Sep 30, 2013

Flexible Folding Flat Kitchen Utensils That Do More Than Just Scrape

It doesn't matter what you're buying, everyone wants to get as much bang for their buck as possible. And what looks like a set of three pieces of plastic cookware actually turns into six with nothing more than a gentle squeeze. It's like having the Transformers in your kitchen, minus the epic Michael Bay level of destruction.

Made from food-grade nylon and flexible silicone so they're dishwasher safe, these flat spatulas—sold separately at $16 a pop—easily transform into a spoon, a slotted ladle, and a spaghetti scoop. Which means that not only are they extra-functional, they also easily slip into even the most jam packed of utensil drawers. Now if only the toaster and tea kettle crowding your kitchen counters could do that. More here.

Researchers Bioengineer Bacteria That Can Produce Gasoline

Korean researchers have engineered a new strain of E. coli that can produce a suitable substitute for gasoline. And as they quite rightly point out, bacteria that poops out petroleum could be some valuable shit.

Digging up fossil resources carries tremendous environmental, monetary, and geopolitical costs, which means figuring out a way to feed the world's huge addiction to gasoline without unearthing crude could have a tremendous impact.

Bacteria, meanwhile, has already proven itself capable of amazing things. It's responsible for making your booze boozy, and in recent years it has been used to produce everything fromgold to diesel fuel. When it comes to producing biofuels, we're probably most familiar with bacteria that produce ethanol, but as the Korean researchers point out in a new study published in Nature, petroleum has a 30-percent higher energy content than traditional biofuels.

The new bioengineering process leverages existing E. coli strains to produce short-chain Alkanes molecules, which they claim is a chemically identical replacement for the combination of short-chain hydrocarbons commonly known as gasoline. In other words, you could put this bacterial excretion into your car and it would run. The WSJ reports:
When the modified E. coli were fed glucose, found in plants or other non-food crops, the enzymes they produced converted the sugar into fatty acids and then turned these into hydrocarbons that were chemically and structurally identical to those found in commercial fuel...
Unfortunately, as the WSJ points out, one liter of glucose produces just 580 milligrams of gas, which is a highly unfavorable yield to say the least. The tech's too new to power cars anytime soon, but it's an important step towards motoring the highways, powered by poop. More here.

Sep 29, 2013

Watch Every Model of iPhone Get Speed Tested at the Same Time

Ever wonder if your iPhone 4 really was weirdly slow? Or if iOS 7, despite its bells and whistles, just has a longer boot time than your old 3G? Well wonder no longer. You're about to find out for sure.

EverythingApplePro ran an absurdly comprehensive speed test using every iPhone ever made (and a whole bunch of hands). The results might surprise you.

Sep 28, 2013

This Grapefruit Sectioner Might Be the Most Specific Kitchen Gadget

No longer do those wanting to eat healthy at breakfast have to live in fear of the backlash from the grapefruit they're digging into. This Citrus Sectioner replaces your spoon with a purpose-built contraption that safely and easily removes a wedge from your favorite morning fruit—minus any geysers of blinding juice.

Despite being what is possibly the most specific kitchen gadget ever created, the sectioner is just $10, and the stainless steel beak that does all the slicing is dishwasher-friendly, so breakfast cleanup is just as easy as prep. It's also promised to work with all manner of citrus fruits, including oranges, heftier tangerines, and even lemons, and limes. More here.

Sep 27, 2013

How Mercedes Benz Uses Cameras to Stabilize the Road While You Drive

You'll never feel a bump again. Hopefully.

The magic in the, um, Magic is the combination of stereo cameras on the windshield and an adaptive suspension system. The cameras can scan a road's surface 50 feet ahead in real time while going 80mph to analyze the condition of the surface. It then passes on its measurement data of the road onto the suspension system which adjusts itself right as the car is driving over the uneven road. It supposedly prevents oscillating and reduces vibration. Smooth sailing. Or driving.

