May 31, 2013

Radiation Makes a Manned Trip to Mars Impossible with Current Tech

Though Curiosity the rover can explore and see Mars up close, curious men and women of Earth will have to wait a bit longer. NASA reports that a manned trip to Mars is likely impossible with current technology because of radiation.

Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) was able to measure the radiation of Mars from inside the spacecraft and found data that makes NASA reconsider the effectiveness of current radiation shielding. Specifically:
The findings, which are published in the May 31 edition of the journal Science, indicate radiation exposure for human explorers could exceed NASA's career limit for astronauts if current propulsion systems are used.
Two forms of radiation pose potential health risks to astronauts in deep space. One is galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), particles caused by supernova explosions and other high-energy events outside the solar system. The other is solar energetic particles (SEPs) associated with solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun.

Right now, spacecrafts do a better job at shielding against SEPs than they do GCRs. GCRs are highly energetic and penetrate the shielding on current spacecrafts. In order to protect astronauts from being exposed to radiation, NASA might have to invent better shielding. Or invent better something.

Exposure to radiation, which is measured in units of Sievert (Sv), increases the risk of cancer. We know that. Exposure to 1 Sv over time is associated with a five percent increase in risk of developing cancer. NASA's acceptable limit for its astronauts is a three percent increase in risk. Curiosity's RAD instruments measured an average of 1.8milliSv per day on its trip to Mars. The accumulated dose of the trip, according to Cary Zeitlin, lead paper in the findings and a principal scientist at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, would be equivalent to "getting a whole-body CT scan once every five or six days". Yeah, that's too much.

But knowing this doesn't prevent a manned trip to Mars from ever happening. Knowing this helps protect the men and women who will take that manned trip to Mars. More here.

May 30, 2013

Loop Tea Strainer Reduces Dirty Dishes in Your House

Multifunctional tools can help in reducing the amount of dirty dishes in your house, checkout this Loop Tea Strainer. This tool allows you to have smart tea preparation, no spoon is required and this stick-shaped tea strainer can be used as a scoop. Open the sliding mesh lid and fill with tea leaves, close it, and place it in the hot water in your tea cup.

Nowadays, we’ve been trying to reduce dirty dishes in any way, from eating directly from the container to using paper plate. This product is a smart way to serve a cup of tea. More here.

May 29, 2013

Clever Mug Catches Coffee Drips Before They Become Stains

Harnessing the complex hydrodynamic properties of surface tension, this brilliantly re-engineered mug features a strategically engineered reservoir running around the circumference of the vessel's outer wall. Or, in other words, designer Kim Keun Ae added a groove that cleverly catches drips before they hit the table.

Cleaning the mug takes a little extra effort to get that groove sparkling, but otherwise it's a simple innovation that goes a long way to improving the coffee experience, particularly if you hate coasters. And while you can't buy one just yet, it won't be terribly difficult for someone to implement this simple improvement. More here.

Leaked Windows 8.1 Screenshot: Oh, Hello, Start Button

Over on the Windows SuperSite, Thurott has dumped a few, choice screenshots from the upcoming, free update to the operating system. And chief among them is that one featuring everybody's favorite Start Button. It should go without saying that this button launches you to the Metro Modern UI Start Screen, and not into some sort of Start Menu, but the button's back. Interestingly, there seems to be no way to turn it off either. Not that you'd really want to.

Along with the start button, Thurrott's reporting that 8.1 also comes with a Boot To Desktop option (disabled by default) and the ability to use the desktop wallpaper of your choice as the background on the Start Screen.

And, of course, while this seems like a pretty credible leak, it's still a leak. But it's seeming more than ever like the real deal. More here.

May 28, 2013

Heatsink Coasters Cool Hot Beverages While Protecting Your Furniture

If they're good enough to keep temperatures under control inside your electronics, it only makes sense that a simple aluminum heatsink would be just as effective at taming a piping hot cup of coffee. Not to mention providing plenty of tiny channels for condensation to collect instead of dripping onto your furniture and leaving unsightly rings.

These Fin Coasters feature a thin cork underlay further protecting the surface of your tables from scratches and excess heat. And since this is a highly engineered way to deal with hot beverages, it only makes sense that a set of two—available in silver or black finishes—will set you back $65. A tad bit pricey, but your furniture will thank you for splurging. More here.

