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Inventors & Remarkable People

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Video: Is Steve Durnin's D-Drive the holy grail of infinitely variable transmissions?

Ready for a bit of a mental mechanical challenge? Try your hand at understanding how the D-Drive works. Steve Durnin's ingenious new gearbox design is infinitely variable - that is, with your motor running at a constant speed, the D-Drive transmission can smoothly transition from top gear all the way through neutral and into reverse. It doesn't need a clutch, it doesn't use any friction drive components, and the power is always transmitted through strong, reliable gear teeth. In fact, it's a potential revolution in transmission technology - it could be pretty much the holy grail of gearboxes... If only it wasn't so diabolically hard to explain. We flew to Australia's Gold Coast to take a close look at the D-Drive - and it looks to us like Durnin has pulled a rabbit out of his hat. Check out the video after the jump and see if you can work out if there's a catch.Read More

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Computer pioneer Charles Thacker receives AM Turing Award

Does the name Charles Thacker mean anything to you? Here’s a hint – he has recently been awarded the Turing Award – the most prestigious award honor in computing and considered to be the computing equivalent of a Nobel Prize. What has he done to earn him such an illustrious award? It’s more a case of what hasn’t he done...Charles Thacker designed the Alto – the world’s first personal computer and a prototype for networked personal computers. He also made significant contributions to the Ethernet local area network, as well as the first multiprocessor workstation and the prototype for a tablet PC. Currently employed by Microsoft, Thacker joked that many of his achievements happened way before “Microsoft even existed, when Bill [Gates] was in short pants.”Read More

World first, TTXGP 2011 rule book goes wiki...

The highly innovative TTXGP organization, which has already created several national and international electric motorcycle racing series, continues to show the way forward for the future of motorsport management. In yet another groundbreaking move, TTXGP has acknowledged the limitations of committee-based systems for framing rules, and created a wiki that allows global input to be filtered through technical expertise to frame a better set of rules for everyone. “Rules are core to keeping a championship alive with innovation and competition,” said TTXGP’s Azhar Hussain on the TTXGP web site. “It's crucial that for TTXGP to thrive, we have a rules framework that is inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all the stakeholders.”
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Researchers show off tiny piezoelectric energy capture sensor

Working within the Holst Centre program on Micropower Generation and Storage, researchers have developed a small piezoelectric device capable of harvesting 85 microwatts of electricity from vibrations. Fabricated using MEMS technology, the fully autonomous temperature sensor generates enough power to wirelessly measure and transmit environmental data to a base station every 15 seconds.Read More

The Cargoshell: ingenious collapsible replacement for the standard shipping container

It’s just over 50 years since the shipping container took its first trip. Though it has changed little in the subsequent half century, standardised containerisation has dramatically reduced global transportation costs and supercharged international trade. Containerisation remains a beacon of efficiency only because it exists within the obscenely inefficient, environmentally irresponsible and otherwise resistant-to-change shipping industry. Now a new collapsible composite container is being trialled which is ingeniously more efficient, lighter, cheaper, more easily trackable, more accountable in terms of its contents and more environmentally-friendly. Despite a raft of advantages, it might not go into service because ...Read More

Pi decimal place computing record broken by a humble PC

If there was ever a magical number, it is pi, the mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi appears in countless formulae in mathematics and engineering and is roughly 3.14159 though because it is an irrational number (meaning it will continue infinitely without repeating), it is forever the subject of efforts to calculate it to the most number of decimal places. Since 1995, the record has been held by supercomputers, which have progressed the record to 2577 billion decimal places. Now the record has been broken again, but this time by a desktop PC with a humble Core i7 CPU running at 2.93 GHz, with 6 GB RAM and 7.5 TB of disk storage. Read More

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Feature: Decoding Bletchley Park's history

At first glance, even second glance, Bletchley Park could easily be just another beautiful British building deserving of some loving care and attention. But for many years its walls guarded one of the best kept secrets of the 20th Century. During the Second World War it was the top secret home to the cryptanalysts, mathematicians and military personnel later credited with shortening the war by at least two years and saving millions of lives by breaking the secret ciphers used in Nazi communications. Seventy years after war was declared on Germany, Gizmag's Paul Ridden takes a closer look at what went on at HMS Pembroke V, the people who worked there and talks to some of the those now dedicated to ensuring that its legacy lives on.Read More

StairSteady gives a helping hand up stairs

We’ve seen some innovative free-standing personal mobility aids designed to tackle stairs in recent times, but this offering from a young UK inventor takes a fresh approach to a solution that's been around for years - the mechanical stair-lift. Conceived by Ruth Amos when she was just 16 years old, the StairSteady is a handrail with a unique steadying handle and locking device that supports the user whilst on the staircase while allowing them to remain active and independent.Read More

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Bonhams auctions remarkable collection of technology antiques – the Michael Bennett-Levy Early Technology Sale

The freight train progress of technology during the last century has masked the true value of landmark specimens of mankind’s technological triumphs. First-of-a-kind devices were quickly superseded and hence soon regarded as useless in comparison to newer, better equipment. Accordingly, we believe an auction to be held in London this week represents some of the finest medium-term investments we have ever seen, with a likelihood of their value increasing dramatically once historical perspective is restored. The auction includes 758 examples of almost all forms of early technology including many firsts – and the largest privately held collection of early televisions in the world. Read More

Guitar pioneer Les Paul - 1915-2009

Genuis. Pioneer. Innovator. Words that don't even come close to describing the revolutionary thinking of one Lester William Polsfus. Better known as Les Paul, he had such a huge influence on the world of modern music that it's difficult to sum up his achievements in such a short piece. I use the past tense because sadly the Wizard of Waukesha died in a New York Hospital on August 13th.Read More

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