Category Archives: SCIENCE

generating electricity from wind power need not to be expensive

Winflex Wind Turbine img1 544px
(image credit: WINFLEX)

typically, a wind turbine would cost millions of dollars to construct and that’s not including the cost of the operations yet. an Israeli company, WINFLEX, is set to change this with this low-cost Winflex Inflatable Turbine. on the wind harvesting end, the Winflex Inflatable Turbine’s rotor is an inflatable wheel with pressure within being maintained by a central inflationary system.

the rotor has sail-like blades that spanned from the inner circumference of the inflated wheel to the center hub. constructed out of light, flexible composite material, this wind turbine is inexpensive to manufacture and install unlike the typical wind turbines we have today.

harnessing the wind energy might be a common thing in near future with this low-cost wind turbines where previously, the prohibitive cost for a modern day steel structure wind turbines has forbid us from doing so. very soon we could be seeing these wind turbines popping everywhere, and probably not a very good news to the grid, isn’t it?

as an affirmation of their innovation, Winflex was one of Innovation Award Winner in GE’s Ecomagination Challenge.

via Core77

‘transparent cement’ might be a solution for energy saving

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(image credit: Italcementi)

if you had been to the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, you might have noticed the awesome Italian Pavilion. looks aside, it was what they used to clad this building that was (somewhat) magical. apparently, the Italian Pavilion walls are not your usual bricks and mortars, and it wasn’t cement either. when viewed at a certain angle, the walls looked like it was concrete but it was really an unique material which actually allows light to pass through them.

developed by an Italian firm, Italcementi Group, the trademarked “transparent cement” is named as the i.light. what is it with the “i” in front of a word, anyway? in anyway, what’s in the i.light is a trade secret and what was known is that it’s “an innovative cement and admixtures mix design.” we shall spare ourselves the torment of technical details.

no words on the i.light availability commercially but using such materials in future buildings could potentially cut down on electricity in terms of day time lighting. not to mention a more bright and lively environment. you know? future doesn’t have to be all dark and creepy like Dark City. the future is indeed bright, isn’t it?

images bar 150x67 Italcementi i.light installed in Italian Pavilion @ World Expo 2010 Italcementi i.light installed in Italian Pavilion @ World Expo 2010 544px Italcementi i.light installed in Italian Pavilion @ World Expo 2010 544px

via Gizmag

C-Water – water purification has never been this easy

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(image credit: Chao Gao)

there are so much talk about solar energy, wind energy and i think it’s high time somebody starts thinking about water conservation – which is also an important resources that we can’t live without. with the ocean covering 70 percent of the earth, water purification could provide us with clean, drinking water from this abundant resource. not to mention, places that do not have access to clean drinking water.

at least this is what designer Chao Gao has in mind with the portable water recycle device, dubbed the C-Water. sea water, C-water. get it? or maybe not. it could be just a coincidence or simply means ‘see water’? nah. anyway, C-Water employs really simple method of distillation by means of evaporation.

the C-Water is a slim device and several of it can be combined together to create a larger C-Water system. power to the C-Water is bestowed by the sun. there’s not even a single electronic or battery involved. you couldn’t get anymore environmental friendly then this. C-Water is light weight enough to be able to float on any calm water surface.

the operation of the C-Water is completely idiot-proof, hence we wouldn’t want to bother elaborating how it works. just check out the images below. they are really, ridiculously simple and self-explanatory. basic science at work. however, there are no details on the rate of water purification at this point. from the little knowledge i had on science, it’s going to take quite a bit of time. then again, if you are out in the wild, this could be a life saver gadget.

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(image credit: Chao Gao)

Chao Gao C-Water - combining more than one C-Water 544px
(image credit: Chao Gao)

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(image credit: Chao Gao)

via Yanko Design

the army is green, but it gets even greener with Solar-powered tents

Transportable Solar-powered Tents 544px
(image credit: U.S. Army)

while solar energy is not uncommon in the commercial sector, its application in the military is few and far between. however, this might just change with the U.S. Army current evaluation of the possibility of harnessing the power of the sun through the use of transportable solar-powered tents.

currently, three products are being evaluated, namely: Power Shade, TEMPER Fly and QUADrant. pretty fancy names, i must say. these tents has Flexible Photovoltaics (PV) built-in them and are capable of the generating between 200 watts to 3 kilowatts of electricity. of course, the physical size of the tents are different too.

traditionally, portable batteries or generators are used to supply field tents with electrical power, hence with the solar-powered tents, the these traditional way of supplying power in field could be a thing of the past. no more lugging of batteries and fuel around as the tents get redeployed from places to places, not to mention it’s environmental-friendly and saves on cost for deployment in the field.

all we need to established now is the storage of the harvested energy. certainly, the storage must be ample, able to keep the energy stored effectively and last but not least, they mustn’t be bulky. else, it will defeat part of the purposed of the solar-powered tents. it would be funny, to be lugging around huge bulky storage cells, instead of batteries or fuel. don’t you think so?


you have Earth, Maps, Street View and now it’s the Google Body

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(credit: screenshot by mike from Google Body Browser)

in addition to browsing our planet earth or peeking down on the maps, you can now browse the human anatomy – the Google way. the Google body browser lets you view, in three-dimensions, a multi-layered human body just as you would with Google Earth or Maps. user is able to zoom in and out, rotate and adjust to the various layers of skins, muscles, tissues and skeletal system.

there is also a search function which enables user to be taken directly to the part that the user is searching for. obviously, user experience ranks up high with any Google products. therefore, as you would have expected, the Google body browser does not use Flash, Java or any other graphical plugins. though no plugins are required, you will need a web browser with WebGL support.

don’t worry if you don’t know whether your browser is supported or not. just head on to Google body browser and you will be advised on how to get going with exploring the anatomy. think it’s about time for us to get educated on our human body. it couldn’t be simpler than that. well, at least as a general knowledge for the rest of the non-doctors.

no, there’s no Artery View as yet. but who knows Google might just surprise us yet again.

