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— Medical

US$240 TB-detecting microscope on par with $40,000 devices

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.3 million people worldwide died from tuberculosis in 2008. It’s definitely a disease to be taken seriously, so when people in remote locations are being tested for it, it’s best if they don’t have to wait for their samples to be processed at a distant lab. That’s why medical device designer Andrew Miller, when he was still an undergraduate at Houston’s Rice University, developed the portable, battery-operated Global Focus fluorescence microscope. In a paper published this Wednesday, Miller and his co-authors described how the $US240 Global Focus is able to detect TB-positive sputum smears just as well as laboratory microscopes worth over $40,000. Read More
— Marine

Night Stalker surfboard features headlights for night surfing

Bill Stewart has been shaping and selling surfboards since the late 70’s and, like most surfers, it seems that Bill thinks there just aren’t enough daylight hours to enjoy his wave riding past time. To rectify this he’s created a one-of-a-kind board complete with headlights designed specifically for surfing at night. Dubbed the Night Stalker, Stewart’s creation is the first ever shortboard to pack LEDs embedded in the side fins and two 700 lumen headlights contained with the board’s transparent plexiglass nose to form a pair of surfboard headlights. Read More
— Around The Home

ANYWAY Spray allows spray bottles to work at any angle

Perhaps you haven’t given this problem a lot of thought, but it is a problem nonetheless... most spray bottles can’t be used upside down, or even at much of angle once they’re half-empty. Not only that, but there’s always that last little bit of liquid in the bottom that gets wasted. That's because most of them have rigid-tubed sprayers that just have a single hole at the bottom, so they only suck up liquid from the bottom middle of the bottle. Well, British inventor Michael Pritchard has come up with something he calls the ANYWAY Spray, a tube that allows you to hold your spray bottles any way you darn well please, and keep spraying until they’re as dry as Keith Richards’ bourbon glass. Read More
— Medical

Tetris-like video game used to solve medical puzzles

Since October, 2000 the Folding@home project has been used to understand protein folding. Scientists know the pieces that make up a protein but cannot predict how those parts fit together into a 3-D structure. So the Folding@home project harnesses the power of Internet-connected PC’s and consoles, such as the PS3, to form the most powerful distributed computing cluster in the world. But no computer in the world is big enough, and computers may not take the smartest approach. So a team from the University of Washington (UW) made a Tetris-like game that asks players to fold a protein rather than stack colored blocks and discovered that people can compete with supercomputers in this arena. Read More
— Science

Nickel and selenium could be used for cheaper, more efficient solar cells

In two just-released studies, scientists have announced new ways of making solar cells less expensive and more efficient. In one of the projects, researchers from the University of Toronto demonstrated that nickel can work just as well as gold for electrical contacts in colloidal quantum dot solar cells. In the other, a team from California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory added selenium to zinc oxide, dramatically increasing the oxide’s efficiency in absorbing solar light. Both developments could result in more practical, affordable solar technology. Read More
— Good Thinking

The YrWall digital graffiti video wall

Graffiti murals can be truly amazing pieces of artwork, but when it comes to indoor graffiti-making events... well, those spray paints aren’t exactly fume-free, nor are they particularly forgiving to people trying their hand at the art form for the first time. That’s where the YrWall Digital Graffiti Wall comes in. Designed by startup British tech company Lumacoustics, YrWall consists of a video wall that users "paint" on using a modified spray paint can - it “sprays” infrared light, and is tracked by a computer. Much like Microsoft Paint, users can select different colors and effects from a palette, fill in areas with a given color, insert pre-made graphics, and delete their mistakes. When they’re done, they can save their projects, share them online using an onscreen keyboard, or even get them printed on T-shirts. Read More
— Automotive

The Delahaye Saoutchik Roadster - is this the world's most beautiful car?

Held each year since 1950, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is now the centerpiece of a week-long collector car festival in Monterey each August, and in addition to becoming the world’s foremost classic car event, it is increasingly being preferred by prestige manufacturers as the launch platform for new and concept vehicles. This year the car regarded by some as the most beautiful collector car in the world is to go under the auctioneer’s hammer. The work of prodigiously talented automotive stylist and coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik, this 1949 Delahaye 175 S Roadster is expected to fetch around US$6 million. Read More
— Home Entertainment

The Mediano piano TV cabinet: not for music lovers

Got a piano sitting in your house gathering dust because no one will come around and join you in a good old-fashioned sing-along? Why not give it a new lease on life by converting it into something that’s sure to get some use, like a TV cabinet? That’s just what German company Craft Line has done with its Mediano, a white upright piano that has had all its musical innards removed to make way for an LCD TV that slides out of the top of the piano at a push of a button on a remote control. Read More
— Science

Rapid DNA testing technology to put a faster finger on crime

DNA testing has provided the biggest revolution in the identification of criminals since the adoption of fingerprinting in the early part of last century. Still, the technology has limitations. Most genetic tests take 24-72 hours but the time taken for DNA to go from crime scene to identification can span as long as 14 days. By the time that the results are back, the suspects often have been released. A newly developed test could make checking DNA from people arrested for crimes against DNA samples from crime scenes stored in forensics databases almost as easy as matching fingerprints. Read More
— Robotics

ROCR the swingin’ wall-climbing robot

Engineers have used a variety of techniques to create robots that can scale walls – “the Climber” uses a rolling seal, while the insect-like robots from SRI have caterpillar tracks with electro-adhesive properties. While such robots generally focus on speed, adhering to the wall and deciding how and when to move, the creators of a small robot named ROCR say it is the first wall-climbing robot to focus on climbing efficiently. And it does so by using the momentum of a tail that swings like a grandfather clock’s pendulum. Read More
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