November 2009 - Posts

A team at Georgia Tech has been developing a new way to collect energy from the sun without big unsightly panels. Instead, the new photovoltaic system will be a three dimensional cell with a small fiberoptic wire being the only thing required to be in the sunlight.

 

First, they strip the outer layer of the fiber, then they coat it with a conductive material. Once that is finished, they grow zinc oxide nanostructures around the fiberoptic cable. Then the nanowires are coated with a dye sensitized material that creates electricity when it interacts with light. After that, a coat of a liquid electrolye is applied to capture the electricity produced by the light's interaction with the dye. Each reflection in the wire causes for a greater chance of the light interacting with the dye. Once the light reaches the end of the wire it bounces back, allowing for double the absorption. 

 

So far, the team, lead by Dr. Zhong Wang has only been able to get an efficiency of about 3.3 percent, but they hope to reach an efficiency of 8 percent or more by messing around with the surface structure. The wire can be cut in any length, and folding the wire is also possible for packing even more wire in one small space. Right now about 10 centimeters of wire produces about .5 volts. 

 

While the dye based solar cells are very cheap to produce and their flexibility makes them much easier to conceal, they still are not as and probably never will be as efficient as their silicon-based counterparts. What's great though is that the production of silicon-based panels requires temperatures of several hundred degrees while the new 3D photovoltaic system requires less heat than boiling water.

The new technology could potentially eliminate the need for large panels, and may even be a help in military technology. While the volts produced may be too minimal to power a vehicle, it could still run other small electronic devices. The military may use the technology to power equipment without having large shiny solar panels that may give away their position.

"This is a different way to gather power from the sun," Wang said. "To meet our energy needs, we need all the approaches we can get."

I think that going down this path is necessary for us to become more energy efficient and less dependent on harmful fuels.

 SOURCE: ABC NEWS

Posted Monday, November 23, 2009 10:40 AM by cstanton | with no comments
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In a Canadian lab, a research team has developed a phaser gun capable of paralyzing its targets...... which happen to be some really small transparent worms.

The Canadians don't quite have it down like Star Trek yet, but by feeding the worms dithienylethene, a photochromic substance like the stuff that's in those cool glasses that get tinted in the sun, and then shining a high powered ultraviolet light on them they can paralyze and turn the worms blue. This really is only happening because the dithienylethene solution changes its molecular shape when exposed to ultraviolet light.

When the researchers shone a regular light on the worms, they were able to move again, since the dithienylethene had changed back to the form that the worms had consumed it in. The method may be used medically, but there are not even any speculations on what it may be any good for.

In all honesty, the experiment is not all that conclusive. They can paralyze worms by feeding them something that changes inside of them. Its interesting that it is triggered by light, but people have been popping pigeons with alka seltzer before I was born.

Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 2:24 PM by cstanton | with no comments
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Here are a couple of awesome panda escape videos. Pandas are really funny, especially when they're escaping.

 

The panda uses his friend as a distraction and then books it... right into the alligator enclosure.

This little panda uses his friend's back to hop out of jail, leaves his poor little buddy behind.
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 11:41 AM by cstanton | 1 comment(s)
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Three men have been arrested by Russian police for suspicion of having beaten and stabbed a 25 year old man to death with hammers and knives in the city of Perm, Russia, 720 miles east of Moscow.

 

The investigation began when dismembered parts of a body started showing up near a bus station in Perm. As the investigation progressed it was uncovered that these vagrants had not only killed this man, but had chopped up his body and eaten part of it, and sold other parts to a local kebab shop where it would be made into pies and kebabs.

"After carrying out the crime, the corpse was divided up: part was eaten and part was also sold to a kiosk selling kebabs and pies," said the Prosecuter-General's head investigative unit for the Perm region.

 

It is really sad, and also demented. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel too bad for the homeless men, but it is sad that the three of these men, all three with criminal records, were so unemployable and unapproachable that they resorted to cannibalism. I wonder if they did it to fill some sick urge or whether or not they viewed it simply as survival? Either way, the outcome was horrendous and I hope nobody gets that hungry around me. 

Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 10:47 AM by cstanton | 1 comment(s)
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I have been pretty sick for about a week now, but this made me feel better.

The Japanese have done it again. One upped us lazy americans with our lethargic Segways with their even more lazy Honda U3-X, a new innovation in personal transportation. The U3-X looks more like a boombox than a.... well I can't explain it in lucid terms, but it is essentially a transportation device. It is basically a 20 pound self-balancing unicycle with Honda's omni-directional wheel system equipped to it. The omni-directional wheel drive system is made up of a series of small wheels inline in the shape of a larger wheel. The large wheel is responsible for the forward and backward movement and the smaller wheels are accountable for the side to side.

Using technology from Honda's ASIMO robot, the U3-X is able to detect changes in weight shift and changes its directional path to counterbalance. By leaning, the rider can steer the U3-X forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally.  

Although still a concept, I thought it was pretty neat that the concept Honda EV-N car has a spot right in the door for it.

Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2009 10:06 AM by cstanton | with no comments
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One of the last exclusive luxuries available to XBox 360 owners is about to be wiped away as Sony has confirmed a deal with Netflix to allow PS3 users to browse the Netflix Watch Instantly database from their consoles.

It won't be quite as easy as on the XBox when it is first released, since the Netflix disc must be in the system until an update scheduled in 2010.

Right now, any PS3 owner with a Netflix account can go HERE to enter their e-mail so that Netflix will let them know when the disc is available. Once on the list, a copy of the disc will be mailed whenever the service is available. It seems like a pretty inefficient way to get the data out there when the system could just incorporate it in a regular firmware update, but it doesn't seem like Netflix minds sending out millions of discs.... just another day.

According to Netflix in an interview with Joystiq, PS3 users will have the same access as any of the Xbox users, a "Watch Instantly" queue of movies selected by the user as well as access to a few different genres and categories such as Documentary, Comedy, Drama, New Releases, etc.

Basically the only negative that the PS3 has with the Netflix application is that a disc must be inserted whenever you want to watch a movie, and that negative is going to be removed in less than a year when the firmware update comes out. The only advantage the XBox has is that you don't have to burn the 2 extra calories getting up and replacing the disc, which means that you can sit on the couch for a longer period of time before hopping up for sustenance. Really, you can't play games and watch movies at the same time anyway, so there's really not much of a difference... except I guess the PS3 user can't be quite as slothlike as the XBox user.

My friend and roommate just decided he was going to trade in his XBox because of the Netflix partnership with Sony. I personally wouldn't do that because I love some of the XBox exclusive games....... and I don't really have to think about it because I don't own a PS3 :), but I'm sure he's not the only one with this thinking.

To be completely honest, you can already stream Netflix to your PS3, and ESPN, CBS, YouTube, and CNN... but you have to purchase a program called Play On

Posted Tuesday, November 3, 2009 11:30 AM by cstanton | with no comments
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Marvel has teamed up with Panelfly and has developed an application that allows you to download comics to your iPhone or iPod Touch!

The application is available on iTunes for $2, and each one of the comics has a different price, but averages out to be about $3/comic. There are some free comics available, but what's so awesome about it is the selection.

Marvel's X series is currently available with titles including Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, Captain America, Marvel Zombies, Z-23 and X-Men: Age of Apocalypse.
Many more titles will be coming to the store within the application.

The reader allows you to zoom in and out, switch layouts, and has an autoread feature that scrolls automatically to the next line that needs to be read. Its really quite fluid and looks easy to use... You'll see in the demo.

The app also allows users to rate each publication, browse through suggested reading, and share what you've done with the application on social networks such as facebook and twitter.

Unfortunately at this point the application is only available in the U.S., but you never know, if it gets popular it might make its way over to europe.

Here's the demo from Panelfly

Posted Monday, November 2, 2009 3:24 PM by cstanton | with no comments
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