Apr 30, 2012

Billionaire To Build Full-Sized Replica Of the Titanic

Just a few weeks after the 100th anniversaryof the Titanic's only voyage, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has commissioned a Chinese shipyard to build a historically accurate replica of the colossal boat.

In addition to the Chinese builder, Palmer has hired a historical research team to mind all the details of recreating the nine-deck, 840-room cruise ship. The Daily Mail reports that like the original, Titanic II will have four towering smokestacks, but this time around they'll be entirely cosmetic. Instead of coal, Titanic II will be powered by diesel engines. Palmer says the ship will have gyms, spas and all the amenities people expect from luxury cruise ships. It'll also be outfitted with "21st-century technology"—presumably so that it doesn't sink on its 2016 maiden voyage.

At this time, Palmer says he has no idea how much the project will cost. We're taking bets on whether the bill will cost more than the political campaign Palmer also just announced. Yes,Titanic II Is obviously a stunt designed to promote Palmer's political career. But if you're going to spend a lot of money to get elected, you might as well build something huge and awesome. More here.

Does Chewing Gum Make You Dumb?

If you thought that chewing gum helped you concentrate, it might be time to reassess. While some old research has suggested that it can help you with abstract reasoning and logic puzzles, new research reveals that it can completely screw up your short-term memory.

The new study, carried out at the University of Cardiff in the UK, pitted participants against classic short-term memory challenges, with and without gum. The tests had the volunteers attempt to recall lists of words and numbers in the order they were seen or heard, and also had them identify missing items from lists after they had been read out.

The researchers found that chewing seems to impair our ability to recall items in the correct order, and also makes us worse at suggesting missing items from a memorized list. While in the past researchers have suggested that chewing promotes blood flow to the brain, in turn improving cognitive function, the researchers from Cardiff have a different theory.

They suggest that the periodic action that is chewing gets in the way of repetitious cognitive tasks. If you try and memorize a phone number while tapping your finger, you'll find it much harder than if you're not tapping—and they suggest the exact same thing is true of chewing. In fact, they even performed an experiment along those lines, and found that both tapping and chewing gum had similar results on short-term memory.

This flies in the face of some previous studies, which have suggested that chewing gum canimprove your ability to reason through complex problems and solve logic puzzles.

But there's a fundamental difference between these two cognitive processes: memorizing and accessing lists from short-term memory uses completely different processes and parts of the brain to logic and abstract reasoning. Logic is handled primarily by the neocortex, while short-term memory is dealt with all the way over in the pre-frontal lobe. Perhaps most interesting, though, is that the most recent studies have shown that any improvement only lasts for 20 minutes at best, anyway.

What this all means for your future chewing is difficult to say with certainty. If you use your short-term memory a lot at work, it might pay to kick the habit. If you're thinking through abstract concepts all day long though, the occasional quick chew might give you the boost you need. More here.

Forget Graphene, Silicene Is Here to Blow Your Mind

Remember how graphene, the single-atom thick layer of carbon was so slick it was going to change everything? Well it looks likesilicene is here to steal the spotlight. Researchers have just made the first sheet of single-atom thick silicon.

Silicene has been a work in progress for years, but they think they've finally got it down now, and it represents a tremendous breakthrough. Graphene is awesome, but it's proven a bit tricky to work it into components. Because silicene is made of silicon, which most chips are already made of, the integration process could be much simpler.

Patrick Vogt of Berlin's Technical University in Germany, along side researchers at Aix-Marseille University in France managed to create silicene by condensing silicon vapor onto a silver plate to form a single layer of atoms. They then tested the sheet and found that it closely matched the properties silicene was theorized to exhibit. The next (challenging) step will be to grow silicene on insulating substrates so that it can be fully tested and evaluated for potential future uses in electronics. More here.

Apr 29, 2012

Siri Will Cause Your iPhone 5 to Self-Destruct

Hey there, future person, you've misplaced your iPhone 5. Some nefarious person is trying to break in and steal all of your naked pictures. Not to worry, you've programed Siri to self-destruct Mission Impossible-style after three incorrect login attempts. Boom.

I just feel bad for the guy that thigh-dials three wrong logins in his pants pocket.

Hate Itchy Mosquito Bites? Building Up an Immunity Only Requires About 15,000 Bites Per Year

Meet Steve Schutz. Some might say he's very dedicated to his work. But others would call him downright crazy. You see Steve works in an insectarium, a place where mosquitos are born and raised. And to ensure its residents are well-fed and propagate, he serves up his bare armonce a week for dinner.

As a result, after a feeding the 50 red welts on his lower arm barely even register as a slight tingle since Steve has built up an immunity to the mosquito's saliva. Over the past 12 years he's been bitten over 150,000 times, since the warm fresh blood is basically what the insects feed on out in the wild. And it's just a heck of a lot easier than preparing 50 tiny insect-sized baby bottles full of blood. But it's all in the name of science, since the lab where Steve works studies the effects of pesticides on the bugs, to test if, and how quickly, they become resistant.

