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Radio-controlled bullets leave no place to hide - tech - 04 June 2009 - New Scientist

The US military is developing 25-mm explosive rounds that can detonate a predetermined distance from the target. The gun uses a laser range finder to determine the distance to the target, and the shooter can add or subtract up to 3 metres from the target distance. The bullet contains a magnetic transducer that generates an alternating current as it flies through the earth's magnetic field, allowing it to calculate the number of rotations it has made and, but extension, the distance it has travelled. They hope to field-test prototypes by 2012.
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MIT researchers have developed a microchip based on standard fabrication methods that uses as little as 10% of the power of current microchips. They used a scalable voltage approach to deal with the issue of switching errors (where the divide between a 1 and a 0 becomes lost in low-voltage noise), resulting in increasing the number of transistors used each memory cell from 6 to 8. As expected, the cost of reducing voltage and reducing processing speed, but the chip is expected to find use in various medical and military devices that could benefit from ultra-low voltage operation.
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From National Geographic News
Plants Can Recognize, Communicate With Relatives, Studies Find - Plants are able to recognize close family members, treating them differently than unrelated neighbors, new research suggests. Susan Dudley and Amanda File of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, report they have demonstrated for the first time that plants can recognize their kin. This suggests that plants, though lacking cognition and memory, are capable of complex social interactions.


From News @ Nature
Ouch, I saw that - Some people literally feel what they see. 'Mirror touch' synaesthesia is a strange but real condition, and it might be wide-spread, psychologists have found. So-called mirror-touch synaesthetes actually feel a touch on their own skin when they watch someone else being touched. Perhaps as a consequence, they also show more emotional empathy than normal people.


From Space.com


Amazing New Mirror Reflects Ambition for Lunar Telescope - Scientists have successfully coated a liquid surface with a thin layer of silver metal, creating a highly reflective mirror that could be used to create mammoth liquid-mirror telescopes on the moon. Such a lunar observatory could be as wide as football a field, letting scientists peer back to a time when the first stars in the universe were born. Researchers led by Ermanno Borra of Laval University in Quebec, Canada, applied the silver film layer to the surface of an ionic liquid, a fluid that consists only of charged particles
Pilotless Spy Planes and Automatic Airliners - For aviation, UAVs represent the wave of the future, particularly for military uses. But a major problem must be solved for UAVs to see wide application in civil aviation. The world's civil aviation regulators must become satisfied that UAVs can operate safely and seamlessly within the complex air traffic control and civil airspace systems established for human-piloted aircraft.
Deep Hole Found on Mars - A very dark spot on Mars could be an entrance to a deep hole or cavern. The hole might be the sort of place that could support life or serve as a habitat for future astronauts, researchers speculated.


From EurekAlert! - Space and Planetary Science

Moon jobs will tax mental health of workers - According to Chester Spell, an associate professor of management at the Rutgers School of Business—Camden, the lunar settlements of tomorrow – or, for that matter, the space stations of today – carry long-term implications for the mental health of employees working in isolation for extended periods. Depression and anxiety will reach new levels among those employees, creating mental and cardiovascular health problems as well as a sharp decline in productivity.
DIY anti-satellite system - Satellite tracking software freely available on the Internet and some textbook physics could be used by any organization that can get hold of an intermediate range rocket to mount an unsophisticated attack on military or civilian satellites.


From BBC News - Science and Nature


Patient bleeds dark green blood - A team of Canadian surgeons got a shock when the patient they were operating on began shedding dark greenish-black blood, the Lancet reports.
Bear robot to rescue troops - The US military is developing a robot with a teddy bear-style head to help carry injured soldiers away from the battlefield.
Talking paper made by scientists - Researchers create digital paper that emits recorded sound in response to a user's touch.
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Source: PhysOrg
They say sex sells... but only if what you're selling is sex. A recent study showed that viewers have a harder time remembering products advertised during programs with a great deal of sexual content than they do remembering products advertised during similar programs with no sexual content. On the other hand, men tended to be better at recalling products if the advertisement contained sexual images. Sexual images in advertisements tended to cause women to make a negative association with the product. The moral: make the programs nonsexual and the adverts sexy if you want to sell man stuff.

Source: DailyTech
You're never too old to learn something new. Consider the retirement home in Chicago that has been taken over by Wii-madness. “I've never been into video games, but this is addictive," says one 72 year old resident. Not only is it increasing the activity level of the retirement home residence, grandkids visit often to help grandma and grandpa learn how to play some of the games, making this a highly social activity. Looks like a win-win situation to me.

Source: DailyTech
Continuing with their plans for developing a range of nonlethal methods for crowd control, the US military is exploring the use of "...a 7.3 million candela strobe floodlight system to incapacitate crowds of people." They hope to demonstrate the product some time next year. So now you have a choice, fry or be blinded. Or stay home.

Source: New Scientist
Japanese scientists are exploring the idea of using live bacteria loaded with artificial DNA as a from of data storage. Although the details are sketchy at this point, you would store data in the system by modifying the artificial DNA chains. They anticipate that the data would then be safe for up to 1-million years as it is passed down through generations. To demonstrate this, they encoded the message "E=mc^2 1905" into artificial DNA and inserted it into a colony of bacteria. They encoded the data in four different sequences to provide redundancy against mutations. Could bring a whole new meaning to the term "computer virus".... Honey! My memory stick's coughing up green phlegm again.

