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Prototype Nokia phone recharges without wires - Blogs - Yahoo! Canada Tech

Ok, the title is a bit misleading, but the tech is still cool. Nokia has a prototype phone that is able to scavenge about 5 milliwatts of energy from ambient radio waves. While not enough to power a phone under normal use, it might be enough to keep it from dying completely. They hope to eventually be able to collect as much as 50 milliwatts from ambient radio energy.
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Concept: Nokia Handgun Cellphone Is Ultimate Redneck Convergence Device

The handgun-cellphone combo. Not to be confused with the cellphone gun, which is a gun disguised as a cellphone. The image shown here is a concept and was apparently generated using Photoshop, but it's only  a matter of time before someone builds the real thing.

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Lofty wireless platforms for high speed broadband

Britain is testing a scheme to use tethered balloons as platforms for wireless signals. Preliminary tests show that data delivery rates can be increased by as much as 200 times compared to ground-mounted wireless platforms.
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Scientists Hack Cellphone to Analyze Blood, Detect Disease, Help Developing Nations

"Using only an LED, plastic light filter and some wires, scientists at UCLA have modded a cellphone into a portable blood tester capable of detecting HIV, malaria and other illnesses." In essence, a coherent light source illuminates a blood sample, a picture of which is captured by the cell phone. Custom software analyzes the sample and generates a preliminary diagnosis in minutes, at least enough to warrant finding a more qualified physician. The mod is intended as a cheap alternative for blood testing in remote villages.
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A new study finds, yet again, that driving while talking on a cellphone, even a hands-free, is far more unsafe that talking with a passenger. There may be three intuitive reasons for this: 1) with a passenger you have a second person who can alert you to hazards you miss, 2) a passenger can see and evaluate your driving ability so it is in the driver's best interest to be seen to be driving safely, and 3)  when you are talking on a cell phone you are mentally with the listener, not in the car.

Carleton University has decided to reverse their decision to pull out of the Shinerama fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis. They had originally voted to drop Shinerama because they believed it to be an illness that strikes primarily male Caucasians. The disease, in fact strike men and women in equal proportion and afflicts people of Indian and Middle Eastern descent as well as Caucasians. Bob MacDonald, host of CBC's Quirks and Quarks, referred to the decision as emerging from "an information rich, knowledge poor" culture that plagues our modern world.

A Quebec car dealer is offering a deal of one free Dodge Calibre with every purchase of a luxury Chrysler 300C. The dealer says that the promotion will generate neither profit not loss for them, but will clear space for next year's models so they hope to come out ahead in the end.

Recent research has discovered that people diagnosed as being autistic react 1/20th of a second slower to sounds than those not diagnosed as autistic based on MEG scans. The researchers believe that this may be linked to post-mortem studies that have noticed fewer connections among neurons in the brains of people who had been diagnosed a autistic. They hope that this research will lead to a classification system for degree of autism, pending the results of studies using young children.

NASA has officially stopped listening for messages from the Phoenix Lander.

Those of you wanting something to look at in the sky might be interested to know that the "ISS Toolbag", dropped recently by an astronaut doing repairs outside the ISS, can be seen using a pair of 10x50 binoculars. The bag is expected to burn up on re-entry in June.

A University of California researcher has demonstrated a logic gate that based on the interference of spin waves. Spin wave-based gates can, theoretically, be made even smaller than traditional logic gates, and don't involve the movement of electrons so require far less power and generate far less waste heat. A number of significant challenges remain before this approach can be used to build spin-based chips.

US researchers have developed a "cyborg leaf" that is able to convert light to electricity, albeit far less efficiently than contemporary photovoltaics. The photosynthetic system consists of a protein complex harvested from spinach and deposited on a gold leaf substrate. Significant work is required to make the system commercially viable, but the materials and construction process is relatively cheap so it promising.
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Source: New Scientist
It is a little-known fact that GPS does not work under water. A newly-patented system uses a tethered base station with a known GPS location that responds to a special sonar pulse. Triangulation of the return times from several base stations gives an approximation of the submarine's GPS coordinates.

Source: New Scientist
Military scientists have developed a new type of torpedo that explodes without explosives. Normally the heat from the engine is dissipated, but in proposed design the heat is used to turn aluminum metal into molten metal. The impact ruptures the titanium shell and releases the molten metal into the water where a thermal explosion takes place as the water instantly turns to steam and expands. As the metal cools it becomes shrapnel that does further damage to the target.

Source: Sunday Telegraph
Ok, it's one thing to disagree with scientists who don't hold the same view, but threatening them. This is precisely what is happening to some climate scientists who do not support the theory of global warming. A University of Winnipeg climatologist has received five death threats as a result of his stand on global warming. Now, I disagree with his, and other climatologists statements that global warming is a fraud, but they should be able to voice their opinion without fear for their lives. Different opinions, even those radically opposed to each other, are the cornerstone of healthy science. If they are wrong, then the facts will eventually favour those who are correct.