Apr 28, 2012

Temperature Sensitive Rug Changes Colors To Match the Seasons

When you decorate a room you're stuck with a single color palette all year round that doesn't necessarily reflect the changing seasons outside. So maybe we should look toSiren Elise Wilhelmsen's color-changing rugfor inspiration on designing a room that reflects, or contrasts, the temperatures outside.

Wilhelmsen refers to her Season Carpet as a "soft thermometer" and it's made from 100-percent wool dyed with special heat-sensitive pigments that change color depending on the ambient temperature. The rug is actually made up of three different colors that all shift their hues at different temperature ranges, so the pattern should actually be fairly unique as it transitions throughout the year. Unless your home's thermostat always maintains the perfect temperature indoors. In that case the rug's not going to put on a show for you. More here.

Samsung Overtakes Nokia as the World’s Biggest Phone Manufacturer

Samsung has just toppled Nokia's 14-year run as the world's biggest vendor of mobile phones in terms of shipments. In the first quarter of 2012 Samsung shipped 93.5 million handsets—36 per cent more than a year earlier—overtaking the Finnish phone giant who shipped a mere 82.7 million.

Bloomberg reports that it's Samsung's smartphones that have driven its sales, as it shipped a massive 44.5 million of the things in the first three months of the year. By way of comparison, Apple shipped 35.1 million units in the first quarter.

Nokia has been the world's biggest seller of mobile phone since 1998, a title which it snatched from Motorola. Remember those days, Moto? More here.

Keep Your Files Safe With Voice-Authenticating USB Drive

There are some sensitive documents that you want to ensure don't fall into the wrong hands, such as contracts or financial records. This voice-authenticating USB drive($50) will ensure no one's snooping into your sensitive stuff.

It looks just like a regular thumb drive, but using voice-recognition technology, it will only grant access to a password spoken by the owner. There's no installation required. Once you plug it in, it speak the password, and once it's authenticated you can start stashing your files. In the event you space on your password, it provides steps for you to reset. Get is here.

Apr 27, 2012

You Can Buy This $195 Million US Navy Stealth Ship for Just $100,000

If I had $100,000 handy, I would bid for theSea Shadow, the stealth ship that DARPA built for the US Navy in 1983. It's now for sale at GSA Auctions. The original price tag: the US Government paid $195 million to Lockheed Martin to build it. And you get a HMB-1 Mining Barge too in the package too.
Needless to say, this ship would be perfect is you want to be a superhero or a supervillain.

The price will keep going up, for sure. It started at $50,000. But it will not get anywhere its original price tag. The reason: the US Government doesn't want you to keep it in its original form. If you want to buy it, you will have to destroy it! It has to be converted into scrap. More here.

The Perfect Fashion Statement for Photographers

If you're stuck for a gift for your closest camera-lover, look no further. These bracelets are custom-made from old camera lenses, providing a one-off piece of jewelery that any photography nerd is bound to love.

Made by Craig Arnold in South Australia, each one is different, in no small part because they display the wear-and-tear suffered by the lenses when they were in active service. He even makes some sterling silver replicas of old camera parts—like lenses and aperture rings—to complement them.

Such a statement doesn't come cheap, however: the bracelets all cost upwards of $200. Maybe you could try and make your own instead? More here.

Apr 26, 2012

Wipe Your Hard Drive DoD-Clean

You can reformat and overwrite that old hard drive as many times as you want before junking it—modern forensics software can still extract data from it. The Drive eRazer Ultra, however, can expunge your sensitive data to DoD specifications.

The Drive eRazer Ultra by Wiebetech is a standalone device for securely erasing hard drive data. It works natively with SATA and IDE/PAT drives, clearing them by overwriting every bit with a 0—there's simply nothing left to recover from the plate.

The process is relatively speedy, averaging about 7GB/min for newer drives. Its Secure Erase mode—one of many available, including user-generated programs—eliminates data left at the end of partly overwritten blocks, directories, partitions, and Host Protected Areas. And unlike, say a degaussing machine or a comically-large magnet, the drive remains usable afterwards. More here.

These Magnetic Bike Lights Look Super Sleek

Bike lights are massively important if you're cycling anywhere after sunset, but attaching them to your bike is a pain in the ass. These lights could be the perfect solution—provided you ride a steel-framed bike.

Designed by Copenhagen Parts, they're made of machined aluminium and have a magnet on the rear. There's no on/off button: when you plop the light onto the frame, it immediately switches on. That massively speeds up the process of getting lights on and off your bike. Lars Thomsen, one of the designers, explains:
"We had the idea some time ago and have spent the last 18 months getting them right. We now have them perfected and will soon be ready to launch this patented innovation."
In fact, the prototypes have been in testing for six months, during which times Copenhagen Parts have added magnets strong enough to keep the lights in place regardless of road service. Though they're not quite on sale just yet, they should be available later this year and you can pre-order now. More here. 

