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Tech That Will Save Our Species - Solar Thermal Power 648

NoMoreCoal writes "Salon has up a story by Joe Romm, former undersecretary of energy during the Clinton administration, discussing a lesser-known alternative energy solution. It's a technology that (he claims) is ready to provide zero-carbon electric power big, fast, cheap and (most importantly) right now: solar thermal power. 'Improvements in manufacturing and design, along with the possibility of higher temperature operation, could easily bring the price down to 6 to 8 cents per kilowatt hour. CSP makes use of the most abundant and free fuel there is, sunlight, and key countries have a vast resource. Solar thermal plants covering the equivalent of a 92-by-92-mile square grid in the Southwest could generate electricity for the entire United States. Mexico has an equally enormous solar resource. China, India, southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Australia also have huge resources.'" Interesting stuff, even if he does mention the Archimedes Death Ray.

MIT Picks Top 10 Emerging Technologies 70

DeviceGuru writes "MIT's Technology Review magazine has just published its annual list of the top ten emerging technologies. Dubbed the TR10, these revolutionary innovations are poised to have a dramatic impact on computing, medicine, nanotechnology, our energy infrastructure, and more, say the magazine's editors. The TR10 technologies this time around are: cellulolytic enzymes, reality mining, connectomics, offline web apps, graphene transistors, atomic magnetometers, wireless power, nanoradio, probabilistic chips, modeling surprise. More details on the TR10 appear in the March/April edition of Technology Review."

A Robotic Taxi Named robuCAB 69

Roland Piquepaille writes "According to ICT Results, an EU-funded project named Embounded 'has achieved the twin, and apparently contradictory, goals of making embedded systems both smarter and tougher.' One example is the robuCAB, a '4 seat automated people mover' developed by a French company and built from a 4 wheel-drive electric chassis with on-board PC. This autonomous vehicle follows the curb and carries several embedded systems, with one camera on the path edge, another device tracking the angle and direction of the curb, while others control the gearing and acceleration. robuCABs are not totally independent. They move over pre-defined circuits which contain a series of sensors below the ground. But read more for additional references and a picture of two robuCABs on the road."

Cyber-Goggles Record and Identify Every Object You See 108

RemyBR writes "Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a smart video goggle system that records everything the wearer looks at, recognizes and assigns names to objects that appear in the video. Advanced programs then go back and create an easily searchable database of the recorded footage. Designed to function as a high-tech memory aid, these 'Cyber Goggles' promise to make the act of losing your keys a thing of the past, according to head researcher professor Tatsuya Harada. 'In a demonstration at the University of Tokyo last week, 60 everyday items -- including a potted begonia, CD, hammer and cellphone -- were programmed into the Cyber Goggle memory. As the demonstrator walked around the room viewing and recording the various objects, the names of the items appeared on the goggle screen. The demonstrator was then able to do a search for the various items and retrieve the corresponding video.'" Add in facial recognition technology and this would make for a great aid at conferences and family reunions.

MIT's Nano Storage Could Replace Hybrid Batteries 191

mattnyc99 writes "Last week we discussed Popular Mechanics' reporting from MIT, but missed one of the coolest breakthrough of all, something scientists have been working on quietly as Detroit spends money elsewhere. The Lab for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems has been doing some mega-efficient work with ultracapacitors, which store drastically less energy than a battery but have essentially none of the drawbacks — especially via carbon nanotube arrays. Automotive experts say the new research is enough to start replacing batteries in hybrid cars, and plug-in vehicles might not be far behind. From the scientist who thinks ultracapacitors are potential competitors for the pack in his Toyota Prius: 'I try to contain myself, because it hasn't been proven yet, but it could be a real paradigm change.'"
The Military

US Military Seeks Hypersonic Weaponry 332

Dr. Eggman writes "In an interview with the Star-Telegram, the Air Force's chief scientist, Mark Lewis, talks about the USAF's latest research direction. The service is working on hypersonic missile and bombers for the purposes of reconnaissance and attack. In response to Chinese and Russian anti-satellite developments, the Air Force plans to develop weapons capable of sustained travel at Mach 6 to allow them to deploy against and take out anti-satellite launch sites before the enemy can fire their missiles. Furthermore, should the US spy satellite network be brought down, the Mach 6 recon flight systems would be capable of filling in. Air Force officials hope to deploy a new interim bomber by 2018, followed by a more advanced, and possibly unmanned, bomber in 2035." We've discussed on a number of occasions the scramjet technology that would power such vehicles.

Electronic Paper's Past and Future 154

Iddo Genuth sends us to TFOT for his extended series of interviews around the question of how electronic paper will change our lives in the next few years. The article leads off with the "father of e-paper," Nick Sheridon, who came up with the idea almost 35 years ago at Xerox PARC, and goes on to explore how e-paper may evolve past its current incarnations in the likes of the Sony Reader.

Another Pass at the Personal Jetpack 259

Engadget is reporting that dreams of a personal jet pack may not be quite as distant as you might think. Skywalker Jets, created by Rick Herron boasts a 90-pound jet pack capable of propelling a 200-pound pilot through the air for about five minutes without the hassle of charred lower extremities. The production model, which he hopes to run past the FAA soon for approval, will only cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 — so start saving your pennies.

Phantom Lapboard On Sale August 15th 68

MBraynard writes "No idea when they are launching the actual console, Infinium Labs has announced that in under a month, they will start selling the Phantom Lapboard from their online store. They have even found a partner to help sell the Lapboard in Europe." From the article: "The Company has commissioned Touchwood, a solutions-oriented, technology- based strategic marketing communications firm based in St. Louis, to plan and implement major revisions to the design and content of the [Phantom] website. The website revisions will incorporate direct marketing capabilities including an online merchant store to support business to consumer and business to business transactions with credit card banking services."

Bacterial DVD Holds 50TB 268

CAMags writes to tell us that a Harvard Professor is claiming to have developed a new variant of a protein called bacteriorhodopsin (bR) that, when layered on a DVD, can store up to 50TB of data. From the article: "The light-activated protein is found in the membrane of a salt marsh microbe Halobacterium salinarum and is also known as bacteriorhodopsin (bR). It captures and stores sunlight to convert it to chemical energy. When light shines on bR, it is converted to a series of intermediate molecules each with a unique shape and color before returning to its 'ground state.'"

Practical Applications of Smell Recordings 172

ozmanjusri writes to mention a Tokyo Institute of Technology project to record scents for later playback. The New Scientist article suggests this technology could be used in commercials and medical applications. From the article: "Simply point the gadget at a freshly baked cookie, for example, and it will analyse its odour and reproduce it for you using a host of non-toxic chemicals. The device could be used to improve online shopping by allowing you to sniff foods or fragrances before you buy, to add an extra dimension to virtual reality environments and even to assist military doctors treating soldiers remotely by recreating bile, blood or urine odours that might help a diagnosis."

The Pentagon's Supersonic, Shape-Shifting Assassin 489

grammar fascist writes "CNN reports that Northrop Grumman is under contract to build a new supersonic, shape-shifting bomber by 2020. The main innovation is in its single, rotating wing. From the article: '[It] will cruise with its 200-foot-long wing perpendicular to its engines like a normal airplane. But just before the craft breaks the sound barrier, its single wing will swivel around 60 degrees (hence the name) so that one end points forward and the other back. This oblique configuration redistributes the shock waves that pile up in front of a plane at Mach speeds and cause drag. When the Switchblade returns to subsonic speeds, the wing will rotate back to perpendicular.'"

It is your destiny. - Darth Vader