Source: PhysOrg
MobileSign.org is a video dictionary of 5,000 words in British Sign Language, designed to be accessible via cell phone. The free service is designed to help parents of deaf children by allowing them to look up the sign for a word. The service can be found at www.mobilesign.org for those of you who might benefit.

Source: Scientific American
A recent study has discovered that signals indicating the body's fat level can become suppressed. As a result, it ceases to adjust appetite and activity level to compensate for growing fat stores. It is hoped that future research will yield a way to re-sensitize the brain to the level of fat stored by the body as a way to combat obesity. In particular, people, most often those who consume a high-fat diet, can develop a desensitivity to leptin, a hormone that indicates the level of fat in their body. Obese people have high leptin levels, but it is theorized that their brains no longer adjust appetite in response to leptin levels. This may provide a way to treat obesity by resensitizing the brain to leptin.
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Source: BBC News
A group of Swedish researchers claim that they have "...detected patterns which show warm-heartedness and trust or neuroticism and impulsiveness...." in the pits and lines of a person's iris. Based on an examination of 428 people, they claim that iris "crypts" (pits) and "furrows" (lines) are determined by a neurodevelopmental gene called PAX6. They state that "...those with more crypts were likely to be tender, warm and trusting, while those with more furrows were more likely to be neurotic, impulsive and give in to cravings." Sounds an awful lot like palm reading to me.

Source: Reuters
A study (funded by the maker of Mars bars) has found that flavanols in chocolate increase blood flow to the brain so may be useful in helping to treat certain forms of vascular impairment. This finding is supposed to be particular interest to older people; a small dose of chocolate may help offset cognitive impairment. If you need an excuse to eat chocolate, this is as good as any, but take any study funded by people with a vested interest with a grain of, er, cocoa. It'll help you think better.

Source: Reuters
Japanese researchers have successfully grown working teeth from primitive cells, at least for mice. They harvested the cells from each mouse and placed them in a collagen matrix which was eventually transplanted back into each mouse. The teeth appeared to grow and function normally. The next step is to apply this technology to replacing teeth in humans.

Source: Sci Fi Tech
SMS Technology in Australia are releasing a Bluetooth-enabled cellphone watch that is compatible with any GSM network.

Source: Globe and Mail
File this under "really bad ideas". Two years ago, a businessman in Texas decided to make hunting easier for the disabled by trapping animals in a pen with an internet-controlled rifle and a webcam. Anyone in the world could then pay for the privilege of shooting these animals from the comfort of their own home. In response, the state of Texas declared internet hunting illegal because there was no way to confirm that the hunters even had a valid license. The Human Society is, understandably, pushing for a nationwide ban.
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Source: MAKE Magazine
Tired of stacking dishes? This device recycles cups, bowls and plates by molding new ones from the remains of the old. The device uses the shape-memory of acrylic to regenerate a dish thousands of times before becomes real garbage. Mind you, it still doesn't replace a dishwasher, just the cupboards.

Source: MedGadget
Duke University researchers have developed a way to weave artificial cartilage. The weave forms a scaffold on which stem cells can be placed to grow replacement cartilage.

Source: MedGadget
MIT researchers have developed a "computer" that uses bubbles instead of electronics to transfer information.This means that the bubbles themselves can carry information that previously had to be converted to electrical impulses. The interactions of bubbles within the microfluidic channels becomes a form of processing, with the presence or absence of a bubble being equivalent to a high or low voltage in a conventional microprocessor.

Source: SlashDot
The University of Washington is working on a system for allowing the death deaf (thanks [livejournal.com profile] trippingpossum) to talk through cellphones using sign language. The challenge is to find a video compression method that will work with the low data rates that cellphones use while retaining the message. The study is looking for people fluent in ASL (American Sign Language) so if you are interested, pay them a visit at http://www.cs.washington.edu/research/MobileASL/ where you can find a sign-up page.

Source: BBC News
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb for alerting me to this. The latest food fad in Shanghai is mutant potato. Specifically, consumers are lining up to sample purple potatoes grown from seeds mutated in space during a recent manned Chinese space mission.
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Source: Wired
The US Air Force has developed a camera that can follow bullets in flight (follow the link to a video of a speeding bullet caught in flight). The technology can be adapted to tracking anything slower than a speeding bullet so may find its way into a wide range of applications. The trick is to learn from what the human eye does: it focuses on what's important and ignores the rest, what they are referring to as a "virtual fovea". This means that things like a bullet that are moving in the scene get processed rapidly and the rest is discarded or processed as time permits. Tracking uses a standard quick-fix technique of keeping some aspect of the environment, such as the brightest or closest object, in the centre of the image by moving the camera between frames. The idea is old, but the results are new.

Source: Defense Tech
You might recall from an earlier post that the military was planning to build a giant spy blimp. That idea was canned in the most recent budget review.

