DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Archive for the 'News You Can Use.' Category

Stanford Breakthrough Might Triple Battery Life

2nd August 2014

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A team that includes former Energy secretary Steven Chu says it’s building a lithium anode battery that might give electric vehicles a 300-mile driving range and triple a cellphone’s juice. Stanford professor Yi Cui says it will likely take three to five years, though, to bring the product to market.

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USEFUL STUFF SATURDAY

2nd August 2014

Turn Any Regular Lighter Into Powerful Windproof Torch.

Darth Vader Outdoor Wood Stove.

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Consulting Medieval Manuscripts Online

31st July 2014

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If, of course, that’s what you want to do.

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The Animals That Taste Only Saltiness

30th July 2014

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Just in case you were wondering. I know I was.

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An Advance in Tractor-Beam Technology

30th July 2014

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While most of the documented experiments with tractor-beam technology so far have involved light waves, the team from Dundee used sound waves to manipulate a half-inch triangular prism made of metal and rubber, successfully pulling the target toward the source of the acoustic beam. Half an inch may not sound like much, but it’s a vast improvement on fifty nanometres. The experiment was part of a larger project across four U.K. universities—Bristol, Southampton, Glasgow, and Dundee—and took nine months to complete. The results have been published in Physical Review Letters.

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Your ‘Craft’ Rye Whiskey Is Probably From a Factory Distillery in Indiana

30th July 2014

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Read the promotional materials for the Rancho de Los Luceros Destilaría and you form an image of a supremely artisanal effort. The distillery creates “small batch heirloom spirits handcrafted in New Mexico.” Each batch of their rye whiskies, vodka, and gin is “individual and unique,” and “each bottle is hand bottled and hand marked with batch and bottle number.”

These are the standard selling points of the craft-distilling movement, with its locavore lingo, terroir talk, and handmade hype. But, in the new crowd of micro-distillers, it is now standard for the alcohol being sold to come not from their own distinctive stills, but from a hulking factory in Indiana.

A poseur and his money are soon parted. Color me amused.

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Adaptive Material Could Cut the Cost of Solar in Half

30th July 2014

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A material with optical properties that change to help it capture more incoming sunlight could cut the cost of solar power in half, according to Glint Photonics, a startup recently funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E).

Glint’s adaptive material greatly reduces the cost of a tracking system used in some types of solar power. It changes its reflectivity in response to heat from concentrated sunlight in a way that makes it possible capture light coming in at different angles throughout the day.

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Soviet Defector’s Trove of KGB Secrets Released

28th July 2014

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Original documents from one of the biggest intelligence leaks in history — a who’s who of Soviet spying — were released Monday after being held in secret for two decades.

The files smuggled out of Russia in 1992 by senior KGB official Vasili Mitrokhin describe sabotage plots, booby-trapped weapons caches and armies of agents under cover in the West — the real-life inspiration for the fictional Soviet moles in “The Americans” TV series.

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A New Project Stashes Carbon Dioxide in the Form of Minerals.

27th July 2014

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 How can we get rid of excess CO2? Geologist Juerg Matter of the University of Southampton, U.K. is a principal investigator of the Iceland-based project CarbFix, whose recent results show it has safely stored nearly 170 tons of carbon dioxide underground by reaction with minerals—stashing it in rock so it can’t leak out again. The next step is to go big.

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Segway Inventor Dean Kamen Thinks His New Stirling Engine Will Get You Off the Grid for Under $10K

27th July 2014

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If, of course, that’s what you want to do.

I have always been fascinated by Stirling engines, and I must confess that (like hydraulic rams) no matter how many times I read the explanations of how they work, I still don’t have a clue.

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Australia’s Carbon Tax Debacle Shows Why It’s a Bad Idea

27th July 2014

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Australia leapfrogged from being an environmental laggard (initially refusing to even sign the Kyoto Protocol) to a leader when its Green Party-backed Labor prime minister imposed a tax two years ago. It required Australia’s utilities and industries to pay $23 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions.

But the tax was an instant debacle.

Australia is even more coal-dependent than America, using it for 75 percent of its energy needs (compared to 42 percent in America). But contrary to green expectations, the tax didn’t prompt companies to rush toward renewable sources, because they are far costlier.

