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— Music

Weird and wonderful: the best instruments of 2012

Should you find yourself thinking about supergroups, you'll likely center on the famous names that make up the bands and not the instruments they use. Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, for example, rather than the double-necked Gibson EDS-1275, or Cream's Jack Bruce instead of his Gibson EB-3, or Brad Wilk of Audioslave/RATM and not the custom Gretsch drumkits he uses. Being as much fans of the tech behind the hits as the talented folks who create them, we've grouped together a super collection of favorite music-making gadgets from the past year. Read More
— Inventors and Remarkable People

Acoustic wind pavilion makes music out of thin air

Aeolus, a fascinating acoustic wind sculpture made by prolific Bristol artist Luke Jerram, is as much a feast for the ears as it is for the eyes. Named after the mythical Greek ruler of the four winds and built in conjunction with the University of Southampton's Institute of Sound and Vibration Research and the University of Salford's Acoustics Research Center, the giant aeolian wind harp is intended to inspire the public to learn more about the amazing things that can happen when engineering, acoustics and aerodynamics are blended together. Read More
— Marine

The GPS built JUST for sailing with Bluetooth Wind Monitoring (required reading if you sail)

One of the problems of using GPS chartplotters on a sailboat is that it is extremely difficult to calculate accurate arrival times given the amount of tacking often involved. Now there's a purpose-built Sailing GPS that not only accounts for the tacking that sailboats do, but can can tell you the optimal tacking angles and your Tacking Time to Destination (TTD). Read More
— Space

NASA Observatory records 20 million-mph winds off stellar-mass black hole

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has recorded ultra-fast 20 million-mph (32 million km/h) winds roaring from a gas disk around the stellar-mass black hole IGR J17091-3624. The wind speeds are a record, a factor of ten greater than any previously recorded, for a black hole of this kind. It is hoped the surprise discovery will shed new light on the behavior of stellar-mass black holes. Read More
— Architecture

Wind tunnel office concept pitched at tropical climes

By embracing wind "as an architectural element", architectural practice Betillon/Dorval-Bory believes its anabatic office concept is ideally suited to hot and humid climes. But rather than relying on natural air movement, the anabatic office seeks to create its own wind, so that energy-efficient cooling can occur where little natural wind occurs. Anabatic is a word that describes an uphill wind generated by a localized heat source. Read More
— Good Thinking

Flammability of wooden decks to be tested by fire-breathing 'Dragon'

Thousands of people were left homeless this May, when over 40 percent of the town of Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada was destroyed by a wildfire that started in the adjacent forest. This is just one example of the devastation that can result when fires occur in what is known as the wildland-urban interface. While some buildings are destroyed when the wildfire itself reaches them, others can catch fire due to wind-borne embers from that fire. In an effort to test how well wooden decks are able to resist such embers, America's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created something known as the Dragon - it's a device that sucks in tree mulch, and "breathes" it out as firebrands. Read More