May 27, 2013

Finally, A Wrinkle Reducer That Is Also The Embodiment Of Evil

Our superficial, beauty-obsessed culture is pretty scary. People starve themselves or have serious surgeries so they can look a certain way. But for better or worse (definitely worse) we're all pretty used to hearing about those beauty interventions. Which is why it's unusual to see a new wrinkle-reducer and immediately want to shit your pants or run away. Or both. But behold.

The Facewaver Exercise Mask uses stretching and tightening action for "kneading out wrinkles, lines and sag." The site recommends you use it for five minutes a day to get younger-looking skin. The problem is that during those five minutes you will send anyone you encounter into cardiac arrest as a result of their general shock and terror. Or you yourself will be killed because people will assume that you are a zombie. And frankly, if you choose to wear this they won't be totally wrong.

Some products from the Japan Trend Shop can be very soothing, but this just isn't one of them. It's scary enough to see someone wearing one of those green face masks before bed or even just using a Shake Weight. When will the madness end? More here.

Fight Bad Breath and Bathroom Clutter With This Toothbrush Cup

Counter clutter can be even worse in a bathroom which is typically a lot smaller than a kitchen. And if you find yourself constantly battling to find room to store things around the sink, you'll immediately see the genius behind this flippable cup that doubles as a way to rinse your mouth and a convenient spot to store a toothbrush.

Available in a small selection of decor-friendly colors, the $11 Flip Cup also features a contoured rim that allows air to get in when flipped upside-down so it dries quickly preventing germs and bacteria from finding a home. So say goodbye to halitosis and goodbye to awkwardly trying to rinse your mouth directly from the faucet. More here.

May 26, 2013

Listen To Music Through Your Cheekbones While You Swim Laps

It's hard to listen to music while you're swimming because even waterproof earbuds that actually stay on try to conduct sound through air to reach your eardrums, and there's not a lot of air underwater. The FINIS Neptune works on this issue by sending sound waves straight into your face. Total bombardment. In a good way.

The Neptune speakers rest on your cheek and make the bone vibrate so that the vibrations can be relayed to your cochlea, allowing you to hear music. The process is called "bone conduction," and is also used by some marine mammals. Since the music is going straight into your head, you don't have to deal with anything in your ears while you're trying to swim.

The Neptune is an updated version of FINIS's years-old SwiMP3, which had 128MB of memory and sold for $180. Now at 4GB, the Neptune costs $160. A quick PSA, though: Just because you feel the music in your bones, does not mean you should engage in any type of swim-singing or swim-dancing unless you are totally sure no one is watching. More here.

May 25, 2013

A Working Apple I Computer Just Sold For $671,400 at Auction

The Apple 1 is a little piece of history, the first in a lineage that's taken the world by storm since its birth in 1976. And that piece of history is worth a lot. An anonymous collector just picked up a still functioning(!) one of the suckers at auction for a cool $671,400. And you thought gaming PCs were expensive.

The recent sale—which just closed today—beats out a record of $640,000 that was set in the same Cologne, Germany auction house just last year, and a record of $374,500 just a few months before that; these have got to be some of the few electronics that are going up in value as they age.

Not much is known about the purchaser except that he/she is "a wealthy entrepreneur from the Far East" according to the New York Times. I'll bet you wish you had that much cash to throw down on a seriously antiquated piece of hardware. And though it might be a bit of an increase over the machines initial $666.66 launch-price (some $2,700 in current-day dollars), it's priceless in its own way. But most of us would probably just be better off with an iPad. More here.

What's the First Thing You Can Remember Doing on the Internet?

There's no denying the global connectivity literally changed the world, and most of us are lucky enough to have been alive and conscious when that paradigm shift was rolling out. You might not remember your first real interaction with the digital behemoth, but you have to have a first recollection. What is it?

It's worth noting that the Internet and the World Wide Web are technically different things, and depending on what kind of person you are, you might have some distinctly different first memories of both. Either way, it's story time. Who's got a good one?

May 24, 2013

Tomorrow's Galactic Explorers Could Use Pulsars as Interstellar GPS

Space is so ludicrously vast that keeping a precise fix on our spacecraft—even within the solar system—is really tough. So rather than track them from afar, a team of researchers want spacecraft to govern themselves—using pulsars.

