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Environment

CSIRO sets world record in generating "supercritical" steam using solar power

Researchers at Australia's CSIRO have claimed a world record for the highest temperatures ever achieved using solar energy to generate "supercritical" steam at its solar thermal test plant in Newcastle, Australia. Featuring more than 600 directional mirrors (heliostats) directed at two towers housing solar receivers and turbines, the researchers produced the steam at a pressure of 23.5 MPa (3400 psi) and 570° C (1,058° F). Read More

Science

Shape-changing mirror puts lasers in focus

One cinematic cliché we've all seen is when the hero deflects the villain's dastardly laser beam with a hastily snatched hand mirror, sending it back at his adversary. Physics, ever the wet blanket, says that this is a highly improbable scenario. Focusing high-powered lasers isn't easy. A powerful laser distorts the mirror, throwing the beam off and spreading it out uselessly. To combat this, Fraunhofer is developing a lens that can deform itself to compensate for heating and other distortion factors to keep lasers focused on target.Read More

Around The Home

Toshiba's smart mirror concept puts the future on display

Every now and then we get demonstrations of really innovative new technologies and concepts that almost no one has any chance of being able to own anytime soon. The best place to undergo this particular form of torture is at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This year at CES, a really fantastic "smart mirror" concept from Toshiba fit the bill.Read More

RearViz "arms" cyclists with rear vision

There’s no doubt that using a rear-view mirror makes it safer to cycle on public roads. That said, some riders may feel that a bike-mounted mirror is just one more bit of handlebar clutter. The RearViz mirror offers an alternative – it mounts on the rider’s arm. Read More

Good Thinking

Car mirror copies eyeglasses to eliminate blind spots

Usually when we hear the term “progressive optics” it’s in reference to bi- or trifocal glasses, that don’t have sharp lines between the different focal zones of the lenses. A group of scientists from Korea and the US, however, have recently used the technology to create something else – a prototype driver’s side car mirror that has no blind spot, yet that also doesn’t distort images in an unsafe manner. Read More

Science

Cold mirror makes hot astrophotos a snap

While nearly everyone enjoys a good astrophoto, the precision with which the astrograph (the telescope taking the photograph) must follow the stars is not widely appreciated. To take a good astrophoto of any but the brightest objects requires following their motion through the sky accurately. There are a number of approaches toward addressing this problem in the digital era. Perhaps the best option has now been enabled by Innovations Foresight's new ON-Axis Guider (ONAG).Read More

Urban Transport

Building a better bicycle rear-view mirror

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles resulted in the deaths of 618 cyclists in 2010 ... and that’s just in the United States. Regardless of who was at fault in those accidents, one thing is certain – urban cyclists are safer when they’re better able to keep tabs on the vehicles around them. While helmet-mounted mirrors are a great help in that regard, many cyclists don’t use them. That’s why Canadian entrepreneurs Greg Maxwell and Richard Seck invented the Isoteko mirror.Read More

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