The system can recognizes 'obstacles' at 3mm or better so it gets pretty damn detailed. From the looks of the video (which is put out by Mercedes), there seems to be a legit difference when a car is equipped with the Magic Body Control and when it's not. Who knows what that's like in real life (only rich people will know). More here.

Beats Has Ended Its Relationship With HTC

Beats has had enough: it's walking out of its relationship with HTC and buying back the 25 percent stake currently held by smartphone manufacturer.
HTC ponied up $300 million back in 2011 for a 50.1 percent stake in Beats. Then, the headphone manufacturer paid $150 million to buy back 25 percent last year. Today, it takes back full control for an extra $265 million.
It's unclear what the future now holds for the pair: while HTC says Beats will remain an important partners, the headphone manufacturer hasn't bothered to make any noises in agreement. With HTC's profits dwindling and Beats' performing strongly, it could be the end of all that audio branding being splashed over the back of the Taiwanese handsets. Thank goodness. More here.

Sep 25, 2013

Scientists Found a New Way to Turn Plastic Bags into a Supermaterial

Have you ever had a roommate who saves plastic grocery bags just in case they ever have the need to reuse the dang things? Like, hundreds of plastic grocery bags? Well, thanks to some Australian engineers, those extra bags can not only have a purpose, they can become technology of the future.

A team from the University of Adelaide recently developed a method for turning plastic bags into carbon nanotubes. Specifically, they grew the nanotubes on alumina membranes by vaporizing the plastic bags in a furnace and then layering the isolated carbon molecules onto the membranes. Carbon nanotubes are among the strongest and stiffest materials known to man and can be used for everything from electronics to wind turbines. And this new process creates the nanotubes while also doing away with problematic waste.

This actually isn't the first time that scientists have built carbon nanotubes from the remnants of plastic bags. Back in 2009, a team from the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois came up with a process that converted plastic bags into carbon nanotubes using a cobalt acetate catalyst. The scientists then used the nanotubes to build lithium ion batteries. The problem with that method, however, was that the cobalt used was rather expensive, and only one fifth of the material from the plastic bags was actually converted for use in the carbon nanotube.

The new Australian method is both cheaper and more efficient. And both methods make those nasty pieces of trash into something that we can actually use, instead of just taking up space space in your kitchen cabinet. More here.

Trade Your Swiss Army Knife For This Multi-Function iPhone Case

Your smartphone has already replaced everything from your digital camera to your alarm clock, so why not the pocket knife clipped to your keyring too? The creators of the IN1 feel you should demand more from your iPhone case than just a way to protect it from falls, and so have packed theirs with a multitude of removable tools sure to make any wannabe MacGyver happy.

The IN1's polycarbonate casing includes a pop-up kickstand for easier hands-free viewing, but that pales in comparison to its built-in tool chest that boasts pens, screwdrivers, files, tweezers, scissors, and even a toothpick.

And before you start decrying this case as a good way to miss your flight, the lack of a sharp blade means the IN1's actually designed to be completely TSA compliant. So you don't have to worry about security making you toss your iPhone case and being out $45. More here.

Chromosomes Actually Look Like an Insane Ball of Spaghetti

Remember back in high school biology class when you had to sketch the structure of a cell? Chromosomes were always fun because you know they'd be these smooth X's stuffed with DNA. Well, I hate to break it to you, but science doesn't actually work like that.

Researchers from the Babraham Institute and the University of Cambridge have just completed detailed 3D models of chromosomes that look less like the 24th letter of the alphabet and more like technicolor pasta. As the Babraham Institute's Dr. Peter Fraser explains:
The image of a chromosome, an X-shaped blob of DNA, is familiar to many but this microscopic portrait of a chromosome actually shows a structure that occurs only transiently in cells—at a point when they are just about to divide.
The vast majority of cells in an organism have finished dividing and their chromosomes don't look anything like the X-shape. Chromosomes in these cells exist in a very different form and so far it has been impossible to create accurate pictures of their structure.
It wasn't easy to create the images, either. To do it, the researchers used the latest DNA sequencing technology to track the movement of chromosomes on a molecular level. When combined using computers, the measurements translated into the complex 3D image.