Rather, utilities passed their costs to households — whose energy bills soared by 20 percent in the first year. Other industries that face hyper-competitive environment such as airlines suffered massive losses. (Virgin Australia alone reported about $25 million in losses in just six months.) The tax also made Australian exports globally uncompetitive, deepening the country’s recession.

This spawned a backlash that brought down the Labor government and catapulted into office the Liberal Party’s Tony Abbott, who made a “blood promise” to ditch the tax, which he kept.

This is the truth that politicians rarely learn: Businesses don’t pay taxes; they merely collect them from their customers and pass the proceeds on to the government. If the extra burden of the tax is something that their customers are unwilling to pay, then the business fails, and that profits nobody.

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Parkour Group Brings ‘Assassin’s Creed’ to Life in Paris

26th July 2014

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Assassin’s Creed has always made it easy to pull off incredible acrobatic moves with little more than a tap of a button, but those video game leaps are nothing compared to seeing real parkour practitioners weave their way through the urban jungle.

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The Ship That Totally Failed to Change the World

26th July 2014

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The NS Savannah, which cost $50m, was launched 55 years ago this week. It was to be an ambassador of sorts – the world’s first nuclear-propelled merchant ship and a symbol of safety and faith in the fuel of the future.

I remember the Savannah, and always wondered what happened to it.

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Startups Are Finally Hacking Healthcare

26th July 2014

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And about fargin’ time, too.

New companies are going around the traditional “front door” of FDA approval, insurers and healthcare institutions by launching ‘Healthcare 2.0’ companies that target consumers and self-insured employers, upending the health sector through the use of innovative digital and social technologies.

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USEFUL STUFF SATURDAY

26th July 2014

Watch that will project time on your wrist.

The Swash machine.

Cordless Ultrasonic Rodent Repeller. Let’s set one up on Capitol Hill….

Chainmail running shoes. I am not making this up.

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Anti-Tank Missiles Deflected by New Israeli Defense System

24th July 2014

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At least five times in the past week in Gaza, Israeli tanks equipped with a revolutionary defense system have deflected anti-tank missiles fired at them by Hamas fighters, according to the Israeli army.

The success of the Windbreaker system, as it is called in Israel, augments on the ground the technological achievement in the air of the Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system which Israel credits with neutralizing the intensive rocketing from Gaza of the past two weeks.

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Air Waveguides Use Differences in Density to Keep Light Beams Focused

23rd July 2014

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Scientists say they have turned thin air into an “optical fibre” that can transmit and amplify light signals without the need for any cables.

In a proof-of-principle experiment they created an “air waveguide” that could one day be used as an instantaneous optical fibre to any point on earth, or even into space.

The findings, reported in the journal Optica, have applications in long range laser communications, high-resolution topographic mapping, air pollution and climate change research, and could also be used by the military to make laser weapons.

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New Spongelike Structure Converts Solar Energy Into Steam.

21st July 2014

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The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure’s surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material’s pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated.

The new material is able to convert 85 percent of incoming solar energy into steam — a significant improvement over recent approaches to solar-powered steam generation. What’s more, the setup loses very little heat in the process, and can produce steam at relatively low solar intensity. This would mean that, if scaled up, the setup would likely not require complex, costly systems to highly concentrate sunlight.

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From Alzheimer’s to ADHD: What Doctors Can Diagnose From Your Voice Alone

20th July 2014

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If Guillermo Cecchi wants to figure out if you’ve taken MDMA or meth, all he needs is a computer and a recording of your voice. Cecchi is a computer scientist at IBM, and part of a growing community of scientists who think our voices can reveal far more than our sex, age, or cultural origins. He thinks it can also unlock the mind — and the various psychological and neurological states our brains may be experiencing at any given time.

“This is exactly what psychiatrists do every day: they talk to the patients,” Cecchi says, “but we used machine learning and mathematics to replicate it.”

Pretty creepy.

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Huge Mystery Siberia Crater: Aliens or Meteor Not Involved, Officials Insist

20th July 2014

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For those who’ve always thought that Siberia was the asshole of the world — here’s proof.

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Soylent 1.0 Update

20th July 2014

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Apparently this stuff is still going strong.

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USEFUL STUFF SATURDAY

19th July 2014

Giant Hamster Wheel for cats.

Camelbak Eddy Bottle.

Cloud Lamp. Just in case you have small children the require entertainment.

