Inventors & Remarkable People

Company claims to have developed new technology that provides unlimited free energy

Steorn, an Irish company, claims to have produced a groundbreaking (we do not use this word lightly) technology which is based on the interaction of magnetic fields and produces free, clean and constant energy. If the claims are true, the new technology will enable a significant range of benefits, from the convenience of never having to refuel your car or recharge your mobile phone, to a genuine solution to the need for zero emission energy production. It will also provide a secure supply of energy, since the components of the technology are readily available. Steorn’s technology appears to violate the ‘Principle of the Conservation of Energy’, (energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change form) considered by many to be the most fundamental principle in our current understanding of the universe. Fully aware that its claims will be considered bunkum by anyone who has graduated kindergarten, Steorn today issued a challenge to the global scientific community to test its free energy technology. Steorn has placed an advertisement in The Economist to attract the attention of the world’s leading scientists working in the field of experimental physics. From all the scientists who accept the challenge, twelve will be invited to take part in a rigorous testing exercise to prove that Steorn’s technology creates free energy. The results will be published worldwide. That's Steorn's Richard Walshe with the George Bernard Shaw quote on the placard - all great truths begin as blasphemies.Read More

Optical breakthrough makes “Lab-on-a-Chip” possible

August 8, 2006 Georgia Tech researchers have found a way to shrink all the sensing power of sophisticated biosensors — such as sensors that can detect trace amounts of a chemical in a water supply or a substance in your blood — onto a single microchip. In compact communication, signal processing and sensing optics technologies, multiple wavelengths of light are combined as a space-saving measure as they carry information. The wavelengths must then be separated again when they reach their destinations. Wavelengths used for these sophisticated applications have very high spectral resolution, meaning the distance between wavelengths is very small. The device that sorts out these crowded wavelengths is called a wavelength-demultiplexer (WD).Read More

Hulme SuperCar - the name behind the badge

July 26, 2006 The Hulme Supercar proudly takes the name of the former World F1 Champion, international racing driver and one of New Zealand’s favourite sons, Denny Hulme. In doing so it also takes the name of Hulme’s equally famous father, Clive Hulme. Denny Hulme won eight F1 Grands Prix, two Can-Am titles, and the World Formula One Drivers Championship in 1967. His father Clive achieved war hero status during World War II for his exploits as a sniper-killer operating just behind enemy lines and his Rambo-esque, one-man forays behind enemy lines saw him kill 33 snipers before he was seriously wounded - he remains a living legend to the folks at home. For his “outstanding and inspiring qualities of leadership, initiative, skill, endurance and most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty,” Clive was awarded the highest medal of military valour, the Victoria Cross. The parallels between father and son make interesting reading.Read More

Aldrin Gemini XII / Apollo XI flight suit under the hammer

July 6, 2006 If you’re at all interested in science fiction memorabilia, the upcoming Hollywood Memorabilia auction on eBay might well be worth a look. First up, the star of the show is indeed not scifi but a genuine Buzz Aldrin Gemini XII / Apollo XI flight suit with original rank insignia and mission patches, which was worn during training for both missions by the second person to walk on the moon. It’s the only flight suit of Aldrin’s in private hands and is expected to fetch between US$120,000 and US$150,000. The movie memorabilia which will also go during the auction is quite breathtaking in its breadth and depth, and includes a complete T.I.E fighter pilot outfit from Star Wars, Liam Neeson’s Light Saber from Star Wars - The Phantom Menace, the Proton Pack used by Bill Murray in GhostBusters II, an array of guns, bugs and clothing from StarShip Troopers, and dozens of futuristic gadgets and outfits used in Star Trek. Plus Arnie’s leather jacket from Terminator III and a futurist police helmet from The Fifth Element and … follow the links. Read More

The Talking Camera - new handheld electronic reader will change the lives of millions

June 27, 2006 There are 174 million visually impaired people in the world, and we can hardly imagine how overjoyed these people will be to hear of a groundbreaking new device that has been announced by the United States National Federation of the Blind (NFB) - the Kurzweil-NFB Reader. The handheld machine was developed by NFB and renowned inventor Ray Kurzweil, and enables users to take pictures of and read most printed materials. Users hold the device over any print document (such as a letter, bill, restaurant menu, airline ticket, business card, or office memo) and in seconds they hear the contents of the printed document read to them in a clear synthetic voice. Readers go on sale July 1 for US$3,495. Download a brochure here. The invention will once again focus public attention on the inventive mind of Ray Kurzweil which has made significant contributions to human knowledge in the areas of optical character recognition, music synthesis, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence – read about his remarkable career inside.Read More