Source: PhysOrg
A group of researchers are beginning a project to convert videos of lip motion into text. They want to explore the feasibility of computerized lip reading for crimefighting.
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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: Popular Mechanics
Follow the link to see the recent explosion of a Sea Launch rocket carrying a satellite. You get to see what happens when 1 million pounds of rocket fuel ignites.

Source: PhysOrg
You can add key Indian buildings to the list of regions being pixelated on Google Earth. Google has responded to concerns by the Indian government that clear images of some of its buildings might pose a security risk. It makes one wonder what happens as the resolution of these images becomes far greater than it is. Will there come a point at which they will not increase the resolution of online images because of privacy concerns? Google Earth can already provide photos clearly showing the backyards of some neighbourhoods, including being able to see the property from different angles. Great if you're looking to buy the property, but could this eventually become an issue among privacy advocates.

Source: Gizmodo
The F-22A is fast and highly maneuverable, but it's only means of communication with the ground or other pilots is through the pilot's voice. In this day-and-age, one would think that one of the more advanced combat systems in existence would make use of things like secure video feed, real-time transmission of flight information and the like. Lockheed Martin says that such advances will probably appear some time before 2013.

Source: Gizmodo
This LED flashlight packs a nasty surprise; 800,000 volts of nerve-melting excitement. At $35(US) it might be the only personal defense item that not only lights your way on a dark night, but can deal with those that lurk in the darkness.

Source: Gizmodo
Pulled from CNN's list of the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, the I-Tattoo was mock tattoo kit for kids which included tattoo stickers and vibrating "ink pen"so that you, too, could pretend to be a tattoo artist. Infections not included.
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Source: Coolest Gadgets
This device mounts high on the window and, in the event of an accident, maintains a record of the car's current speed, rate of acceleration, and a video of the last few seconds prior to detecting an impact... assuming the back box doesn't become a flying projectile of its own. The memory is continuously reused as it operates.

Source: Engadget
This annoying little device is powered by ambient light, and hums various tunes throughout the day. Just to add to the fun, it tweets occasionally when it senses motion.

Source: Engadget
These robot dogs are capable of interacting with their owner, eventually learning up to 650 words. Apparently they also sing karaoke. And here I though they were house-broken.

Source: Gizmodo
This High-Definition camcorder can generate video at 1920x1080 and measures just 1.5 inches by 3 inches. Expect to see these things showing up anywhere an extreme sport enthusiast wants you to "be there" with them.

Source: Gizmodo
This device is designed to let soldiers know, silently, what the people behind them are trying to tell them (things like, sniper up ahead). The vest can create 15 distinctive patterns as a tactile display on a soldier's back. And in a situation where betraying your position could be a life-or-death matter, silent communication is a good thing.
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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: Engadget
Dennis Ebbets of Bell Aerospace has proposed to the American Astronomical Society that a fleet of small robotic probes be sent to investigate nearby asteroids. What makes the plan interesting is that he suggests putting explosives in these robots so that if the asteroid is determined to be at risk of hitting the earth it can be detonated to, hopefully, move the asteroid off-course. The explosion would also serve to release material from below the surface which can then be analyzed.

Source: Gizmodo
A-Data is soon to release, at 128-Gb, the largest solid-state drive on the market. No word on price yet.

Source: Gizmodo
Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency (they have one of those? In a country/city the size of Toronto?) has issued a $1 million Singapore dollar ($600,00US) prize for the best street-fighting robot warrior. There are a list of minimum requirements that exclude all but the most advanced robot systems. Now the theme song from Mortal Combat is playing in my head.

Source: Gizmodo
I posted earlier on the Venom anti-land mine system that uses a cloud of high-speed projectiles to detonate land mines. I just had to post this photo that demonstrates the darts being released. Imagine if someone decided to turn that into an anti-personnel weapon. Defence Tech has additional details.

Source: Gizmodo
The Capoco is a proof-of-concept of a driverless bus system that uses a combination of satellite navigation and magnetic markers in the road to follow a route. The prototype is due to be completed next. No word on how the plan to avoid hitting all those people that insist on walking in front of moving vehicles.
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Source: SPACE.com
The US military has been testing what they refer to as an active denial system for "safely" dispursing crowds. It consists of a beam of millimetre length electromagnetic waves that penetrate less than 1/64 of an inch into skin. The effect is to active pain sensors in the skin as they heat, causing the person to feel as if they are on fire (which, technically is true, given that the nerves are actually being heated). Experiments have been underway for quite some time (since prior to 2003), the most recent and public being a demonstration of how if forces a crowd of soldiers to disperse. Earlier experiments consisted of a series of 14 tests on humans that examine things like the effects of alcohol intoxication on people subjected to this beam and the effectiveness of sunblock. The system is expected to be in use by 2010. (Thanks to [profile] ancalagon_tb for reminding me to post this)

Source: BBC News
Speaking of experimental crowd-control weapons, the US military is exploring the idea of creating a polymer-based artificial black ice, what they refer to as a Mobility Control System. They are looking for a material that can be sprayed into an area, dry quickly, and be cleaned up easily. Plans include using a "reversal agent" on boots and tyres so that "friendly" forces will not be slowed.

Source: Coolest Gadgets
This personal hovercraft will whizz you along at a blistering 15 mph (ok, maybe not blistering, more like lukewarm). Yours for only $15,000(US).

Source: Coolest Gadgets
Yet another example of our disposable society. These biodegradable cotton underpants are meant to be discarded after use.

Source: Coolest Gadgets
Strange though this looks, this device uses the heat of your break to warm your inbreaths, as well as your face and neck.

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