For every astronomical unit (AU) between the Earth and the craft, ground control loses 4km of tracking accuracy. That means we can only guess a satellite's location orbiting around Pluto, about 50 AU, within a radius of 200km. You're not going to catch an asteroid with that level of inaccuracy.

Instead, Werner Becker and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy have devised a method for spacecraft to triangulate their own positioning in space based on the relative locations of known pulsars—rapidly spinning neutron stars that emit blasts of high energy radiation in precise intervals. By measuring how long it takes for the emissions of at least three pulsars to reach the craft, compared against their predicted values, the spacecraft should be able to determine its location to within 5 km. This is essentially the same method used by cell towers and the global positioning system, but over massive distances.

There are many technical hurdles that must be overcome before this concept is actually feasible. For one, different pulsars emit radiation at different wavelengths, which can only be received by collecting dishes of a specific size. The 21cm waves that Becker's team is investigating would require an array measuring 150 square meters. This of course leads to the problem of designing and packing a sufficiently large—and, more importantly, sufficiently light—dish into the craft and successfully launching it into space. More here.

A Clever Plastic Brace Turns Long-Stemmed Flowers Into Their Own Vase

Florists around the country, pay attention. If you're looking for a value-added reason for people to buy a dozen roses from your shop, then find a way to get this brilliant Crown Vaseput into production and include one with every bouquet.

Designed by Lambert Rainville, a student at the Royal College of Art, the Crown Vase works as a support allowing flowers to stand via their own stems, like a simple shelter crafted by an experienced outdoors person. A shallow dish or bowl full of water is still needed to keep the flowers alive for more than a day, but when they eventually die everything can be composted and recycled, making cleanup an eco-friendly affair. More here.

May 23, 2013

Why the HTC One Lacks a Micro SD Slot

According to technical reasons, the version of the HTC One sold in the US lacks an SD card slot due to internal space restrictions. Because of something to do with mobile radio frequencies. That’s what HTC says and we're powerless to argue.

The explanation comes from HTC’s Jeff Gordon, the company’s Senior Global Online Communications Manager. Jeff told Techradar: “Because the Chinese version of the One is designed specifically for the smaller Chinese radio bands, we do have additional space inside the device we were able to use for the microSD slot. That space isn’t available in the global version.” They could, of course, just made it a bit bigger, though. So we’re not entirely sure we believe them. More here.

Microsoft Has Two New Mice for Windows 8 Multitasking

Microsoft has a couple new mice coming out today with some simple features that make using Windows 8 a little bit easier.

First up on the the fancier end is the Sculpt Comfort Mouse, which will be on sale in June. It's $40, connects to your computer or tablet via Bluetooth, and is the first Microsoft mouse with a blue, touch-sensitive Windows button that gives you a couple of shortcuts. Press it and it'll take you directly to the start screen, or use this button to swipe through all the apps you have open.

The more basic model is the Sculpt Mobile Mouse. Available later this month, it costs $30 and features four-way scrolling, meaning you can tilt the scroll wheel up down, left, or right. We played with both of the new mice and found that they were comfy and responsive, giving you that little extra something you want out of an accessory. Plus, they're a nice match to multitasking on Windows 8. More here.

May 22, 2013

This 1.5TB Laptop Drive Is the Most Memory-Dense You Can Buy

While SSDs are blisteringly fast, they still can't offer the capacities that the humble hard disk provides. Especially this one, because with 1.5 TB squeezed into its tiny little frame, it's the most memory-dense drive you can buy right now.

The 2.5-inch Travelstar 5K1500 is just 9.5mm deep. Packing 1.5TB, that means the drive offers 694Gb per square inch—comfortably making it the densest HDD on the market. It draws just 1.8W, but there is one downside: it only spins at 5,400 rpm, so it's not the fastest drive you'll ever use.

Still, if your laptop's heaving under the weight of video, music and whatever else you choose to fill it up with, then this little guy could provide just the shot in the arm it needs. There's currently no pricing information, but it will be available in June. More here.

China Has Their Own Stealth Drone

This is China's stealth combat drone, an airplane that seems very similar to the American Northrop Grumman X-47B. The unmanned combat air vehicle was photographed while performing taxiing tests. Given the development speed of China's other military airplanes, it wouldn't be surprising to see this in flight in the next few weeks.