Apr 25, 2012

Carbon Fiber Bookshelves Are Novel Objects of Lust

You don't see it used in furniture very often, but Davide Anzalone's Aliante bookshelf, which took the top prize at Olympus RFP's2012 Carbon Fiber Design Contest, makes a strong case for using carbon fiber everywhere.

Looking like it could serve alongside the stealth fighter in the U.S. Air Force, you can actually fill the shelf's outstretched tipped wings all the way to the ends without them sagging. And let's not forget that when it comes time to move you could easily strap this thing to your back and barely feel the added weight. If only such a creation didn't come with a price tag that would require you to mortgage your new home. More here.

Safety Pin Flash Drive

Art Lebedev's studio is best known for its flashy glowing Optimus keyboards, but the firm dabbles in other clever designs too. Like merging a USB flash drive with a safety pin creating four gigs of storage you're unlikely to lose.

There's no word on whether or not the Bulavkus flash drive concept will ever actually be available for sale, but Lebedev's studio has certainly put more elaborate creations into production. So there's hope that you might actually be able to get your hands on one someday, and keep your files as secure as a pair of mittens tethered to a child's coat sleeve. More here.

Pointed Puppets to Spear Your Snacks

A company by the name of Fred and Friends has come out with possibly the most pointless product of our time. Food Fingers—the "FingerPickin Cocktail Picks"—are multicolored plastic caps that fit over your finger and end in a tiny three-pronged food spear. They seem almost like a good idea, for party platters and such, until you realize you'll still be eating with your slobbery hands, only they'll be hands covered in slobbery rainbow plastic. More here.

Apr 24, 2012

An Electric Beach Cruiser for the Supremely Lazy

Maybe this would be an acceptable form of transport for the likes of Marlon Brando or Alfred Hitchcock, but for anybody else it simply declares, "Hello world! I'm too lazy to pedal or balance!" At least it's only three grand.

The Beachcombing Electric Tricycle, besides being embarrassing to say out loud, by Hammacher Schlemmer is exactly what it sounds like—a beach cruising chimera with an added wheel and 20 MPH 350-watt motor. The Li-Ion battery can haul you for up to 30 miles of shame as long as you weigh less than 250 pounds. If so, the onboard storage can stow your "groceries, gym bag," or pride. It's even got a lower back rest for some reason. It retails for $3000 from the HS website. More here.

Microsoft Is Losing Mobile Subscribers Faster Than It Can Gain Them

When you run the numbers on Microsoft's mobile platform, it doesn't look good. Despite the debut of Windows Phone 7 about a year and a half ago, the company is losing mobile users faster than it can add them.

For a three month period ending in February, Microsoft nabbed a paltry 3.9 percent of the market, slipping 1.3 percentage points from November and 3.8 points from a year ago, the latest figures from comScore show. Redmond currently lags far behind even BlackBerry, which has been dealing with massive problems of its own, and snagged 13.4 percent of the space in February.

Microsoft's platform has been on a free fall since the end of 2007, the year Apple just about started digging graves for these second-tier platforms by introducing the iPhone. At that point, Microsoft still controlled 36 percent, according to comScore, but by the end of 2009, that figure had been slashed in half to 18 percent.

For the record, Apple and Google are sitting pretty, currently speaking for 30.1 and 50.1 percent of the OS share respectively.

So what, if anything, can Microsoft do to get it back? Or at least, can it stop losing ground? It's banking pretty hard on the new Nokia Lumia 900, and at $100 (with a new contract), the pretty little device is not a bad gadget to bet on. While it's a step in the right direction, Microsoft is on a downward trajectory, and it needs to do something drastic to get people interested in its OS. More here.

Apr 23, 2012

Bottle Opener + Sunglasses = Beer Goggles?

Unless you're into the whole Oakley look, the Brewsees aren't the most stylish shades you can buy. But damned if they're not the most functional, with each arm ending in a working bottle opener. Now you might be thinking to yourself that there's no way a plastic pair of sunglasses could be used to open a bottle. 

And you'd be right. That's why the openers on the Brewsees are actually made from 6061 airplane grade anodized aluminum. For $30 they even arrive inside a Brewsee-themed bottle koozie, and should be just as effective when it comes to hiding your drunken bloodshot eyes. More here.

How to Unlock the iPhone 4S Right Now

Hacker Loktar_Sun has discovered how to easily unlock your iPhone 4S—and any other iPhone. The unlock will free you from your carrier's tyranny, which is great news, especially while traveling or switching companies.

You will only need a jailbroken iPhone, see here how to. The rest is painless:

IMPORTANT: Before starting, make sure to have the latest iTunes. This process should be painless and easy but, like with every other unlock, proceed at your own risk.

Step 1

Go to Cydia and add as one of your app repositories. Search for Sam Bingner's SAM package and install it.

Step 2

Click on SAMPrefs icon.

Step 3

Go to utilities. Select De-Activate iPhone. Make sure your iPhone is deactivated under More Information.

