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Monthly Archives: November 2008

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make A Clock

By Evan Ackerman

I like lemonade. I like it a lot, in fact. But if there’s one thing that lemonade absolutely sucks at, it’s telling you what time it is. So next time you find yourself with some spare lemons, chop them up and stick them onto the Citrus Clock. The clock is made with two spikes of copper and zinc to impale the lemons on, and will run for a week using the juice contained in one lemon thanks to black magic electrolysis. It doesn’t have to be a lemon, either… Anything acidic will do. Like limes. Or potatoes. Or a battery.

The Citrus Clock doesn’t seem to be commercially available, but hey, you can make one at home! Or better yet, just go to any middle school science fair and steal one.

Citrus Clock ] VIA [ Core77 ]

Sprig Toys Are Eco-Friendly And Kid-Powered

Sprig Toys (Image courtesy Sprig)
By Andrew Liszewski

While I find the trend kind of disappointing, it seems the only way you can sell toys to kids these days is by including some kind of electronic light & sound feature. And that of course means the toy also needs batteries, and is immediately at risk of being ignored once those batteries die. But a company called Sprig has come up with a line of rugged toy trucks and vehicles complete with sounds and lights that not only don’t require batteries, but are eco-friendly as well.

The toys are molded from a product called ‘Sprigwood’ which is a kid-friendly, bio-composite material made from recycled wood and reclaimed plastic. And the material is colored when it’s produced, so the toys don’t feature any decorative paint, but are still bright and colorful. Each vehicle has a different off-road theme that is accompanied with custom sounds and LED lights, but they use a push-and-pump-action to harness a child’s endless supply of energy which powers the electronic components.

And while many eco-friendly toys also come with outrageous price tags, the Sprig vehicles are actually quite reasonable, ranging in price from about $20 for the Rally Racer and Baja Scout, and up to $50 for the larger Discover Rig.

[ Sprig Toys ] VIA [ Coolest Gadgets ]

X-Ray Vision Camera Lens Doesn’t Require You To Collect Bazooka Joe Wrappers

X-ray Vision Camera Lens (Images courtesy David Steele Enterprises Inc.)
By Andrew Liszewski

It seems the dream of x-ray vision is no longer limited to the back pages of comic books, Popular Science, or Bazooka Joe premium catalogs. For just $199 from you can pick up this basic IR filter that attaches to most camcorders (it comes in 30mm and 58mm sizes) allowing you to become that creepy guy who’s always shooting video at the beach. Here’s how and why it works according to the site:

The theory behind how it works is really simple. Many types of clothing allow light and infrared light to pass through the fabric. This light is reflected back through the clothing, off the skin, to our naked eyes. What we normally see is both the reflected normal light mixed with the Infrared light. The lens filters the normal light out, leaving only the Infrared light and some other ambient light waves. The result…the clothing (and many other materials) become as clear as glass.

But I’m sure anyone who actually buys one of these lenses intends to use it for scientific purposes only. At least that’s the story they’ll want to stick to when they’re eventually being cross-examined.

[ X-ray Vision Camera Lens ]

Lenovo Laptops To Get Disable By Text Message Feature

Lenovo Thinkpad X300 (Image courtesy ThePCWeb)
By Andrew Liszewski

Come 2009, Lenovo will be adding a new feature to their ThinkPad notebooks called ‘Lenovo Constant Secure Remote Disable’ that was co-developed with Phoenix Technologies. The new feature works with the ThinkPad’s BIOS to allow a user to disable their notebook by sending an SMS text message from their phone, in the event that it’s been stolen or lost. Once the command is sent, the ThinkPad will immediately shutdown, or will be disabled the next time it’s powered on. And if and when the notebook is retrieved, the user can simply restore their data and functionality via a private ‘resurrection code’.

Unfortunately the downside to the new feature is that it requires the laptop to have a WAN card installed with an active data plan, and it must be in range of the user’s GSM network for the shutdown signal to be received. And I have no idea if this feature will come standard on future ThinkPads, or if it will be an add-on option.

[ eWeek – Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Will Use Text Messages for Additional Security ] VIA
[ Slashdot ]

Fan-Made Mega Man Trailer Will Blow You Away

This post is syndicated with permission from

How many times have you watched a movie based off of a popular video game franchise, only to be rewarded with a steaming pile of crap? My guess is just about any time you’ve seen a Uwe Boll film. Sure, there have been a few good video game flicks here and there but rarely do I ever get too excited over one (though the Tetris movie sounds riveting). However, this Mega Man fan flick actually looks pretty cool.

Sure, I don’t have a lot of faith in the big robot battles being all that great, but you have to admit that this looks incredible. For a fan film not designed to actually bring in any cash, they’ve obviously put a lot of time and effort into this thing. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there’s a little more behind this than were being told, but either way, color me impressed.