According to China Defense Blog, it was initially labeled to be a project by "college students" for the 601 Aircraft Design Institute/Shenyang Aircraft Corporation. Clearly, it's much more than that.

It seems obvious that China's military complex is advancing at a higher pace than many in the West would like to believe. It is not comparable to the United States yet, but the technology matching may be a matter of years and not decades. And it has already happened in the cyber war front. More here.

May 21, 2013

This Rinsing Bowl Cleverly Includes a Colander

Isn't this an ingenious design? This bowl has a moveable colander piece that folds in and out so you can wash and serve your fruit in the same piece.

The combination strainer/bowl is $15 from Umbra. It rolls two steps of meal prep into one smart kitchen gadget, while solving one of life's most grating—albeit boring—problems. Ever been rinsing off some fresh fruit and dropped a plump strawberry into the nasty depths of your sink's drain?  It's the small things, really. More here.

The New Kinect Is So Sensitive It Can Read Your Heartbeat

Microsoft claims that the new Kinect is so sensitive that it can see the slightest movement of your wrists and fingers, the tension of your muscles and, amazingly enough, even your heartbeat.

So next time you exercise in front of the TV, it will be able to tell how much you are really working out. But I bet there will be a lot more to this feature, like a first-person shooter reading your heart beat and muscle tension to spook you at the right moment. And kill you for real. More here.

May 20, 2013

Why Brushing Your Teeth Makes Orange Juice Taste Bad

If you're going to have a glass of orange juice and brush your teeth (a good idea), there's only one order in which to do them. It makes sense that your minty toothpaste-mouth would make OJ taste weird, but why so down-right heinous?

As Bytesize Science explains, it's because your tongue gets coated with a particularly troublesome foamy oral detergent.

May 19, 2013

YouTube Turns Eight Today

The domain name was activated on February 14, 2005, and the first public preview of the site went live eight years ago today. So...birthday!

More than 100 hours or about four days-worth of video is uploaded to the site every minute now. Which is pretty staggering. On average, 1 billion people, almost half of worldwide internet users, visit YouTube every month. And yes, fine, we get it, there are adorable animal videos on YouTube. They are great. But at this point it's kind of gone beyond that.

May 18, 2013

How to Make Your Own Anti-Venom without Poisoning a Horse

The Iocane Powder trick really does work! As this slick educational short from the SciShowexplains, you've got two choices when it comes to treating deadly, deadly snake bites: you can either hopefully make it to a hospital in time to counter the toxins with dozens of expensive vials of delicate anti-venom, or you can slowly inoculate yourself against their effects—effectively turning yourself into a poison-immune mobile anti-venom factory. Where do I sign up?

May 17, 2013

Earth's Atmosphere Is Slowly Escaping Into Space

Take a deep breath. You're lucky to be able to. Without a handy blanket of atmosphere gases to swaddle us all, we'd be no more than a twinkle in evolution's eye. But that wonderful blanket of gas is slowly escaping, molecule by molecule, and there's not much we can do about it.

As MinuteEarth explains, the process is very slow, and chances are we'll be long gone before its ever complete. But someday, our blue-green wonderland will probably be just another barren rock like its neighbor, Mars. So enjoy this whole life thing while it lasts. Happy Friday!

May 16, 2013

Someone Finally Designed a Folding Chair That's Easy to Store

They're light, they're cheap, they're marginally comfortable, but ironically, folding chairs are rarely easy to stack and store. They're supposed to be, but their random curves and bulges make it a task that's frankly just not worth it—especially knowing that Folditure's ultra-flat hanging Tilt chairs are about to hit the market.

The hinges and supports on the Tilt that allow it to fold are designed so that when collapsed, the chair ends up being as flat as a pancake. So when stacked, the risk of avalanche is slim to nil. But stacking isn't your only option. The tilt also features an integrated hanger so a whole mess of them can be easily hung up like a closet full of clothes. There's no word on pricing or availability just yet, but Folditure has put crazier designs into production, so there's a good chance these will be too. More here.

May 15, 2013

Watch a Caterpillar Transform Into a Butterfly From Inside the Cocoon

If you ever stared at a chrysalis as a kid, patiently waiting for a beautiful new butterfly to emerge, you were probably left wondering just what was going on inside there. Was the caterpillar reconfiguring itself like a Transformer? Was it morphing like a Terminator? Nobody knows—except now everyone does thanks to these fascinating micro-CT 3D x-ray scans of the process.