Step 4

Click on By Country and Carrier in Method. Then select your carrier.

Step 5

Click on More Information again. Copy your IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) in SAM Details.

Step 6

Click on Spoof Real SIM to SAM.

Step 7

Go to the main SAM menu and change the Method to manual. Paste the IMSI in the field.

Step 8

Connect the iPhone to iTunes. It will reactivate your iPhone.

Step 9

Disconnect your iPhone when done and quit iTunes.

Step 10

Disable SAM in the SAMPrefs app.

Step 11

Connect your iPhone to the computer. iTunes will start up and tell you it can't activate the iPhone.

Step 12

Close iTunes and open it again.

Step 13

This time, iTunes will activate your iPhone and it will be unlocked! You will be able to turn off your phone and do whatever you want. The unlock will keep working, at least until Apple releases its usual countermeasures in a firmware update.

If your push notifications stop working, go to SAM again and click on Clear Push then connect to iTunes again. More here.

Skype For Windows Phone Is Now Official

It was a long time coming, but back in February Skype made it onto Windows Phone in beta. Now, testing is over, and you can get your hands on the full, official version from the WinPho Marketplace.

Unlike the beta, the app would work best with particular phones, no such caveats seem to have been put forward for this official release. As ever, the charms of video and voice calls over WiFi or 3G are hard to turn down—so cheap!—and it looks slick enough on WinPho, too. You can download the app here.

Apr 22, 2012

3DS Firmware Update Promises Folders, Less Cluttered Home Screens on April 25th

Are all those ambassador games crowding your 3DS' home screen? Sit tight, Nintendo's got a fix. During the outfit's Nintendo Direct conference livestream, head honcho Satoru Iwata announced that folder organization is coming to the 3DS. Fastidiously organized gamers can expect the firmware update to land on April 25th, bringing with it the joy of creating directories, stuffing them with up to 60 items and ascribing them fitting names. Iwata also detailed a handful of upcoming titles, including New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Tobidase Doubutsu no Mori (or, "Leap out Animal Crossing") for the 3DS and a Kirby compilation for the Wii. More here.

Apr 21, 2012

Hydraulics Let This Lightweight Roof Automatically Adapt To Changing Stresses

Engineers design structures to withstand the maximum possible stress loads. But building with the worst-case-scenario in mind can be expensive. So researchers at the University of Stuttgart created the SmartShell which is designed to be a more affordable building technique that doesn't sacrifice safety.

The lightweight shell is just 1.6-inches thick, but it's able to withstand tremendous forces thanks to hydraulic pistons located at three of its four corners. Thanks to an array of built-in sensors, as stresses on the shell change, like from the wind changing direction, the pistons instantly adjust its shape so the stress load is evenly distributed over its entire structure.

Eventually the technology could be applied to something like the roof of a large stadium. Allowing it to be lighter and cheaper to build, but just as strong since the added stresses of wind, rain, or even snow could be automatically minimized, instead of the whole structure just collapsing. More here.

RedSn0w Updated for Mac and Windows: Adds Corona A5 Jailbreak, Other Tools

What better way to finish off your night than by updating your favorite jailbreaking tool? Now, you'll be able to do just that after the whiz-kids from the iPhone Dev-Team have pushed out a new copy of their famed RedSn0w application. In what's perhaps the biggest inclusion, version 0.9.10b7 now adds implementation of that untethered Corona jailbreak for A5 devices, making it easier for the iOS 5.0.1crowd to do bits like reinstalling the tweaked software. 

In addition, the app's now capable of grabbing SHSH blobs (you know, those tiny files that grant your phone freedom) straight from Cydia, while also giving users the ability to see if their slab carries a vulnerable bootloader or if it's exploitable. RedSn0w 0.9.10b7 is out now for both Windows and Mac, and you can grab it here.

Apr 20, 2012

Google Patent Application Keeps Track of Your Moves to Automate Mobile Actions

A shimmy and a shake could be all it takes to launch apps in the future, that's if this latest patent application ever pans out. Filed back in October of 2011, the folks over at Google are looking to make accelerometers useful for more than just screen orientation. According to the claims, after a training phase where in this hypothetical program would associate specific application launches with geographic location data, your Pavlovian smartphone could then automate workflows and effectively anticipate your needs. 

Essentially, you'd have a mobile device that would know what to run wherever you were, hinging upon how you hold it. At least, that's the schematic covered in this USPTO document. Will it ever see the light of day? Hard to tell. Mountain View's just a-brimming with those 20 percent time projects. More here.

YouTube Wants More Videos to Have Background Music, Adds Audio Editor

Need something to fill in the awkward silence between your vlog's unscripted stuttering? YouTube's got your back. In yet another attempt to make your crummy videos just a little better, the streaming outfit has revamped its audio editing suite, giving users access to over 150,000 tracks and a simple sound mixer, to boot. Sure, YouTube's tracks may not be as catchy as your favorite Flaming Lips single, but at least you won't have to worry about copyright infringement.