[ MegaManFilm ] VIA [ GamerFront ]

Tiny Wristband Promises Better Sleep Through Acupuncture

By Luke Anderson

I, much like many other people in the world, have trouble sleeping at night. No, I’m not the CEO of a large bank that’s ruined the financial lives of many Americans while still raking in an enormous salary (zing!), I just have a hard time falling asleep and staying that way. I’ve seen a couple of doctors and tried a few different sleeping pills without much effect. I’ve been like this since I was a kid, so I’m pretty sure it’s not something that’s going away any time soon. However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t still try a new gadget or two that promises to make me sleep better.

This Sleep Partner wristband promises to help you fall asleep by reducing stress and resetting your body’s internal clock (for those with jet lag). It “stimulates the acupuncture points of the wrist associated with sleep”, which sounds a little strange, but for around $30, I’d probably give it a shot.

[ Expert Verdict ] VIA [ Dvice ]

Coffee Cup Inspired Power Inverter Sits Perfectly In Your Car

By Luke Anderson

I purchased my first car power inverter a good five or six years ago so that I could run my laptop while driving my car over long distances. This, coupled with an auxiliary input on my CD player meant that I had my entire music library, or a movie at my fingertips. (I’d just listen to the movie, I wouldn’t actually attempt to watch it, mind you.) Granted, nowadays iPods are much cheaper, and we have portable DVD players for movie watching, however, power inverters still come in handy. Finally, someone has realized that a clunky box does not sit well in a car, so they’ve created one that fits perfectly in your cup holder.

The logo on that inverter looks really familiar, but I can’t seem to put my finger on it (cough, Starbucks, cough). Other than it’s unique shape, there really isn’t much to tell about this little gadget. It’s good for 200 Watts and gives you two AC plugs and a single USB port. So long as you aren’t trying to run anything too power-hungry it’ll be worth the $30 for the convenience factor.

Frequency inverters nowadays come in a wide variety of sizes & powers which can be confusing if you are considering purchasing one for your needs. Most commonly people prefer portable inverters that are compact yet powerful enough to fulfill all their travelling needs such as charging laptops, mobiles, tablets, etc. It is highly recommended to prefer inverters that are produced by top rating frequency inverter manufacturer

[ Think Geek ] VIA [ GeekAlerts ]

Jonathan Keats’ Alternate Universe Kits

Jonathan Keats' Alternate Universe Kits (Image courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’re not familiar with some of the theories related to quantum mechanics, this alternate universe kit by Jonathan Keats’ might not make much sense to you. But take my word for it, there is some logic here. Way back in 1957, a physicist by the name of Hugh Everett came up with what is known as the ‘many-worlds interpretation’ of quantum mechanics, where the universe continually spawns off alternate universes whenever a “subatomic system consisting of a superposition of two likely states reduces to just one.” In a very crude way of thinking about it, if in your universe you decided to order pizza, another universe is created where you ordered Chinese instead. So based on Hugh’s theory, Jonathan Keats created these alternate universe kits, and here’s how they work according to him:

Everett’s theory addressed the question of how a subatomic particle can exist in a quantum superposition – for example being in two places at once – until someone observes it, at which point the observer finds it to be in only one place at a time. The explanation Everett gave is that the particle remains in both places when it’s observed, but the observer’s entire universe splits as the measurement is made, so that from that moment forward there are two separate observers living in separate universes, both identical except for the observed location of that single subatomic particle.

The kit uses a quarter-inch sphere of uranium-doped glass to provide a steady supply of subatomic particles, placed in close proximity to a sliver of scintillating crystal which measures the radioactive decay, effectively observing a quantum process – and splitting the universe.

The DIY kits are available for just $20, but you can only get them from the Modernism Gallery in San Francisco. And if Hugh Everett’s many-worlds interpretation theory has piqued your curiosity, I recommend checking out an episode of NOVA that ran a couple of months ago called Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives where musician Mark Everett (Hugh’s son) goes on a quest to learn more about his father and his multiple universe theory.

[ – Universe Kits Now Available From Jonathon Keats ] VIA [ New Scientist Short Sharp Science Blog ]

Wild West Gun Slinger Shooting Gallery – “My Cans! My Precious Antique Cans!”

Wild West Gun Slinger (Image courtesy Maplin Electronics)
By Andrew Liszewski

Sure it’s cool to see someone literally mow-down a target with one of those helicopter mini-guns in the movies, but it just doesn’t have the same charm as watching someone clear a saloon with a classic wild west revolver. And I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that your office wouldn’t be too keen with you recreating a scene from Unforgiven with a real piece, so if you’ve got an itchy trigger finger and a few minutes to kill at work, you might want to opt for this Wild West Gun Slinger shooting gallery instead.

The gun uses an infrared beam which has considerably less kick than real ammunition, but it compensates with electronic gun and target ricochet sounds which I’m sure sound exactly like the real thing. And it comes with a faux wood log where you can set up the included cans and bottles that actually scatter and shatter when hit.

The whole setup is available from Maplin Electronics for about $36.

[ Wild West Gun Slinger ]