Two research teams used the cutting edge imaging technique to routinely scan a chrysalis during its metamorphosis and generate 3D models of its organs and other internal structures changing over time. Smaller details—like details of the brain—are unfortunately still left out with the limitations of the technology. But as they improve, so will our understanding of this unique process. Not to mention, kids won't have to wait weeks to see a butterfly finally emerge—they can just hit fast forward.

What Your Body Will Do in the Next 30 Seconds

You might think 30 seconds is pretty short. Your body doesn't though. In order to keep everything running, there's a lot of things going on in those 30 seconds. Like you'll make 72 million red blood cells! And shed 174,000 skin cells! And have 25 thoughts. The human body, what a wonderful thing.

May 14, 2013

Windows "Blue" Is Officially Called Windows 8.1 and Free

Microsoft just announced on a call with shareholders that the Windows Blue update will officially be called Windows 8.1, which will be a free update. It'll be available for both Windows 8 and Windows RT.

A preview will be available to the public after the Microsoft Build conference. Windows 8.1 is expected to fix a lot of the biggest concerns users had with the Metro interface, without completely abandoning the concept. More here.

Costco UK Will Happily Sell You This Awesome $115,000 F1 Simulator

What do you rely on your local Costco for? Gigantic boxes of diapers? Bulk packs of chicken fingers? In the UK, when you're stocking up on bangers and mash, you can also go home with a full-size $115,000 Formula One simulator. Although, sadly, they're not sold in bulk packs for bigger savings.

The simulator is powered by a reasonably well-equipped Intel Core i7 processor gaming PC with 16 gigs of RAM and a fast SSD hard drive. And the pseudo-wraparound display is composed of three 23-inch TFT LCD displays, accompanied by speakers on either side that complement a full built-in 5.1 surround system.

But when you crunch the numbers, the electronics don't come anywhere close to breaking the ten grand mark. So the $115,000 price tag is mostly covering the ultra-realistic Formula One car chassis the simulator is housed in. It doesn't actually move, but it's made from similar materials as the actual racing vehicles, including composites like carbon fiber which help sell the simulated experience.

Of course given Formula One isn't quite as popular in the US as it is around the world, don't expect your local Costco to start carrying this anytime soon. But a Nascar version could be the perfect Father's Day gift. More here.

May 13, 2013

Leaked Pics of Nokia's New Aluminum Lumia Are Totally Gorgeous

We're already pretty into Nokia's just-announced Lumia 928, but here's what's coming next. Evleaks, who has a pretty great track record with these things, just showed the world Nokia's new phone, which seems to be the codename "Catwalk" phone we've been hearing about.

Details are scarse, but it's apparently very similar to the 920, just thinner, lighter, and with a better camera (no word on if this is the Xenon flash found in the 928, or something else). More here.

May 12, 2013

How to Stop Time With a Ceiling Fan, Two Flashlights and a Camera

Remember the now ubiquitous bullet time effect in the Matrix? That technique requires dozens of cameras and other expensive gear, but JPL engineer,inventor and Gizmodo friend Mark Rober, figured out how to do it for just a few dollars.

He managed to achieve the same effect using a ceiling fan, some card board, two flashlights and one single GoPro Hero Black camera filming at 240fps. And while you can't film yourself jumping and dodging bullets, the results are truly awesome.

Watch More Pretty Celebrities Read the Awful Tweets Sent to Them

May 10, 2013

Solar-Powered Cat Toy Taunts Your Feline Forever

If you'd rather your cats weren't shredding the furniture to pieces while you're away at work all day, you need a steady source of distraction to keep them occupied. And as long as you've got at least one window in your home, this solar-powered cat toy will keep them entertained and out of trouble. Mostly.

Just suction cup the toy's base to a window so that the solar cells can soak up as much light as possible, and it will do the rest by animating a dangling plastic ball and feathers. Your cat won't be able to resist it, unless, you know, it sees a flicker of light on the wall, or happens upon a dustball. But it's still $40 well spent if it helps preserve your expensive leather couch for even a day longer. More here.

Apple's Got a Huge Waiting List of Cops Who Need iPhones Cracked

It's no secret that the police aren't very good at breaking into encrypted iPhones, but they've been asking Apple for help. A lot of help. According to reports by CNET the government asks for so much help that the "please decrypt this iPhone for me" waiting list is at least seven weeks long.