Apr 19, 2012

Microsoft reveals the fourth version of Windows 8: Enterprise

As detailed in an official blog post, the new unique feature in Windows 8 Enterprise is Windows To Go, which is Windows on a stick. Basically it allows you to run your corporate image on a home PC or other personal devices -- the opposite of that USB disk you carry to work with portable versions of your favorite unsanctioned apps. 

Also new is the ability to automatically sideload internal Metro apps as well as enhancements to the virtual desktop client. Of course Windows 7 Enterprise features like DirectAccess, BranchCache and AppLocker are still there, but some features like BitLocker are now available in the Pro version of Windows 8 too. 

If you were thinking you might like these at home, don't forget that Enterprise is only sold with Software Assurance (Microsoft's perpetual upgrade program), but that does bring extra abilities too, like a free Virtual Desktop Access license -- you didn't think you got that for free did you -- and the optional Companion Device license that extends your VDI and Windows To Go rights to four more personal devices. 

Now, if it just included the ability to boot directly to the desktop, then most corporation's biggest concern with Windows 8 would be appeased. More here.

Electrons Can Split Into Two

Until now, electrons have been regarded as elementary particles—which means that scientists thought they had no component parts or substructure. But now, electrons have been observed decaying into two separate parts—causing physicists to rethink what they know about the particles.

The electrons split into two separate parts, each carrying a particular property of the electron. In layman's terms? The first, called a "spinon" carries its spin—which causes electrons to behave a bit like compass point. The second, called an "orbiton" carries its orbital moment—that's what keeps electrons moving around the nucleus of atoms. The result is reported in this week's issue of Nature. Jeroen van den Brink, one of the researchers, explains:
"It had been known for some time that, in particular materials, an electron can inprinciple be split, but until now the empirical evidence for this separation into independent spinons and orbitons was lacking. Now that we know where exactly to look for them, we are bound to find these new particles in many more materials."
The observations were made in the copper-oxide compound Sr2CuO3, a material peculiar because the particles in it are constrained to move only in one direction, either forwards or backwards. The electron-splitting was measured using X-rays to measure the energy and momentum of particles in the material.

Though the electrons can split, the resulting two parts can't escape the material in which they are produced. Regardless of that, the finding should transform our understanding of superconductivity—and could even eventually make high-temperature superconductivity a real possibility. More here.

Apr 18, 2012

How We Identify Single Voices in a Crowd

There are plenty of human abilities that we take for granted, but which are actually insanely complex. Like picking out a single voice buried amongst the noise of a crowded environment, a problem which has troubled scientists for decades. But now they've worked out how we do it—and it could revolutionize speech recognition technology.

The phenomenon—sometimes called the cocktail party effect—allows us to pick out the voice of somebody when all around us is noise. Now, a team of scientists from the University of California, San Francisco has performed experiments on patients undergoing brain surgery to discover how that works. The findings appear in this week's issue of Nature.

During the surgeries, a thin sheet of 256 electrodes was applied to the temporal lobe—the auditory cortex of the brain—of the participants in order to record neuronal activity. Post-surgery, patients were played audio tracks with multiple voices, and asked to identify the words uttered by particular speakers while their brain activity was monitored.

The researchers then used software to reconstruct the brain's activity and assess how it varied when the patients were listening out for different speakers. Amazingly, the neural cortex only seems to respond to a single voice at a time when we're concentrating on making it out, effectively shutting out the rest of the acoustic environment which surrounds us. In other words, selective hearing is very much real—we only hear what we want or need to.

While it's a neat insight, the researchers are also hopeful that it could be a useful tool in assessing hearing impairment and attention deficit disorder. Not just that, they also hope to develop devices for decoding the intentions and thoughts from paralyzed patients that cannot communicate.

And then there's one last, and potentially very lucrative, application: voice recognition. One of the major stumbling blocks with Siri and its brethren is their inability to cope in noisy environments. If scientists can get to the bottom of how the temporal lobe itself filters out extraneous noise, consumer technology could make a huge leap forwards. More here.

This Is How the Tupac Hologram That Wasn’t Really a Hologram Worked

We already knew that the Tupac Hologram wasn't really a hologram but actually just a modern regurgitation of the old mid-19th century trick known as "Pepper's Ghost". If you were confused on how that illusion worked, be confused no more! Here it is.

Roxanne Palmer at the International Business TImes made this infographic that clearly illustrated how the whole hologram shenanigans worked. AV Concepts, the company behind the fauxlogram, used Musion Systems Ltd.'s Musion Eyeliner setup to project a 2D animated Tupac onto an invisible (to the audience) screen to make him look 3D. More here.

Why Friday the 13th Is So Unlucky

The origins of Friggatriskaidekaphobia (the fear of Friday the 13th) are a little muddled, but it's often associated with two ideas: that thirteen is an unlucky number, and that Friday is an unlucky day.