Shuji Nakamura wins the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize

June 18, 2006 The world’s most lucrative technology award, the Millennium Technology Prize, has been awarded to Professor Shuji Nakamura. Nakamura was awarded the 2006 Millennium Technology Prize, including a cash component of one million euros, for his work in developing new sources of light – bright-blue, green and white LEDs and blue lasers. Professor Nakamura’s work has launched a totally-new sector in light-producing semiconductor research, made possible the widescale industrial production of efficient, energy-saving LED lights and created the conditions for applications that improve the quality of human life. His blue lasers have enabled the next generation of optical storage (BluRay and HD-DVD), his LED work has enabled highly efficient lighting systems suitable for significantly reducing consumption of the world’s resources, and his work with ultraviolet LEDs could enable far cheaper and more efficient water purification processes to provide the third world with its most needed commodity (sadly, safe water). Nakamura’s win is also significant in that a significant body of his work related to a high profile patent dispute that challenged the Japanese tradition of selfless devotion to employers.Read More

The Pedal Radio

June 10, 2006 The population density of the world’s continents says it all: North America (32 people/sq mile), South America (73), Europe (134), Asia (203), Africa (65) and Australia with just 6.4 people per square mile. Given that 90% of Australia’s population live in large cities in the South Eastern corner, the immense interior known as “the Outback” is one of Australia’s defining features. Eighty years ago, with almost no telecommunication infrastructure beyond the seaboard, the tyranny of distance loomed much larger in the Outback as the nearest doctor could be several thousand miles away, with no method of contacting them in an emergency. Hearing that German WW1 soldiers had used hand-cranked radios for battlefield communications, Alf Traeger set about creating a radio powered by bicycle pedals. The invention of the pedal radio in the late 1920s enabled the famous Flying Doctor service, and offered remote settlements access to telecommunications for th first time, Read More

Vale: The Mother of Television

May 2, 2006 As extraordinary as it may seem, one of the people who created the first television died last week when Elma G. "Pem" Farnsworth, author of the Distant Vision: Romance and Discovery on the Invisible Frontier and wife of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of electronic television, died in Bountiful, Utah at the age of 98. Pem married Philo Taylor Farnsworth in 1926. She was on her husband's lab team, handling technical drawings for his experiments with transmitting pictures through the air and was present on September 7, 1927, in San Francisco when his invention of electronic television was first demonstrated successfully. Pem was the first person ever to appear on television and is often referred to as "The Mother of Television", given that her husband is recognised as one of the last lone inventors. Her technical drawings of those early experiments are part of the permanent collection in the Smithsonian Institute. A devout Mormon, she derived her greatest satisfaction in encouraging young people, saying "if you believe you can do it, anything is possible."Read More

3D Broadcast and Film Technology to feature in Live Patent Auction

March 31, 2006 A fortnight ago we wrote about the plans for Chicago-based merchant bank Ocean Tomo to conduct the world's first, live multi-lot technology patent auction in San Francisco on April 6, 2006 but we didn’t realise that CircleScan would be among the lots on the day. Originally developed by inventor Eddie Paul of EP Industries in El Segundo, CA, the patented CircleScan makes 3D television entertainment a technical and economic reality. Unlike traditional 3D technologies requiring specialized cameras to record stereoscopic images, CircleScan easily attaches to any existing equipment. But what really sets CircleScan apart from all other 3D systems is that it can be delivered with virtually zero-cost of deployment across the entire media landscape: theaters, broadcast, DVDs, Internet and even iPods and cell phones. The picture? That's Circlescan being used to shoot a Victoria's Secret catalogue.Read More

The LongPen – landmark distance tool

March 30, 2006 The unveiling of the LongPen at the London Book Fair earlier this month is one of the most important technology stories of 2006. The fact it was conceived and funded in its development by Booker Prize-winning novelist Margaret Atwood seems to have helped to disguise the story from the tabloids. Similarly, the absolute focus of Unotchit on the LongPen as a tool to enable authors to escape the drudgery of book signing tours has been equally myopic – Atwood could not have picked a harder industry in which to pioneer a machine that challenges traditional ways. The LongPen machine threatens the lucrative tradition of book signing tours because it enables the author to sign a book remotely while they chat via videophone with the recipient – all facilitated by the Internet. Viewed with some perspective though, LongPen is the world’s first real-time, remote signing device and will likely find many applications in a world unshackling itself from the tyranny of distance. It is already being adapted to sign basketballs and will be used by entertainers, musicians ad infinitum to sign CD/DVDs and photos remotely. Instead of focussing on how much the value of a signed book is diminished by LongPen, we think Unotchit should forget the book market and go after the burgeoning distance-everything markets where it is a landmark tool that will enable public figures of all types to represent themselves more effectively to the global community.Read More


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