Frankly, it all makes sense. Life is an incredibly complicated thing, so why would graphic representations of it be so simple. The only problem now is that instead of neat lines tucked into cell walls high school students all across America will have to draw blobs of psychedelic spaghetti. More here.

Sep 24, 2013

An Old Clipboard Makes For a Brilliantly Simple Bird Feeder

Rarely does anyone want the last slice found at the bottom of a bag of bread. But instead of just tossing it on the ground for birds and squirrels to fight over, Israeli-based designerNitsan Hoorgin has created a simple feeder that lets birds perch and nibble on that last slice.

The Clip and Tweet easily attaches to the side of a tree or a house with a single screw, and as long as you keep it low enough to be in reach, attaching a slice of bread is as easy as securing a notepad to a clipboard.

And speaking of which, it doesn't appear as if the Clip and Save is going into production any time soon. But if you have an old clipboard and a coat hanger you don't need any more, creating one of these yourself looks like it only requires basic crafting skills, and a disdain for that last crusty piece of bread. More here.

Sep 23, 2013

Scientists Successfully "Erase" Fear Using Scent Therapy

Have you had trouble shaking that fear of snakes or dogs or spiders? Researchers from Northwestern University have developed a new technique to rechannel memories while subjects sleep—by blasting them with various odors. It's like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in Smell-o-Vision.

For the experiment, scientists conditioned patients to be afraid of a certain face by showing them a picture of the face along with a specific smell and then administering an electric shock. Patients would eventually learn to fear not only the image of the face but also the associated smell. The smell would trigger fear even when the patient was asleep and not being shocked, but after so many exposures, the fearful reaction would fade away. In effect, the exposure to the smell would do away with the fear.

This study sheds more light on the strong relationship between emotion and smell. Some scientists suggest that this is because the olfactory bulb where smells are processed is close to the amygdala and hippocampus, where emotion and memory are processed. Other experiments have been conducted that confirm the relationship, too. Last year, for instance, scientists showed 70 women a traumatic video while the smell of cassis was pumped into the room. A week later, the women were asked to recall the contents of the video, and some were exposed to the cassis again. Those who smelled the cassis could recall more from the video than those who were not exposed to the scent.

The relationship gets even more interesting. A few years ago, Norwegian artist Sissel Tolaas collected the sweat of various men after they'd been exposed to fear-inducing stimuli and chemically reproduced it. The resultant smell was then installed in a gallery setting using a process called microencapsulation, which is similar to how Scratch'n'sniff products are made. In the gallery, people could scratch or rub the walls and literally smell fear. The public's reaction to the art varied widely as many had visceral reactions to the smell, some of whom couldn't even walk into the room. Scientists are increasingly learning that people can't help but have visceral reactions to smell. Our brains are just wired that way. More here.

Android Turns 5 Years Old Today

Today in 2008, Google executives stood on stage and announced the much-rumored T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC Dream). It was the first commercial product to run a new, Linux-based operating system called Android. It turned out pretty OK.

Des Smith, one of the members of the original Android team, shared some of his recollections on Google+. Things were different then.

Sep 22, 2013

When Was the Last Time You Switched Cell Carriers?

Everyone hates their carrier, right? That's just a thing. They're either so huge that you get ripped off and can't get any customer service, or they're so small that their service coverage is weird and their handset options are lousy. But it increasingly seems like there are viable alternative options. Like Republic Wireless's $20-a-month unlimited plan. It's actually solid and now the company is offering the Moto X. Is that tempting? Do you have some crazy grandfathered plan from the late 90s or do you move from deal to deal every few years? Jump ship or stay loyal below.

Sep 20, 2013

iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 5C Teardown: Just How Different Are They?