In numerology, the number twelve is favored for its association with completeness: twelves months in a year, twelve hours on a clock, twelve Apostles, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve gods of Olympus, etc. Thirteen, then, is the perversion of this perfect completeness; twelve's a party, thirteen a crowd. Some believe that seating thirteen people at a table will result in the death of one, a superstition inspired by both The Last Supper and an old Norse myth.

But why Friday? Bad end-of-week vibes can be traced back to as early as the 14th century, in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Stock market crashes and other disasters, since the 1800s, have been associated with Black Friday, and many believe it is inauspicious to begin projects, embark on journeys, or release products on––you guessed it!––Friday.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia affects an estimated 17-21 million people in the US, of which many are to scared to travel on planes, go to work, or even get out of bed. Either that, or it's just as good an excuse as any to play hooky.

Apr 17, 2012

Oakley Is Making Its Own Google Glasses

As dorky as you'll look wearing Google Glasses, the idea of augmented reality specs is dripping with potential awesomeness (and guaranteed hilarity). So it's not a surprise that Oakley, sunglass king, is working on its own Google Glasses competitor. Maybe they won't be as ugly as Google's?

If you're wearing glasses, it's a good idea to get the lenses right, right? This could work! Oakley told Bloomberg:
As an organization, we've been chasing this beast since 1997. Ultimately, everything happens through your eyes, and the closer we can bring it to your eyes, the quicker the consumer is going to adopt the platform.
The beast being Oakley's "heads-up" technology which puts smartphone features into glasses. According to Bloomberg, the glasses will function on its own while also working with a smartphone. The whole system might be controlled with Siri-like voice commands and is currently targeted for athletes first and branch out later. More here.

Prize Winning LED Lightbulb to Arrive Just in Time for Earth Day

Philips, the Netherlands-based lightbulb manufacturer who won a 2007 congressional contest to create an energy-saving replacement for the incandescent 60-watt bulb, plans to start selling their LED bulb (the "L bulb") in stores just in time for Earth Day, this Sunday.

It will retail for $60 at stores like Home Depot, with an instant $10 rebate to consumers, bringing the cost down to $50 for 30,000 hours of LED light. If used for four hours per day, that works out to 20 years of light! More here.

Apr 16, 2012

Magnetic Super-Paper Can Shrug Off Water and Bacteria

Without changing its physical or functional properties, researchers at Italy's Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia have created the superhero of papers that's waterproof, antibacterial, and magnetic. Which will completely revolutionize how your kids can stick their artwork to the fridge.

The secret lies with a special mixture of individual molecules, or monomers, in paper fiber and the future of seemingly all technologies—nanoparticles. The resulting compound, known as a polymetric matrix, is actually made with different types of nanoparticles, and when applied to regular paper it completely covers the fibers on the microscopic level, creating a protective shell.

When iron oxide nanoparticles are added to the mix, the resulting paper has magnetic properties. And when silver nanoparticles are added, the paper fights off bacteria and other microscopic organisms. The paper can even be turned fluorescent using the right particles, and is completely waterproof making it ideal for high security applications like bank notes, or for printing long-lasting historical documents. More here.

Samsung To Unveil Galaxy S III on May 3rd

Finally, after much rumour and speculation, a "new Samsung Galaxy" is officially coming. It'll be showing its presumably pretty face on the 3rd of May in London at a "Samsung Mobile Unpacked" event—if that doesn't scream Galaxy S III I don't know what does.

The event invite is a bit vague, of course; there's no mention of the Galaxy S III specifically, just a "come and meet the next Galaxy" strap line. There aren't many other Galaxy models Samsung would use an evening event in London to launch, apart from a flagship device.

If it's launching on May 3rd, we could expect it to hit the shops pretty soon after. It looks like those rumours of a late April launch weren't all that far off after all. More here.

Apr 15, 2012

Where Were You Hundreds Of Birthdays and Christmases Ago Tape Scissors?

It's obvious why these brilliant scissors with a built-in tape dispenser aren't available in every office supply store in the country. They want you to have to buy both products separately—increasing the store's profits while you sit at home fumbling your way through another botched attempt at wrapping gifts.

It's a bigger crime against consumers than Apple's alleged e-book price fixing. So just go buy a pair for $10 and be thankful the next time you need to wrap a present. And remember, sometimes you have to lose the occasional battle to win the war. More here.

Tiny Pies Are the Greatest Thing To Ever Be Jammed On a Stick

Candy apples? Your days are numbered. There's a new candidate for greatest treat-on-a-stick that doesn't try to sneak fresh fruit in with our calorie-laden snacks—the Babycakes Pie Pop maker.

You might want to sit a spell while your mind grapples what this machine is capable of, and what it can bring to your life. Namely, miniature pies you can eat off a stick. No plates, no forks, no napkins needed. In four minutes you can bake up six adorably miniature pies filled with whatever you want. Apples, cherries, or what the heck, even other smaller pies. It's obviously the best $25 investment you'll ever make. More here.

