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Tag Archives: Science

SafeFlame Torch Uses Water As Fuel

safeflame

Propane or acetylene torches are essential tools for an almost endless list of tasks. And while they do their job quite well, they do present a small but not negligible risk since they require containers of highly flammable gas nearby. The SafeFlame torch uses plain water as its fuel instead, along with a healthy dose of electricity. The current electrolyses the water, separating it into oxygen and hydrogen. The system then takes the two gases and doses them in varying proportions to power your flame. This means that by controlling the current and the fuel mixture, the temperature and the length of the flame can be fined tuned to a high degree, ensuring that you never use more heat than is required for the job. Additionally you’ll never have to order, transport, and store flammable gases again, which is that much less to worry about.

Although the product is not on the market yet, it is currently being tested in Europe and should roll out “in the near future”. As for costs, none have been specified but the makers claim they’ve found a way to reduce the need for Platinum, the required catalyst, in order to keep costs down. Whether that means it’ll be affordable, rather than just “not outrageously expensive” remains to be seen.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

High-Tech Beauty: Activate Gadgets With a Wink and a Smile

Conducive Makeup

How you control your devices might soon change, thanks in part to these developments by computer scientist Katia Vega. Instead of actually manipulating your device or using a remote control, Vega envisions that people–specifically those who wear makeup–will be able to unlock or activate their devices by moving a certain part of their face. Not just any part, but parts where specialized makeup has been applied.

Apparently, Vega was able to come up with a method to integrate sensors and conductive elements to makeup. For example, when eyeshadow is applied to both the top and bottom of the person’s eye where metalized lashes have also been affixed, then a longer-than-usual blink will allow the sensors in the eyeshadow and lashes to connect, completing the circuit.

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3D Printed Microscopic Monkey Head Shows Off What Printers Are Capable Of

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We’re not exactly sure how small the monkey skull above is, but we’re fairly certain that each dot that makes up its surface (you can see some granularity on the image) is a little bigger than one quarter of one percent the width of a human hair. That’s small. It’s being shown to you to demonstrate what the machine that printed it is capable of. But then they’re not making monkey skulls to show off, scientists at The University of Texas at Austin are using the tech to print elaborate microscopic scaffolds which are then filled with specific kinds of bacteria, in order to determine the influence that their spacial distribution has on their pathogenecity, or their ability to infect. The structures are created with a laser, which focuses in a special jello-like resin that hardens with heat. At it’s smallest focal point, the laser beam is the size mentioned earlier, and so it creates the structure point by point, layer by layer. That right there is some cool tech, and we’re excited to hear that 3D printers are being used to make more than just fancy iPhone cases.

[ Phys.org ] VIA [ DVice ]

This “Suit” Grows Algae From The Breath You Exhale

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Well you’re unlikely to see anyone out on the street wearing this, but creators Michael Burton and Michiko Nitta hope that just seeing it will get you thinking about food production in the future. See, the Algaculture Symbiosis Suit is seeded with algae which is then fed the CO2 and water vapour that you exhale throughout the day through that freaky looking mouthpiece. Walk around in the sun a bit, and you’ve created the conditions for the growth of food which you could theoretically eat later. The end game here, at least for Burton and Nitta, is a future where we seem to gain some “super-powers”:

It proposes a future where humans will be enhanced with algae living inside new bodily organs, allowing us to be semi-photosynthetic. Almost enabling us to become plant-like by gaining food from light. As such, we will be symbionts (meaning that both entities entirely depend on each other for survival), entering into a mutually beneficial relationship with the algae.

So… that’s what’s in store for the human race? We’re going to be… “plantimals”? That, by the way, is a word coined by scientists Debora MacKenzie and Michael Le Page who wrote about photosynthetic creatures, or what they call “plantimals” in the New Scientist (2010.) Granted, it’s not an exciting superpower, but it certainly is a practical one. Suck it, Bane!

Algae Opera

[ Product Page ] VIA [ DVice ]

Would You Eat This Lab-Grown Burger?

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The burger above is still, essentially, beef. However, it’s not meat from the cows you see out in the pasture; rather, it’s meat that’s been cultured in a Petri dish in a lab. The beef was “grown” by Professor Mark Post and his team at the Maastricht University. Their goal was to develop a humane way to meet the world’s ever-growing meat demands without over-taxing natural resources.

