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Inventors and Remarkable People

Robert Lang's Origami art

Robert Lang laughs in the face of your paper crane. This former NASA engineer and Ph.D in Physics has spent the last seven years as a professional Origami expert after using computer algorithms and ridiculous folding skills to come up with some of the most mind-bending paper art we've ever seen. One sheet of uncut paper in Lang's hands can become a beetle, a dinosaur, an elk or an organist sitting at a keyboard. Using his freeware computer software, he can show you how to make just about anything you like. And through his theories on the mathematics of folding, he has come to find himself consulting on a range of fascinating projects that extend the art into practical and industrial uses - his advanced techniques have been used to pack automobile airbags and even fold up the lens of a space telescope for transport and deployment. Amazing stuff.  Read More

Leon Theremin

After the close of WWII, Russian schoolchildren presented the U.S. ambassador with a “gesture of friendship” in the form of a two-foot wooden replica of the Seal of the United States. Behind the beak of the eagle was a miniscule listening device so ingeniously designed that it took eight years before a routine check unearthed it. The era of electronic bugs had begun, and it was largely thanks to the brilliant mind of Leon Theremin: musician, inventor, and prisoner in Stalin’s gulag.  Read More

iPhone Firmware 2.2 Jailbroken, PwnageTool and QuickPwn 2.2 now available

It will never cease to amaze us how quickly the iPhone Dev Team can bust open a new version of the iPhone Firmware. This time, around 48 hours after iPhone Firmware 2.2 hit, we already have a new version of QuickPwn and PwnageTool. Before you go ahead and jailbreak your iPhone 3G, please make sure you fully understand the following caveat: If you use QuickPwn instead of PwnageTool, you may not be able to unlock your iPhone 3G once an unlocking tool is made available.  Read More

The checkered history of automation

"If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker” – attributed to Albert Einstein after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One law of science that has forever remained unchanged is the law of unintended consequences. When an idea is born its full range of repercussions is completely unpredictable, and the history of technology is a littered with fascinating examples of how one breakthrough can spawn something totally unexpected. In the hands of others, some do lead to tragedy, but more often than not we profit from technology's unexpected boons. Gizmag's Kyle Sherer follows some of these strange tangents to discover how an 18th century chess playing machine, French duck faeces, and a 60s movie called “Sex Kittens Go to College” are linked to the development of the computer, automobile, telephone and even space exploration.  Read More

iPhone 3G unlock coming...

The iPhone Dev Team has posted a video showing their recent progress with the iPhone 3G. They have hacked their way in to the PMB8878 baseband processor, which gives them unrestricted access to the iPhone 3G hardware - and, you guessed it, the means to unlock the phone for use on any carrier.  Read More

NASA celebrates 50 years
 Image Credit: NASA

October 1, 2008 Cochlear implants, ultrasonically welded swimsuits, DustBusters, and freeze-dried food. You owe more to NASA than you think. Fifty years ago today, NASA’s employees turned up for their first day at work. One-hundred and fifty manned missions, $810.459 billion present-day dollars, and 382 kilograms of moon rocks later, the ripples from the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have influenced society and the development of technology in ways we rarely detect. Kyle Sherer takes a closer look at the history and major achievements of the last half-century.  Read More

On the day of the attempt

He made it! Earlier this week we reported on the incredible challenge undertaken by Fusionman Yves Rossy in attempting to fly solo across the English Channel using his home-made jet-powered wing, a feat he successfully completed on Thursday at 1:19 BST when he parachuted into Dover less than 15 minutes after leaving the skies above France. Great picture gallery of the event.  Read More

'The Yorkshire Aestel' – one of the original knowledge Gizmos to go under the hammer

September 18, 2008 'The Yorkshire Aestel' belongs to a small group of only seven known aestels; the most celebrated of which is the Alfred Jewel. An aestel is a pointer designed for the reading of manuscripts and most were commissioned by Alfred the Great, famous warrior king of England and one of history’s great champions of learning, justice and civilisation. King Alfred commissioned and sent aestels to all the bishops of his kingdom to accompany a copy of a translation of Pope Gregory I's Regula Pastoralis. Curiously, despite being one of the first man-made objects specifically designed to assist with furthering knowledge, this rare object is only expected to fetch between UKP10,000-15,000 when it goes to auction – perhaps this is a reflection on our modern values, perhaps the opportunity for a treasured possession of true meaning. A gold pointer steeped in history and the very roots of hand-written monastic scholarly endeavour , and dating from the late 9th Century is surely worth much more.  Read More

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
 Photo by Scott Henrichsen (scottfoto.com)

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and from the beginning a strong advocate for keeping it free and open to everyone, has officially unveiled an organization designed to do just that. The World Wide Web Foundation states its goal as seeking "to advance One Web that is free and open, to expand the Web's capability and robustness, and to extend the Web's benefits to all people on the planet."  Read More

Fishing for profits on world caviar market

August 28, 2008 Until recently, the Caspian Sea has been the world's main source of the sturgeon that produces the black fish roe delicacy we know and covet as caviar. Sadly, over-fishing and pollution have led to dwindling fishing yields in the region. Now scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have begun farming sturgeon with a view to supplying the growing caviar market. Given they now have 40,000 sturgeon in outdoor pools, and the average female sturgeon can produce US$3,000 worth of caviar, it looks like becoming big business.  Read More

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