Take Notes While Saving Your iPhone’s Battery With This Nostalgic Case

Before touchscreens and tablets came along, Magna Doodle was the easiest way for a kid to draw without a pencil and paper. Which is why somewhere deep down we have a soft spot for what is otherwise a ridiculous iPhone case.

Its creators aren't trying to pull a fast one either. They realize the practical applications of this case are non-existant, and have dubbed it the iFoolish with hopes there's enough '80s nostalgia still in the world to bolster sales. And with a price tag of just $25 and an adorable mini magnetic stylus included. More here.

Apr 14, 2012

Heavily Armored iPhone Case Can Stop A .50 Caliber Round

It might add almost five pounds to the weight of your phone, but this armored iPhone case with one-inch of thick steel plating on the back is promised to stop a .50 caliber round. So what you're really paying $650 for is peace of mind.

Unfortunately you'll want to make sure any snipers are targeting the back of your phone when it's entombed in this case, because the front leaves your display exposed and is only protected by a thin aluminum facade. And even though the back is highly protected, there's still a hole bored out for the camera lens which means a particularly talented marksman could still take out your iPhone with a well placed shot. More here.

Thunderbolt Might Transfer to Windows by May

Ultra-fast, Apple-only Thunderbolt technology is about to get a little less exclusive. According to CNet reports, LaCie plans to unveil PC compatibility for the10gb/s Thunderbolt during the upcoming NAB 2012 trade show.

Reportedly, LaCie will debut PC-compatible versions of the Little Big Disk SSD and the 2big Thunderbolt mass storage devices. LaCie has recently helped to create the Thunderbolt Standard, which governs devices' interactions with the cables, which "can transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds," according to Intel. Intel has reportedly already begun shipping its latest iteration of Thunderbolt controllers and is planning to roll out Cactus Ridge, a Windows-compatible Thunderbolt chip, when Ivy Bridge debuts in two weeks. More here and here.

Apr 13, 2012

Future Internets Will Be Powered by Quantum Particles

Like quantum physics? What about quantum computers? Or quantum computers in a diamond? Then you should know that researchers at the Max Planck Institute have appropriately devised a way to create a quantum network in which a photon is exchanged between two atoms. Future!

According to Time, the two atoms transmit the photon over a 60 meter fiber optic cable and is said to be the first to send, receive and store information without failure. More here.
Professor Ignacio Cirac, a director at MPQ, proposed the framework for the experiment. In his team's quantum network, individual rubidium atoms were lodged between two highly reflective mirrors placed less than a millimeter apart - a setup referred to as an "optical cavity." The team then fired a laser at one of the atoms, calibrated so as not to disturb it and instead cause it to emit a photon, which then traversed the 60-meter fiberoptic cable to be absorbed by the second atom, transferring the first atom's quantum information.

Solar Panel-In-a-Tube Generates Power and Hot Water At the Same Time

Solar photovoltaic cells and solar thermal collectors both capture the sun's rays. The first one turns the light into electricity, while the other turns it into hot water for heating. They usually battle for rooftop real estate, but Naked Energy has found a way to merge them both into a single solar solution.

The British company's Virtu tubes gain efficiency by operating in tandem—it's teamwork, just like you learned as a kid. Inside each vacuum-sealed tube is a power-producing photovoltaic wafer. Sunlight hitting the wafer generates extra heat, which then transfers to the tube's solar thermal collector using the company's patented thermosyphon technology.

The transfer keeps the photovoltaic cells close to their optimal operating temperature, with the shared benefit of a hot water supply that can be used to help heat a building on the cheap. In other words, the hybrid design makes a Virtu up to 46 percent more efficient at turning sunlight into energy than traditional solar panels.

At the moment, Naked Energy is still refining and improving the product's design. Developers are working with professors at the Imperial College in London to further increase their efficiency. The company intends to create a commercially available product once it's happy with the solar cell's performance. More here.

Apr 12, 2012

Don’t Forget To Pack This Highly-Detailed Moon Globe For Your Next Lunar Vacation

Space tourism is just getting under way, but before we know it spending a weekend on the moon will be commonplace. (If you have a kabillion dollars.) So in addition to warm socks, you'll want to make sure you pack Sky & Telescope's new detailed Moon Globe if you're planning to explore.

Previous moon globes have used airbrushed artistic renderings of the moon's surface, which aren't incredibly accurate. But Sky & Telescope used over 15,000 images snapped by Nasa's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter when creating the imagery for its new $100 globe.

Thanks to over 850 labels, you can also use the globe to easily find all the neat touristy locales, including craters, valleys, and even the Apollo landing sites. And remember, besides the globe you'll also want to pack your Visa card, because the moon doesn't take American Express. More here.

Lumia 900 Costs More to Build Than the iPhone 4S

The Lumia 900 is a hell of a phone. Plus, it's cheap: just $100 regularly, and temporarily FREE while Nokia works out some software issues. But it's not for lack of quality parts: iSuppli crunched the numbers and determined it costs $217 to build and manufacture. That's more than the iPhone.