Law enforcement is getting increasingly fond of performing forensic analysis on mobile devices that were involved in crimes, but pulling it off ain't easy. According to a search warrant affidavit CNET dug up, an ATF agent spent three months last summer "[attempting] to locate a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency with the forensic capabilities to unlock [an iPhone 4s]" before he turned to Apple. But the turnaround was far from zippy and took a couple months.

It's not impossible to brute force into an encrypted iPhone. If the pin is just four or five digits, it can be done in under an hour with specialized tools, but passcodes nine or ten digits long take years. Apple's got a better trick, though. What it is isn't exactly clear, but it's in high demand. Seven weeks is better than nothing, but you can bet that list is only going to keep getting longer unless Apple shares its goodies. More here.

May 9, 2013

This Portable Sound Camera Shows You Where It's Loud

Trying to pinpoint what exactly in your car is making that weird ticking noise can drive anyone to madness. As sensitive as our ears are, they're not always as great at precisely locating where a sound is coming from. Thankfully you have four other senses to help, particularly your sight, which this unique SeeSV-S205 acoustic imager lets you use to actually see sound.

Designed by Professor Suk-Hyung Bae and developed by a joint venture between SM Instruments and Hyundai, the four pound 'camera' uses 30 sensitive microphones arranged in a spiral pattern to provide visual feedback on sound intensities. Think of it as a thermal camera that's more concerned with decibels than degrees.

And so its use isn't limited to a laboratory setting where it's tethered to equipment and displays via heavy cables, the SeeSv-S205 is designed to be highly portable, wireless, and ergonomic to hold. So it can be easily used to troubleshoot a noisy engine, listen for infestation problems in your walls, or just prove once and for all that your annoying friend needs to use their inside voice. More here.

The Last Umbrella You'll Ever Buy Can Easily Survive a Wind Tunnel

Taking inspiration from a motorcycle helmet, which protects riders from the elements without hindering their line of sight, Stephen Collier created the Rainshader to be the next generation of umbrellas. And given it can survive Gale Force 7 winds up to 40 miles per hour, it could be the last brolly you ever buy.

Working with experts at the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation at the University of Warwick, Collier designed the Rainshader to funnel rain towards the front and back of the umbrella, not in all directions like with a traditional design. And since it protects the user like a waterproof dome that extends well below their shoulders, there's less chance of them getting completely soaked.

As an added bonus, the $40 Rainshader is also made from fiber glass struts instead of metal. And that, coupled with a rubber handle, means you're not wandering around in a storm acting like a mobile lightning rod. More here.

May 8, 2013

What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

DIY Cleaning Products? All You Need Is This Bottle

There's so much brain-melting, fish-mutating crap in the products we use every day to clean things. Natural products tend to be pretty expensive, but not if you make them yourself with this clever cleaning bottle.

It's $10 and it has everything you need—bottle, nozzle, lemon juicer, cloth, and a booklet of recipes for your own cleaning solution. Hey, you could buy something with fancy branding, but why would you when you could just concoct something on your own for less money? More here.

May 7, 2013

Windows Phone Finally Gets a Fully Functional YouTube App

After making due with an "app" that was little more than a hyperlink to YouTube's mobile web version, Windows Phone users finally get a fully supported (though still Microsoft-designed) YouTube app to call their very own.

You'll be getting everything we've come to expect from a Youtube app: sharing videos on any number of social media platforms, account sign-in and access, and continued background audio even when you minimize the app. Plus, in true Windows Phone style, you'll be able to set videos, playlists, channels, and specific search queries as Live Tiles.

If you already had the original "app" you should be getting an update notification, but first time downloaders can pick up the upgrade right over here.

Adorably Wrap Your iPhone Charger Like a Needle and Thread

Until smartphone batteries last for weeks on end, carrying a backup charging cable wherever you go will be a necessary evil. But at least you don't have to deal with a perpetual tangle of wires if you import SoftBank's new Itomaki AC Adapters. They're shaped like a thread spool letting you wind your cable around so it's always neat and tidy.

Available mid-June with a Lightning connector for the iPhone 5, the Itomaki will come in a series of subtle pastel colors for around $36. A 2.1 amp version for the iPad will be available a little later in July, while a microUSB version is also on the horizon, but with an unspecified release date. Hopefully it won't be far behind; there's nothing as exciting as a spool used to prevent knots instead of creating them. More here.

