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Inventors and Remarkable People

The inventor of stereo, Alan Blumlein. 
 Pic courtesy DJ History.

Historic recordings by the inventor of stereo, Alan Blumlein, have been digitally re-engineered to remove the crackles and hiss from the original 78 pressings so they can now be heard as they were meant to sound. The recordings, which include Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in 1934, were made by Alan Blumlein, an EMI research engineer, who lodged the patent for “binaural” sound in 1931 and have now been digitally re-engineered by sound engineer Roger Beardsley.  Read More

Kevin Mitnick

July 21, 2008 Kevin Mitnick, the infamous computer hacker who was sentenced to solitary confinement in 1999 after prosecutors spun stories of his ability to "start a nuclear war by whistling into a telephone," has signed a deal with Little, Brown and Company to publish his autobiography.  Read More

The Mundaneum – the analog internet

Historians typically trace the origins of the World Wide Web through a lineage of Anglo-American inventors like Vannevar Bush, Douglas Engelbart and Ted Nelson. Now Belgian Paul Otlet another pioneer of information management and universally accessible information is beginning to gain recognition for his Mundaneum. Great video here on the life of the man who used terms like web of knowledge, link, and knowledge network to describe his vision for a central repository of all human knowledge – 100 years ago.  Read More

Stephane Rousson's Zeppy - pedal-powered airship.

May 1, 2008 Those magnificent men in their flying machines... the first purely human-powered aircraft, the Gossamer Albatross, crossed the English Channel in 1979 with its pilot Bryan Allen pedaling the feather-light winged plane across in two hours to collect the UKP100,000 Kremer prize. This feat caught the imagination of French cyclist Stephane Rousson, who this European summer will attempt to cycle across the Channel pedaling a twin-tilting-rotor helium airship. It's the first pedal-powered airship of its kind, complete with very delicate aerodynamics that mean Rousson will need to chance upon one of the three windless days of the year if he hopes to stay up-diddly-up-up and not go crashing down-diddly-own-down.  Read More

Kalashnikov Burglar Alarm

April 14, 2008 The Kalashnikov has been the common man’s rifle for sixty years and has been responsible for more misery and wasted humanity than any other invention of history. Now an ingenious Afghan inventor, Hanif Molavizadeh, has built one into a burglar alarm - a highly effective, seat-of-the-pants mash-up that includes a cell and speaker phone, sensors, and armed response. Trigger the alarm by waving a hand outside the window of Molavizadeh's one-room home and the alarm sounds. It also calls Molavizadeh's cell phone so he can have a conversation with the would-be burglar via a speakerphone in the alarm, and if he doesn’t like the answers he gets, he can fire the Kalashnikov remotely. He’s working on an equally punitive anti-theft system for his car.  Read More

Martin Cooper and his wife and business partner Arlene Harris with their respective cell p...

April 4, 2008 With around half the world's population expected to be carrying a mobile phone by the end of this year, it's hard to believe that its just 35 years since the first ever public cell phone call was made. Yesterday marked the anniversary of the historical call made on the streets of New York by portable cell phone inventor Martin Cooper, then general manager of Motorola’s Communications Systems Division.  Read More

Barilliant - new system for an old industry

Alcohol is one of the world’s most traded commodities. Central to the liquor industry are the millions of liquor serveries which serves millions of litrer of alcohol each day, a glass at a time. The biggest problem of this massive service industry is shrinkage – around 10-15% of tap beer goes straight down the drain in most pubs. New bar management system Barilliant monitors and minimizes wastage by accounting for every milliliter of alcohol using sensors, wireless technologies, and RFID staff identification, right down to how effectively every barman pours a beer. The system can be expected to save 5 to 10 percent of total throughput – very big bikkies.  Read More

The world’s first whale anti-collision systems (WACS)
 Photo: Rolex (Copyright)

An unlucky passenger who died when a high-speed ferry rammed into a sperm whale in the Canary islands was the world’s first known victim of a new form of pollution – ocean noise. In places where marine traffic is heavy, vessels fast and whale numbers expanding, violent encounters are increasingly common. The cause of the accident, says marine biologist and Rolex Awards for Enterprise Laureate Michel André, most probably lay in damage to the whale’s sensitive hearing apparatus caused by the rising roar of man-made noise throughout the oceans. The whale was stone deaf – and simply didn’t hear the ferry coming in time to avoid it. Julian Cribb reports.  Read More

Photonics engineer Dave Irvine-Halliday
 (c) Rolex / Xavier Lecoultre

Tens of thousands of people living in disadvantaged areas around the world now have reliable household lighting thanks to Scots-Canadian photonics engineer Dave Irvine-Halliday. For ten years he has been supplying low-cost lighting in developing countries through his foundation, Light Up The World, an achievement that has earned him a Rolex Awards for Enterprise. It is a project with potential to make a huge difference to the world as a whole: each year the kerosene lamps that flare in the homes of the poor liberate 244 million tonnes of CO2. Dave’s solar lighting sets offer huge scope to reduce those emissions and save poor people money at the same time. Francesco Raeli reports.  Read More

Valtra RoboTrac autonomous tractor design

February 14, 2008 Designed to perform a range of pre-programmed agricultural tasks in vineyards, coffee farms, orchards and nurseries, this futuristic driver-less tractor concept aims to boost efficiency, minimize crop damage and remove humans for hazardous environments using GPS and Internet to track its location. The Valtra RoboTrac from 25 year old Estonian industrial designer Hannes Seeberg - whose portfolio also includes an intriguing Skylift self-propelled boarding aircraft boarding system - combines an 85 hp engine diesel engine and rear-wheel steering in either a two or four wheel drive configuration with the remotely programmable computerized navigation system to enable anything from tilling and plowing to planting and spraying.  Read More

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