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Detroit Police Chief: Armed Citizens Making Detroit Criminals Think Twice

17th July 2014

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With robberies in Detroit down 37 percent compared to figures from this same time last year, Detroit Police Chief James Craig says the increasing number of armed citizens is making criminals think twice before attacking.

My, what a surprise! Aren’t you surprised? I’m sure surprised.

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The Viking Facebook

15th July 2014

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An unusual article recently appeared in the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society and American Statistical Association.

It featured web-like diagrams of lines connecting nodes, a hallmark of research that analyzes networks. But each node, rather than being a plain dot, was the head of a burly, red-bearded Viking sporting a horned hat, his tresses blowing in the wind.

This whimsical-seeming piece of scholarship went on to describe the social network of more than 1,500 characters in the Icelandic Sagas, epic tales about the colonization of Iceland around a thousand years ago that were first written down a few hundred years after that. It was the work of a pair of statistical physicists, Ralph Kenna of University of Coventry in the UK and his graduate student Pádraig Mac Carron, now at Oxford, who are applying the tools of their trade to works of epic literature, legend, and myth.

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Nano-cone Textures Generate Extremely ‘Robust’ Water-Repellent Surfaces

15th July 2014

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“The idea that microscopic textures can impart a material with water-repellent properties has its origins in nature,” explained Brookhaven physicist and lead author Antonio Checco. “For example, the leaves of lotus plants and some insects’ exoskeletons have tiny-scale texturing designed to repel water by trapping air. This property, called ‘superhydrophobicity’ (or super-water-hating), enables water droplets to easily roll off, carrying dirt particles along with them.”

Mimicking this self-cleaning mechanism of nature is relevant for a wide range of applications, such as non-fouling, anti-icing, and antibacterial coatings. However, engineered superhydrophobic surfaces often fail under conditions involving high temperature, pressure, and humidity-such as automotive and aircraft windshields and steam turbine power generators-when the air trapped in the texture can be prone to escape. So scientists have been looking for schemes to improve the robustness of these surfaces by delaying or preventing air escape.

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If You Think 3D-Printed Guns Freaked People Out, Get Ready for 3D-Printed *Vaginas*

15th July 2014

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If you were searching for a Christmas gift for the President, look no further.

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World’s First Thorium Reactor Designed

15th July 2014

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The plan is to have a 300MW prototype in operation by 2016 and then expand thereafter. By 2050, thorium should meet 30% of India’s electricity demand.

The completion of the AHWR design is an important step towards reducing the import of fossil fuels and combat climate change.

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EXACTO Demonstrates First-Ever Guided .50-Caliber Bullets

13th July 2014

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DARPA’s Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program recently conducted the first successful live-fire tests demonstrating in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets. This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is aimed. EXACTO’s specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful hits.

More here.

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British Rocket Scientist Says He’s Designed a Better Saucepan

13th July 2014

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The “Flare Pan”, designed by Thomas Povey, is being manufactured and sold by Lakeland, a British kitchenware chain. It was introduced for sale Wednesday, but so far it seems to be available only in Britain, though it can be ordered through Lakeland’s website, with prices starting at about $85. Delivery won’t begin until Aug. 25.

Made from cast aluminum and sporting a series of “fins” around the bottom of the pan, the Flare Pan “channels heat from the flame across the bottom and up the sides of the pan, resulting in highly efficient, even heat distribution,” according to a release from Isis Innovation, which licenses technology developed at Oxford.

So it only works on gas cooktops. Less than optimally useful.

UPDATE: More here.

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ORBIS

12th July 2014

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ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World reconstructs the time cost and financial expense associated with a wide range of different types of travel in antiquity. The model is based on a simplified version of the giant network of cities, roads, rivers and sea lanes that framed movement across the Roman Empire. It broadly reflects conditions around 200 CE but also covers a few sites and roads created in late antiquity.

The model consists of 632 sites, most of them urban settlements but also including important promontories and mountain passes, and covers close to 10 million square kilometers (~4 million square miles) of terrestrial and maritime space. 301 sites serve as sea ports. The baseline road network encompasses 84,631 kilometers (52,587 miles) of road or desert tracks, complemented by 28,272 kilometers (17,567 miles) of navigable rivers and canals.

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USEFUL STUFF SATURDAY

12th July 2014

Bed Bug Registry.

Victorinox SwissCard.

Electric Peel MicroCar.