May 6, 2013

Confidently Crack Your Eggs With a Yolk Separating Whisk

Some recipes call for just the white stuff when you're cooking with eggs, while others need just the yolk. And if you've yet to master the art of using the egg's shell to separate the two, you'll be hoping Ivan Zhang's clever Whisk' concept becomes a purchasable product.

The tool's plastic strands feature an indent on one side that will trap a yolk when an egg is cracked over it. And so you don't need to learn how to single handedly crack an egg, the handle on the Whisk' is strategically designed to let it rest on the edge of a bowl without rolling. The only thing missing is some sort of self-washing functionality—and, you know, actual existence—for this to be the perfect kitchen tool. More here.

The World Is a Better Place With a Butter-Shredding Grater

Do you hear that? That's the sound of the world becoming a more awesome place/arteries clogging now that we have a better way to serve butter: by smooshing it through a customized cheese grater. Delicious.

And the Easy Butter Former doesn't only make spreading butter on fresh soft bread easier. It finally allows you to put your favorite topping on everything from cakes, to cookies, to pies, and even squeeze some into your coffee. What's even more amazing is that you can pick one up for just $23. As long as you've got good healthcare and don't have to pay for your own quadruple bypass one day, that's the bargain of the century. More here.

May 5, 2013

A Morse Code Clock Makes Everything Seem More Official

Honestly reviewing morse code is a little unnecessary. We're kind of done with that whole telegraph as the primary form of communication phase. On the other hand, it never hurts to know numbers in different systems. Roman numerals come in handy every now and then, right? Sometimes?

This morse code clock is just a little vacation from the Western Arabic numerals that taunt you from your credit card bill and bank account balance. No need to be reminded of harsh realities when you're checking the time. Plus, there's something kind of great looking about the pattern of dots and dashes. More here.

May 4, 2013

The World's First Entirely 3D Printed Gun

If you think that piece of plastic above is just a toy, you'd be wrong. It's an actual gun. That fires standard handgun bullets. That's 3D printed. Yes, printed. It's the first entirely 3D printed gun, previous 3D printed weapons have just been specific parts. Welcome to the future.

The 3D printed gun, called 'The Liberator', was made by Cody Wilson, the 25-year-old University of Texas law student who was the star of Motherboard's documentary Click. Print. Gun. Wilson has built the prototype weapon above and plans to release the CAD files for the gun next week to the public. Basically, anyone will then be able to print the weapon with no background checks or serial numbers.

Forbes says that the Liberator is made from sixteen different pieces and uses interchangeable barrels for different calibers. All those pieces are made from ABS plastic and formed from a Stratasys Dimension SST printer. The gun also uses a nail to act as its firing pin and Wilson added a six ounce piece of steel to the gun so it can be recognized by metal detectors. Kind! But of course, people who print this gun themselves won't be required to do that. Plastic guns aren't just toys anymore. More here.

May 3, 2013

Color-Changing Gloves Alert Lab Workers To Invisible Toxins

The trickiest part of avoiding exposure to toxic substances is that they're often invisible, odorless, and undetectable to our five senses. And as an alternative to expensive detectors and other electronic sensors, researchers at the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies EMFT in Regensburg have created a simple pair of gloves that turn color in the presence of toxic airborne materials.

The gloves are covered in a specially synthesized indicator dye that reacts to toxic substances by changing color. And the dye's chemical makeup can be tweaked to detect various toxins, like carbon monoxide or hydrogen sulfide.

The tricky part of developing the gloves has been engineering a color-changing dye that will adhere to the fabric even through washes, so that they don't lose their effectiveness and miss a potential risk. But once perfected the gloves could also be used to detect issues and contamination in food packaging facilities, or allow inspectors to easily find dangerous leaks in gas lines. More here.

May 2, 2013

An Incredibly Tiny Sofa Bed For Your Skinniest Houseguests

If you need a place for guests to sleep but don't even have room in your tiny apartment for an air mattress, you'll love what designer Jesper Ståhl has cooked up for Swedish brand Ire Mobel. By day the Collar is a compact arm chair with a high back cushioned corner and a pop-out desk for getting work done in comfort. But at night it folds out into a full-length bed for a single sleeper who's not afraid of rolling off the edge.