This video tears down the 5 and 5C simultaneously, to see exactly how they differ. Maybe it'll help you decided which one to plump for.

First iPhone 5S and 5C Drop Test: Only One of Them Shatters

Android Authority tested the two devices by dropping them from chest level on their backs, sides, and fronts. In the end, no surprise here—the cheaper phone ended up being less sturdy and its face shattered. On the other hand, with its aluminum housing, the 5S looks like it can take a little more abuse.

This Bicycle's Frame Acts As a Shock Absorber

When you ride your bike to and from work every single day, you're going to want to make sure it's as comfy as possible. And that's exactly what Alter Cycles is promising commuters with its unorthodox take on shock absorbers. Instead of integrating them into the front forks, the company's replaced the down tube on its bikes with a flexible bow that promises varying degrees of comfort.

By swapping in interchangeable down tubes of varying flexibility, a biker can fine tune their cycle's ride—from soft to stiff—depending on the terrain they face on their commute. When eventually available to the public, the Alter Cycles bike should sell for around $800, while the various down tube options should run anywhere from $75 to $100, with off-road versions also enroute.

So what do you think? Could this actually be a better alternative to front fork suspension systems? Or is this just another novel design that doesn't quite offer enough innovation to take the biking world by storm? More here.

A Salad Spinner With a Turbo Button—Who Wants To Wait For Salad?

The allure of a shiny new gadget is easy to overcome when it costs hundreds of dollars and comes with a multi-year contract. But cheaper contraptions, like the stuff you'll find in a kitchen store, are almost impossible to resist. Does anyone really need a salad spinner with a turbo button that promises 50 percent faster rotation speeds? No. But anything with a turbo option is just too tempting. Whether it's cars, computers, or EMSA's new Turboline salad spinner.

You can't go wrong with a stylish stainless steel bowl, but it's the pull string spinning mechanism—complete with that turbo mode which switches up the gearing on the fly—that suddenly has gadget fiends interested in drying produce. And at $45 without a contract—except maybe a personal contract to eat more healthy—salads suddenly seem a lot more appealing. More here.

Sep 19, 2013

Why Does Arm Exercise Make Your Legs Tired?

Strenuous activity wears you out. No news there. But it turns out that exercising your biceps will make your legs just as tired as working out your quads. And for the first time, researchers seem to know why.

Researchers at Britain's Nottingham Trent University tested subjects on two different exercise setups: one group did two rounds of intense leg exercises, the other did arms followed by legs. Each group's second set of exercises showed about a 33% decline in performance — despite half of the subjects starting with fresh legs. Physiologically, this is puzzling: each muscle contains its own fuel (glycogen, ATP and phosphocreatine, for you science types), and your arms can't steal energy stored away in your legs. So what gives?

The hypothesis is that, while fuel use is contained to the muscle being exercised, the buildup of metabolites in the blood affects the whole body. In other words, the lactate, hydrogen and potassium your arms spit out while you're blasting curls will slow down your "fresh" legs almost as much as if you were grinding out squats, despite your quads having a full tank of fuel. So while exercise enthusiasts tend to work on each muscle group as its own ecosystem, it turns out the human body operates more like one integrated machine. More here.

Sep 18, 2013

Is the Data on Your SSD Secure?

SSDs are wonderful things that take up next to no space and are incredibly fast to boot. But while most people understand the basics data security on HDDs, the same isn't necessarily true of solid state storage.

Deleting files may not mean they're gone, overwriting them isn't safe, and a thorough scrub is at the whim of a micro controller, not the user. In this video, Professor Derek McAuley explains just how secure the data on your SSD is.

How Do You Like iOS 7 So Far?

iOS is out. Provided you made it through updating purgatory, your iPhone is up and running on the new software. How do you like it so far?

iOS 7 is beautiful and colorful, and everything looks different—like your apps. But a new operating system takes some getting used to. There are going to be things you notice right off the bat that you really like, and others that you just don't, and there might be some bugginess you have to deal with. More here.