MultiPurpose Kitchen Tool Kit.

Golden Mean calipers.

Tea buttons.

PyroPet Candle. Surprise!

Scott Adams’ time-saving tips.

Fonhandle handle for your iPhone.

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Japanese Farmer Builds High-Tech Indoor Veggie Factory

11th July 2014

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Humans have spent the last 10,000 years mastering agriculture. But a freak summer storm or bad drought can still mar many a well-planted harvest. Not anymore, says Japanese plant physiologist Shigeharu Shimamura, who has moved industrial-scale farming under the roof.

Working in Miyagi Prefecture in eastern Japan, which was badly hit by powerful earthquake and tsunamis in 2011, Shimamura turned a former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory into the world’s largest indoor farm illuminated by LEDs. The special LED fixtures were developed by GE and emit light at wavelengths optimal for plant growth.

The farm is nearly half the size of a football field (25,000 square feet). It opened on July and it is already producing 10,000 heads of lettuce per day. “I knew how to grow good vegetables biologically and I wanted to integrate that knowledge with hardware to make things happen,” Shimamura says.

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Mechanical Movements, Animated

11th July 2014

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How to Teach a Robot to Write

11th July 2014

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Last week, the Associated Press announced it would be automating its articles on quarterly earnings reports. Instead of 300 articles written by humans, the company’s new software will write 4,400 of them, each formatted for AP style, in mere seconds. It’s not the first time a company has tried out automatic writing: Last year, a reporter at The LA Times wrote an automated earthquake reporting program that combined pre-written sentences with automatic seismograph reports to report quakes just seconds after they happen. The natural language generation company Narrative Science has been churning out automated sports reporting for years.

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Datamancer Keyboards Pay Homage to a Bygone Era

11th July 2014

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You know, when things were solidly built and looked good.

(I wonder what would happen if Jonny Ive got into steampunk?)

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CO2 Rise Increases Biodiversity, Crop Yields

10th July 2014

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Global warming alarmists should be comforted that they have a lot more to be happy about and should not be fretting that global catastrophe is knocking at the door.

But, of course, they aren’t.

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Murder Rate Drops as Concealed Carry Permits Rise, Study Claims

10th July 2014

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The study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 11.1 million Americans now have permits to carry concealed weapons, up from 4.5 million in 2007. The 146 percent increase has come even as both murder and violent crime rates have dropped by 22 percent.

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Bell Labs Sends 10Gbps Over Crappy COPPER Cable, Smashes Records

9th July 2014

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Bell Labs has pumped more data than ever before down antiquated copper wiring. The boffins used a frequency modulation system that they claim will be perfect for hooking up aging telco cables to future broadband fiber networks.

The technique is based on the G.fast standard being considered by the International Telecommunications Union; it’s a DSL standard designed to sustain 500Mbps connections over legacy copper cable networks using a 106MHz frequency range.

 

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Ring Carved Entirely From a Giant Diamond

8th July 2014

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Using lasers and traditional diamond cutting and polishing techniques, the ring weighs in at an impressive 150 carats. A year went into its making and its design is copyrighted, much like the shape of the Coke bottle is. It’s expected to sell for $70 million, though it was recently on display at Baselworld, leading us to believe that it has found no buyer. Yet.

Better hope it’s the right size.

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Extinct Bird Species Had Biggest Wingspan Ever

8th July 2014

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Researchers have uncovered the fossil of an extinct bird with a mouthful of tooth-like spikes and wings just smaller than a World War I fighter plane’s. At 20 to 24 feet from wingtip to wingtip, the new species had the biggest wingspan of any known bird, outstripping the next-biggest feathered flyer by 15% or more.

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3D-Printed Semiautomatic .22 Debuts.

7th July 2014

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LiveLeakPublished at LiveLeak by Buck O’Fama (just possibly a pseudonym) is this video demonstration of a 3D-printed pistol version of a Ruger 10/22—a popular semiautomatic .22 rifle. The receiver is 3D printed and glued together, with metal parts added, including what appears to be the bolt (and, I assume, a synthetic after-market stock*).

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Japan Pins Hopes on Floating Trains

7th July 2014

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The company that operates the original bullet train, linking Tokyo to Osaka, intends to build a new line that cuts the journey between the two cities to little more than an hour—less than half the current time.