Pricing and availability details aren't available just yet, but one thing's for certain: anyone who regular works late is going to want one of these chairs for the corner of their office. More here.

If This Iron Man Flash Drive Can't Protect Your Files, What Will?

If Tony Stark's fancy suit is good enough for taking down baddies like the Mandarin, surely at least part of his getup must be an effective way to secure your digital paraphernalia? Available in eight and sixteen gig capacities, these Iron Man severed hand flash drives include posable fingers, a glowing repulser in the palm, and they come in left and right hand versions forcing you to get both to complete the set.

And while $55 for sixteen gigs of storage isn't cheap, a real Iron Man suit of armor will cost you millions and millions of dollars. So consider this an affordable compromise. More here.

Science Finds Fountain of Youth Brain Region That Slows Down Aging

Eternal or even elongated life is an idiotic thing to wish for. You don't want to get old, and then tack on 50 more years of wrinkles and Metamucil. But prolonged youth? Full body youth? More time being young and nubile and beautiful? Absolutely. And the key to that could lie right inside your brain.

Scientists have for the first time found a region of the brain—a signaling pathway in the hypothalamus—that can slow down or speed up the aging process in mice. Their lives and youthful vigor were extended by about 20 percent by a combination of blocking a protein complex with a distressingly long name (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells, or "evil magic") and injecting the brain with a hormone ("good magic", or gonadotropin-releasing hormone [GnRH]) that is blocked by that protein.

The long and short? Poke the brain, stay young like Aragorn or Halle Berry.

The hypothalamus controls functions like growth, reproduction, and metabolism, so it's not an outlandish leap to think it could also regulate aging. It's not confirmed that this function carries over to humans, but if it does, the results count be groundbreaking. Injecting GnRH, for example, not only slowed physical aging, but cognitive decline as well, by encouraging neuron regeneration. This would be great for degenerative conditions like Alzheimers and dementia, or possibly for brain injuries suffered in sports.

It's still not known exactly how aging works, scientifically. Whether it's a bunch of individual changes throughout your body, or if there's one main trigger point telling the rest of your body to get old, according to Livescience. So this could be just one piece of a much larger cosmos of anti-aging science. To that end, researchers at Johns Hopkins have been working on a Benjamin Button But Not Crap solution that could revert cells all the way back to the state they were in the day you were born. But given these results, there should be plenty more research down this path.

Naturally, there are a lot more factors to keeping humans young and fabulous than you see in mice. Wrinkles and gross old people skin, for instance. Collagen and elastin in the skin break down over time, and it's possible that wouldn't be related to the brain. Similarly, the liver spots prominent on the elderly are simply caused by a buildup of melanin over time. More here.

May 1, 2013

Scientists Are Making Oysters Safe to Eat With Electron Beams

Oysters might be a delicious aphrodisiac, but they have a tendency to be pretty unsanitary and they can make you sick. But researchers at Texas A&M University have found a way pasteurize the bivalves using electron beams, getting rid of some of the stuff that causes you to upchuck.

Some of the common pathogens found in oysters are Hepatitis A, Vibrio vulnificus, and norovirus, aka some of the common causes of food poisoning and the stomach bug. Oysters are usually cleaned by heating, freezing, or applying high pressure to combat the grime, but that's not always effective. That's where electron pasteurization comes in.

Lead researcher Dr. Suresh Pillai says a unpasteurized serving of 12 oysters could typically harbor around 100 Hepatitis A and noroviruses. When treated with a 5 kilogray electron beam dose, the Hepatitus A risk is reduced by 91 percent and the norovirus risk is lessened by about a quarter, Pillai says. A kilogray is a unit of absorbed energy of ionized radiation.

The use of electron beam technology to kill pathogens is FDA-approved, but it's not being used in commercial oyster processing. But considering how effective it was in this study, maybe we can count on cleaner oysters next time we're on the hunt for a hangover cure. More here.

A Magnet Keeps the Salt Inside These Stylish Shakers

Sometimes it feels like all kitchen accessories look the same. It's $30 for the pair, but it's the kind of thing that looks like you spent a more on it. (Thanks for the help, stainless steel). They come together like your arm bones, with the magnets working like elbows. And they connect at the spot where salt is dispensed, so you're saved from wasting your precious condiments. More here.