablet tailored for seniors

While most of the newest tech products are marketed at youngsters or people of working age, there's an increasing number of gadgets aimed at senior users as well. A case in point is the recently introduced Memo Touch tablet, which is based on a 10-inch Archos 101 tablet and comes with custom software that provides memory-challenged aging users with virtual assistance to help them deal with everyday activities and it allows caregivers to update content remotely.Read More

Spy Gear

DARPA's Shredder Challenge is solved ahead of schedule

At the end of October, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) launched its Shredder Challenge contest. The objective: create a system for reconstructing shredded papers, then demonstrate it by piecing together five documents, the shredded remains of which were posted on the contest’s website. Although the contest had a December 4th deadline, the “All Your Shreds Are Belong to U.S.” team correctly reassembled all five documents with two days to spare.Read More

Digital Cameras

SteadePod provides a pocketable alternative to the monopod

When most of us want to steady a camera for a long exposure or telephoto shot, we look for something that will accept the camera’s weight, such as a tripod or a handy flat horizontal surface. The pocket-sized SteadePod, however, uses what could almost be considered the opposite approach – it requires the user to pull up on the camera, the upward tension serving to stabilize their shot.Read More

Mobile Technology

Sharp unveils the industry's thinnest camera sensor, paves the way for thinner smartphones

Mobile phones may have the opportunity to get even thinner. Sharp has recently taken the wraps off its new 12-megapixel smartphone camera sensor, which it claims is the thinnest camera sensor on the market. Measuring in at a mere 5.6 millimeters thick, the sensor has built-in image stabilization and is capable of capturing 1080p high-definition video. The optical image stabilization in the lens makes it ideal for situations where pictures are often blurry due to camera shake, such as low-light situations.Read More

Automotive

The world's most expensive auto accident - NOT!

In yet another example of internet mass media hysteria (reporters not checking facts and racing to get the story out quickly in the unholy pursuit of the holy dollar), a pile-up of 14 cars in Japan on Sunday morning has been universally labelled as the the world's most expensive automobile accident. Among the wreckage were eight Ferraris (including two F430s, two F355s, two 360 Modenas and an F512), a Lamborghini Diablo, a Nissan GT-R and a Mercedes CL600, and while there will certainly be a few very expensive repair bills, the crash doesn't even come close to being the world's most costly. Read More

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