To produce one pound of meat, 2,400 gallons or so of water is required. It’s a more energy-intensive process than, say, cultivating crops, so it requires so much more fossil fuel for a smaller output. Cultured meat is Post’s solution to this, and many people think it’s actually a good idea–including Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin.Continue Reading

You’ll Never Look At Them The Same: This Is What A Mosquito’s Mouthpiece Looking For A Blood Vessel Under Your Skin Looks Like

Squeamish? Please abstain. It’s not as gory or gross a video, as much as it is a disquieting perspective on just what exactly it is that goes on under the skin when a mosquito catches you distracted, and starts to feast. The stunning footage was grabbed by Valérie Choumet at Paris’s Institut Pasteur, where she anaesthetized a mouse, stuck a microscope against a flap of its skin and convinced a mosquito to bite in the right spot. What you see is the insect’s mouthparts probing around, looking for a blood vessel.

The large central needle in the video is actually two parallel tubes—the hypopharynx, which sends saliva down, and the labrum, which pumps blood back up. When a mosquito finds a host, these mouthparts probe around for a blood vessel. They often take several attempts, and a couple of minutes, to find one. And unexpectedly, around half of the ones that Choumet tested failed to do so. While they could all bite, it seemed that many suck at sucking.

We’ll include only this video in the article, but if you’re interested in just what is going on, you should follow the link at the bottom. It leads to a National Geographic article with tons more detail and a couple more vids.

[ National Geographic ]

Biosensor Tattoo Lets Athletes Know When They’ve Reached Their Limits

Biosensor tattoo

Some athletes push themselves so hard that they end up hitting “the wall”, which is when their energy level suddenly dips and they just collapse, exhausted and completely spent. So why does this happen? Well, when a person performs vigorous activity for extended periods, lactate builds up and causes fatigue.

If you’re the type who’s keen on pushing yourself physically, then you might find a lot of use with this lactate-monitoring biosensor tattoo.

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Jupiter Cake Puts The Yum In Nerdalicious

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See? That’s an awful headline. Why? Because it doesn’t make sense. But at the same time, you get the idea. Right?… Anyway, the cake you’re looking at is Cakecrumb’s rendition of Jupiter. We like it because as geeks we’ve found that we’re fond of all things science (as well as tech), so we tend to look up at the skies occasionally, and we read space exploration news when they become available. And while this doesn’t count as space exploration, it does count as a delicious looking reminder that the little rock we inhabit has cousins that are as beautiful to look at as they are inhospitable to life. The multiple layers you see represent a theoretical “core comprised mostly of rock and ice… surrounded by a layer liquid metallic hydrogen, and the outer layer is composed of molecular hydrogen.”

We’ve posted about Cakebrumb’s geeky cakes once before, and we’re sort of starting to become fans. And yes, she does take on commissions, so if you’re really into it, she could make you one.

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[ Product Page ] VIA [ BoingBoing ]

Some Perspective: This Pale Dot Is Us. All Of Us.

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Every little kid born to royalty, every man sitting in a cafe writing the next great American novel, every river full of bear food, every cat, every single thing that makes up humanity… is crammed in those few pixels you see above. That tiny dot, that’s Earth. That’s the picture Cassini took on July 19th, some 900 million miles away, while orbiting Saturn. And it’s sobering. It’s a sobering picture because it gives you a tiny bit of perspective about our great blue planet. How tiny it looks next to the unimaginable interplanetary distances. And yet everything that ever was, anything that ever happened, happened on that dot.

It isn’t particularly easy to picture the Earth from Saturn because it’s often too close to the sun to point sensitive optical instruments at it. But Cassini got lucky here, and took the pic just as the sun was hiding away behind Saturn. And the shot “also marked the first time people on Earth had advance notice their planet’s portrait was being taken from interplanetary distances. NASA invited the public to celebrate by finding Saturn in their part of the sky, waving at the ringed planet and sharing pictures over the Internet. More than 20,000 people around the world participated.”

So yeah, that’s our science break. The picture below? That’s another one, of the Earth next to its moon. Nifty, eh?

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VIA [ NASA ]