This wouldn’t be any old upgrade. At a projected cost of about $90 billion, it could be the world’s most expensive railway line to date. And it would be the first intercity train to use a technology called magnetic levitation, or maglev, which lifts the cars several inches off a concrete track and whisks them along at more than 500 kilometers, or roughly 310 miles, per hour—nearly 200 kilometers per hour more than the fastest bullet train, or Shinkansen.

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In Japan, Idled Electronics Factories Find New Life in Farming

7th July 2014

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Amid troubled times in the Japanese electronics industry, Fujitsu shut one of the three chip-making lines at the plant in 2009. Now, in a sterile, dust-free clean room that once built the brains of high-tech gadgets, Mr. Miyabe and a staff of about 30 tend heads of lettuce.

“We thought about a data center or a call center, but it was difficult to get approval,” says Mr. Miyabe, who takes a proprietary pride in the new product. “I kind of feel attached to the lettuce as it grows. It’s cute.”

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Return of the European Bison

5th July 2014

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Bison bonasus was driven to extinction in the wild across Europe in 1927 after decades of decline from hunting and habitat loss. But it has become that rare endangered species: a conservation success story.

There are now thousands in the wild, all descended from the 54 individuals in captivity when the last wild one was killed in Poland’s Bialowieza forest.

Despite the increase in numbers, the European bison is still rarer than other high profile species, such as the black rhino, even with the reintroductions. There are over 5,000 European bison, with about 3,200 in the wild.

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These Bricks Are Like Lego for Full-Sized Buildings

5th July 2014

Read it. And watch the video.

The bricks — which are patent pending — are much like Lego in that they come in a variety of forms for different purposes and can easily connect together, with rows of knobs along the top of bricks that slot into voids along the bottom of other bricks. A special adhesive — which works like a super-strong double-sided sticky tape, a bit like 3M VHB — dispenses with the need for cement. They can be delivered to building sites in a kit complete with traditional doors and windows allowing for structures to be assembled with a minimum of debris and labour. Steel bars can be slotted through dedicated channels in the bricks to provide the same support as traditionally reinforced concrete.

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‘ComiCon for Special Forces’

5th July 2014

Read it. And watch the video.

Military officials from the U.S. and around the world are back home with their wish lists compiled from their epic hunts last week through more than 1,500 companies’ military tech offerings at Eurosatory in Paris.

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Soon Everyone Will be an Electric Company

5th July 2014

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In the not-too-distant future, everyone could be an electric company, selling power into the grid just like the owners of giant generating plants.

The idea of powering the electric grid from a multitude of sources is called distributed generation. Homeowners can already buy solar generators and furnaces that simultaneously produce heat and electricity. On the horizon are home battery systems that could let homeowners store solar power generated during the day for use at night.

Distributed generation isn’t pie-in-the sky — the know-how exists to build these systems. But the technology is held back by cost and by regulations that don’t allow for tiny contributions to the power grid. Federal energy experts figure costs will drop and regulatory issues will be overcome, and that the amount of electricity homes and businesses produce through distributed generation could roughly double over the next 25 years. That’s not enough to replace big generating plants, but enough to have a big impact.

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USEFUL STUFF SATURDAY

5th July 2014

Matador Pocket Blanket

Waffles on a Stick

Portable Security Door Device. For when the SWAT team mistakes your door for that of the drug dealer down the street. (Maybe this time they won’t shoot your dog.)

Edible Cupcake Wrappers.

Distance-Calculating Binoculars. In case you run across some Tuskan raiders.

LED Grill Light Spatula. In case you’re grilling in the dark for some reason.

Bottle Opener Cuff Links. If James Bond had had ‘em, he would have used ‘em.

Leatherman Skeletool. What Optimus Prime carries in his back pocket.

Finger-Friendly Guitar Company Keyboard. In case you don’t want karate-master calluses on your left hand.

Personalized Earbuds. Stick it in yer ear.

Beer Slushie Maker. For those who like that sort of thing (you know who you are).

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Alaska’s Bear Cams are the Best Live Show on the Internet

4th July 2014

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After puppy-cams, you know it had to happen.

I’d be interested in a shark-cam, myself.

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Why 10% of the Population Hates Cilantro and the Rest Doesn’t Know Any Better

4th July 2014

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And here I thought Cilantro was a character in the newest teen-vampire book. Or perhaps some disgusting condition for which they’ve recently developed a creme.

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