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(credit: screenshot by mike from Google Body Browser)

via USA Today

a chance to influence the outcome of the movie you’re watching

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(image credit: Tel Aviv University)

influencing the outcome of a story is not new. it has been done for viral marketing campaign video on YouTube and it was implemented in games. but to influence the outcome of a movie? that’s something new. this exactly what this system from Israel’s Tel Aviv University does – let viewers to influence the movie’s plot when viewing it.

the concept is simple. while watching the interactive movie, viewer will make ‘decision’ on behalf of the character in the movie at certain crucial moments. these crucial moments will appear on screen as an ‘action item’. one example is leading the character to choose a path – head into the forest or continue on an open road? each decision will influence what is going to happen next. if no decision is taken, the movie will proceed on a predetermined course.

the film length will also varies depending on the viewer input and it will also allows viewer to backtrack to the crucial points and make a different decision, just to see what happens if alternative action was taken.

by now, you might have notice this system will only work with touchscreen TV and portable devices like the iPad. sounds interesting enough, but sometime viewers just want to seat back, enjoy the movie and do nothing else. it will be quite a hassle to be constantly making decision. on the production aspects, it would most certainly increase the cost since now double takes are required for each decision juncture.

at the end of the day, watching this type of movie is more akin to a role playing game. it kind of blur the line between gaming and movie. when viewed by a group, there is the issue of who’s going to make the decision? would it be collectively decision or a single person’s decision? or would we end up spending more time arguing about what decision to take when watching the interactive movie? it will be interesting to see the outcome if this becomes a reality.

by the way, they actually made a movie, dubbed Turbulence, based on this new interactive technology for movie. it was screened in September at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival held in Berkeley, California and the film was awarded the Grand Festival Experimental Feature Award. well, call me lazy or traditionalist. i just want to seat back, relax and watch the movie.


PS3-powered supercomputer used by US Air Force

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(image credit: Air Force Research Laboratory)

well, the US Air Force didn’t actually use the Playstation 3 console as a whole, much less to play games. in fact, what the US Air Force did was using more than 1,700 Sony PS3 processors. the supercomputer which also incorporates 168 separate graphical processing units, is capable of crunching 500 trillions calculations per second. that’s like 50, 000 times faster than your average laptop.

by using off-the-shelf components, it reduces the cost of the supercomputer. according to Mark Barnell (director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s high-power computing division), the system cost somewhere around US$2 million, “which is a cost savings of between 10 to 20 times for the equivalent capability.” at least tax payers know that the Department of Defense is ‘trying not to spend too much’ which should be good for PR, though not everyone will be amused.

the system, dubbed the Condor Cluster will undertake a range of tasks which include synthetic aperture radar enhancement and a bunch of other stuff which, we commoners, would never understand. maybe that’s why we always lament how our money was being spend frivolously for defense.


SpiderOptic technology offers more freedom to ROVs

Hawkes Remotes U-11000 ROV 544px
(image credit: Hawkes Remotes)

traditionally, underwater remote operated vehicles (also known as ROVs) are linked the surface ship or platform via a thick communication and power line, which makes the ROVs cumbersome and hard to maneuver. the weight of the tethering cable tends to limit the maneuverability and range of the ROVs. however, this scenario is set to change with the recently announced SpiderOptics technology developed by Hawkes Remotes. Continue reading SpiderOptic technology offers more freedom to ROVs

Athlete robot showcased in IEEE Humanoids 2010 conference

Athlete Bot screenshot 544px
(credit: screenshot from YouTube video)

in the recent IEEE Humanoids 2010 conference, held in Nashville, Tennessee, Ryumu Niiyama showcased a running robot, dubbed the Athlete. this Athlete-bot with springy blade-like legs, emulates the human muscles in the leg, hip and lower abdomen regions with an artificial musculoskeletal system.

judging from the video, i guess the development is still in its infancy. the bot was rigged with a harness hung from the ceiling and manages a few steps before falling to the ground. nevertheless it was a promising development and the knowledge gained from such developments may be (in future) translated to practical uses for devices which will eventually aid disable people in achieving freedom of movement again.


C60 Redux lets you touch your music once again

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(image credit: i miss my pencil)

remember those days when we used to physically put our music to play? be it a 8-track tape, a vinyl record, a cassette tape or (more recently) CD. with the revolution of digital music, i can’t remember the last time i have handled another physical media to play my music. with the physical feel being missed, this guys over at IDEO came up with a working concept to put touches back to your music.

the C60 Redux is basically a music player with loads of RFID readers in it (to be precise, underneath it). the concept, shaped like a square-off vinyl, plays the music associated with the music card embedded with two RFID tags. to play the music, all you have to do is placed the music card onto the C60 platter and the music will start. you are able to place a few music cards on the platter, and it will churn out the music in clockwise sequence.

novelty? perhaps, but if the C60 makes into the market, i want to one. it is true that click and play does get boring sometimes. on top that, i am sure it will put some fun back into listening music.

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(image credit: i miss my pencil)

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(image credit: i miss my pencil)

c60 Redux from IDEO on Vimeo.