For comparison's sake, the iPhone 4S's 16GB model costs an estimated $188 to build and retails for $200. The Lumia's component prices are about the same, but strangely, it shoots ahead with an expensive screen compared to the iPhone. The Lumia's screen is larger physically, but has a much lower pixel density than the iPhone's retina display.

Nokia—and its partner in crime Microsoft—desperately wants to get a foothold with the Lumia line of Windows Phones. That's why the Lumia 710 was just $50 on T-Mobile, and why the regular price for the 900 is just $100. Nokia's willing to subsidize hardware to gain market share. If this works, it'll be absolutely worth it. If not, well, that's a mighty big bill Nokia just stuck itself with. More here.

Apr 11, 2012

Google Chrome 19 Beta Brings Live Tab Synching to The Fold

You know the score. You've stepped away from your desktop, and then you think to yourself, "Damn. If only I could remember that website I'd just visited." Now, users of Google Chrome's latest beta will no longer have that worry. The latest incarnation of Google's web browser gives users immediate access to all of their tabs, across all devices, which can be found within the new tab window. 

Here, users will discover an "Other devices" menu that gives quick and easy access to all those sites you just visited -- yet for the life of you, can't seem to remember. According to Google, beta users will see this feature gradually roll out over the coming week. More here.

Ridiculous Sunglasses: Wear the U.S.A. on Your Face

In the shape of the contiguous United States, these shades by Jeremy Scott are perfect for the next haute couture stock car race you attend. And I mean, who needs two hundred bones for rent? Or food. Or utilities. Or just basic specs that sufficiently protect your eyes from the sun.

These frames, though? They cover a grand total of one and a half of your eyes, with the Great Lakes region really messing with UV protection on the left side. They also work well if you're trying to lose weight and/or are suffering from a cold, putting a guard over your entire nose and most of your mouth. More here.

Apr 10, 2012

A Coat Rack so Attractive, You Might Not Want to Hang a Coat on It at all

Having somewhere to hang a jacket when you walk in your front door is nice, but the problem with having a proper coat rack is that you end up with a critical mass of outerwear occupying your entryway. A very simple—but very nice-looking—piece like Florian Saul's Servus rack might just do the trick.

Consisting of a single loop of wood and a leather bag, the rack leans up against a wall, or as Minimalissimo explains, can be combined with a second Servus rack. A detachable leather bag, which can be used for scarves, gloves or anything else you so desire, adds a bit of substance, contrast and class to the frame. More here.

Why Woodpeckers Don’t Get Brain Damage From Pecking All Day

If a human tried chopping wood with his head, he'd lose at least one eye and sustain permanent brain damage. But woodpeckers do it all the live long day and sustain zero headular damage. How do they do it?

Theories have included: super powerful muscles, a special injury-preventing drilling technique, or a protective placement of the brain inside the skull. But no one has systematically analyzed the mechanics of a woodpecker's skull in as much detail as Fan Yubo and his team at the Key Laboratory for Biomechanics and Mechanobiology at Beihang University in China, who published their work today in Science China Press.

They spent three years studying the mechanical properties, microstructure and composition of the cranial bone and beak of the woodpecker, and compared it to that of the lark. They found that woodpeckers have developed their own amazing nanofabrication and self assembly capabilities in their cranial bone structure over millions of years of evolution.

The strength of the two types of birds' beaks is actually similar. But the woodpecker's cranial bone is much stronger than the lark's, the researchers found. That's thanks to having more "plate-like spongy bone" in its cranium, which makes it resistant to deformation. Specifically, it has a larger volume of structures called trabeculae, which are tiny spaces in the bone that form a mesh filled with bone marrow. The woodpecker's trabeculae are also spaced very close together, which helps diffuse impact. In the image, the woodpecker cranium bone is A; the lark's is B. C is the woodpecker's beak, D is the lark's.

The researchers hope their work might inspire new protective headgear for humans. More here.

Apr 9, 2012

How to Export Your Instagram Photos Before Facebook Ruins Everything

So Facebook's buying Instagram. That might not be such a bad thing, but if you're one of those who can't stand any Facebook in her Instagram Cheerios, there's a solution.Instaport.Me will let you export all your photos right now, to wherever you want.

The service is incredibly easy: All you do is go to the site, log into your Instagram account, and authorize the app. Then you can customize which photos to export: all, the last X-number, between two dates, photos others liked, and by #tag. That's it. Click export and your photos are downloaded in .zip format here it is.

War On Your Diet With a Chocolate Grenade

Easter is one of those magical days in the year when diets don't exist. So today, in addition to a mountain of other sweet confections, you can enjoy Raphael Volkmer's chocolate 'Calories Bomb' grenade that explodes with even more delicious shrapnel.

Just think of it as an uneasy truce with your diet, although when you step on the scale you might discover that one side's actually gained quite a bit of ground, more here.