Source: jkOnTheRun
This is a cool application of range imaging using single-picture photogrammetry. A person places a 7.5x7.5 inch white panel somewhere in a scene and, using the relative size of the panel's black border, the camera calculates the dimensions of lines in the image. Great for measuring, say, a house (such as in the picture), or any other planar structure.

Source: IOL: New Ideas
here's an interesting idea. Someone has taken out a patent on a cell phone in which the numbers are placed ABOVE the screen. Apparently this makes typing text messages using the thumb easier because the buttons are at the natural position for the thumb. It will be interesting to see where this idea goes.

Source: Gizmag
We all know about the computerized systems that mechanics regularly use to run diagnostics on our cars, and I've run into problems with being unable to decrypt diagnostics information (in my case, Saturn's proprietary format). Enter the Smart Automotive Management System (SAMS) that reads your car's diagnostics information and interprets it for those who are not professional mechanics. This $15(US) gadget can read the logged data of any car made after 1996.
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Source: Gizmodo
This devices uses black light to make stains stand out in your carpet or furniture. Of course, now you have to figure out how to get them out. Sometime ignorance truly is bliss.

Source: Gizmodo
Hold one end of these plastic strips between your teeth and drag your fingernail along the ridges results in you hearing a message. A package of 5 costs $20(US) and has messages like "happy birthday" and "congratulations". Birthday and other reasons to celebrate not included.

Source: Gizmodo
The US military is proposing to build a magnetic launch ring to put things into orbit (or at least, to lob them far up into the atmosphere). The payloads can be 220-pounds and will be released at 21,600-mph. This rules out the possibility of human launches, given that the payload will at some point be subjected to 10,000-gravities of force. Humans typically black out before 10-gravities.

Source: Gizmodo
This device detects your finger position on your hand so that it can use each of the 12 finger joints to represent the keys on a regular cell phone.

Source: Coolest Gadgets
Scientists have succeeded in creating a device envisioned by physicist James Maxwell more than 150 years ago called a Maxwell's Demon. The "demon" is a nanoscale device that captures molecules as they pass through in a particular direction when illuminated by light. This could lead to nanodevices that move by being irradiated with a laser because the molecule being captured imparts a force to the machine, causing it to move away from the now-captured molecule under the force of momentum.
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Source: Defence Tech
British SAS troops are expanding the functionality of their WASP micro-spy planes by loading them with C4. The US Air Force, meanwhile, plans to go one better by using a swarm of them to attack vehicles or structures.

Source: National Post
Telus is the first phone company to offer access to pornographic videos and pictures as part of their cell phone service. Only in Canada'r, eh? Pity.

Source: SlashDot
Apparently Google maps pixelates out facilities that are considered "high risk. For example, the Operational Nuclear Research facility at the University of Massachusetts shows up as a blur. Here's a project: see if you can find any other pixelated sites.

Source: ABC News
An Israeli inventor has a novel idea for getting the flying car out of science fiction and into regular use: use them for emergency vehicles. They key, he says, is that a flying car (or equivalent) has the maneuverability of a helicopter but the rotors are enclosed so are less prone to damage. This makes them, and in particular his design, better suited to situations like saving people from the top of burning skyscrapers and saving those trapped behind enemy lines. The only drawback is that the rotors are smaller so these vehicles use 50% more fuel than a traditional helicopter. There is more information in his vehicle here.

Source: PhysOrg
Although it may be contrary to logic, making polymer nanofibers thinner may actually make them stronger. Specifically, at a diameter about 100 times thinner than a human hair these fibers suddenly become much stiffer. If they could be mass produced at this diameter, the fibers could be used to make much stronger fabrics that are thinner and lighter than possible today.
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Source: ABC News
Want to quit smoking? Try brain surgery. The discovery that a stroke victim forgot his addiction to cigarettes has lead researchers to study a portion of the brain, known as the insula, that may play an important function in addictions. Although brain surgery is an extreme and unlikely cure for addiction, studies of the insula may lead to drug therapies that can help treat addictions. One researcher wants to try transcranial magnetic stimulation to determine if it might have an effect.

Source: PhysOrg
For many Canadians, a day simply does not start with a Timmy's double-double and a chocolate-glazed donut. With the help of scientists, the donut may be able to do double duty as both the coffee and the snack. Scientists in North Carolina have developed a way to add caffeine to baked goods without adding bitterness. Each donut (or whatever you're baking) would have the equivalent of two cups of coffee.

Source: Slashdot
Apparently the metal in a US penny could be worth as much as 5 cents due to a rise in the value of copper. There is concern that speculators could purchase pennies en mass and melt them down for their metal, earning a profit in the deal.

Source: C|Net
Motorola has released a new cell phone docking station for your bicycle that can also charge your phone as you ride. Nice idea, but cyclists and cell phones are just as as bad as drivers and cell phones. The two should not mix.

Source: NY Times
Intel has announced that they can combat current leakage in chips by using new metallic alloys for insulation in the their chip designs. The result is a faster chip that draws less power so runs cooler. This chips are expected to hit the market later this year.

January 2010

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