For the last few months, a clip from the Charlie
Chaplain movie "'The Circus," filmed in 1928, has been somewhat viral within the
techie world because it includes a short segment where there appears to be a strolling
woman talking on a cellphone. Of course, that cannot be what she is doing, cant
it? It sure does appear like she's talking on a phone. Only a very few explanations
are possible. 1: She is a space alien amongst the human population. 2: She is merely
an early adopter of oblivion-like behavior. 3: (and this is the most likely) She
is part of a vast government conspiracy that has had advanced technology for decades
and unintentionally walked into a movie shoot, thereby exposing the devious scheme.
I will be filing a Freedom of Information Act request later today.
US Navy engineers at the SPAWAR System Center
Pacific has developed a technology that uses the magnetic induction properties of
sodium chloride (salt) in sea water to create a VHF antenna. Sea water is pumped
from the ocean into a stream and the width and length of the stream determine the
frequency capabilities. An 80-foot-high stream could transmit and receive from 2
to 400 MHz with a relatively small footprint. The Sea Water Antenna is capable of
transmitting and receiving VHF signals and has been tested at a receiving range
of over 30 miles. The antennae needs of a typical Navy vessel with 80 metallic antennas
could theoretically be replaced with only 10 Sea Water Antennas of varying heights
and streams to cover the same frequencies.
Graphene and its biggest celebrity, the carbon nanotube, has been
a huge headliner ever since a couple
Nobel-winning lab rats discovered they could create copious amounts of graphene
by peeling apart a couple pieces of Scotch tape. Prior to that, obtaining the single
atomic layer of graphene had been quite difficult. Carbon nanotubes, stronger than
steel and lighter than aluminum, are the new wonder product being used in electronics,
mechanics, and medicine. Toxicologists, however, are concerned that they might also
be the next asbestos since their similarity to asbestos in shape makes it difficult
for the lungs to remove once inhaled. Fortunately, we know to study the potential
dangers of nanotechnology during its development phase... not as a crisis response
to devastatingly widespread deployment.
It evidently wasn't enough to disgrace the
world's most advanced smartphones to handfuls of powder in a household
blender. Now we have someone
barbequing them on a grill to see which will function longest when exposed to a
flame. Although it could be argued that the temperature distribution is not controlled,
and that the flames appear to be skewed somewhat to the left from a slight breeze,
overall it probably is a fair indicator of survivability. An iPhone 4, an Android
G2 and an HTC Surround vie for the title of most likely to give its owner one final
phone call from the afterlife if he/she winds up in... that hot place. Which won?
You'll have to watch the video.
Space: The Final
Frontier... but it's not just for rocket scientists anymore. With increasing frequency,
amateurs are managing to launch platforms bearing payloads of cameras, GPS units,
altimeters, thermometers, radios, cellphones, along with various and sundry other
gizmos into the lower atmosphere where the earth's curvature and the blackness of
space is readily apparent. This flight by father and son team Luke and Max Geissbuhler
was launched from a field in New York an amazingly simple craft. It was a resounding
success with an ascent to 100,000', then a parachute descent into a tree just 25
miles away. The camera rolled up until just the last 2 minutes. Here is an idea
for some budding entrepreneur: Create a line of amateur space exploration kits with
varying degrees of complexity. My guess is that it would catch on like the model
rocketry craze of the 1960 space race era! You can cut me in on the profits for
supplying the idea.
Did you know that for a while back in the
2005-2008 timeframe, Dilbert creator Scott Adams lost the ability to draw legibly
and to speak intelligibly? It began with a tremor in a finger on his right hand
and eventually took even his ability to speak.
Dysphonia was diagnosed as the culprit. He switched to drawing Dilbert with
his left hand until the tremor migrated there, too. Because of the unsteady hands,
Adams had to adapt to drawing on a digitizing tablet rather than with a pencil.
He selected the Cintiq 21UX
from Wacom Technology, using Photoshop software. This video shows the master at
work. Mercifully, a combination of surgery and therapy has mostly restored his abilities.
Here is a really cool demo showing the distribution
of microwaves inside a kitchen microwave oven. Experimenter Zeke Kossover drilled
an array of holes in an acrylic panel, into which he inserted neon bulbs. Per Zeke,
"Microwaves are invisible, so you can't see them inside microwave oven, but their
presence can be detected with neon lamps. The changing electromagnetic field from
the microwaves will make charged particles move, and so the electrons in the metal
legs will move creating current. This current makes the lamps glow." You can see
how the field changes as the panel rotates, and also how the presence of a substance
that absorbs the energy affects the pattern.
Here are some highlights from the Inaugural
(2010) U.S. Science and Engineering Festival. High tech industry leaders like Lockheed
Martin CEO Ray Johnson and Ernó Rubik['s cube] are there to promote an effort to
get America's kids interested in science, math, and engineering. Einstein reincarnate
even makes a pitch. Entrepreneur
Larry Bock states that in building his businesses, he couldn't find enough qualified
American workers to fill positions and had to look overseas. Warning flags have
been up for two decades, so no one is surprised. Now, with the help of our massive
export of technology knowledge and equipment, China and India are dominating the
field. Scan through the Engineering News archives from RF Cafe and see how almost
daily there are stories of companies transferring technology overseas. We have dug
our own grave for the sake of short-term profit and a fear of being called protectionists.
At 1,730 ft (527 m) to the tip of the highest
antenna, the Sears tower is the tallest building in the U.S. If the navigation warning
light burns out there, you take the elevator up to about 1,500 ft., then climb the
remaining couple hundred feet up the tower and replace the bulb - piece of cake,
right? It's usually not that easy. The two guys in this video filmed their climb
to the very top of this free-standing, 1,786-foot tower in order to replace its
bulb. They latch in safety hooks during rest stop, but climb freely in-between;
stops become more frequent near the top. You have to be in pretty good physical
condition to do this work - which in this case is akin to crawling uphill on your
hands and knees for ½ km. According to the narration, the visible horizon is 55
miles away at the top.
New York City's David Brooks, owner of "Just
Bulbs," had his shop featured in the November 2010 edition of IEEE Spectrum.
Mr. Brooks is a recovering lawyer who gave up the vice many years ago to assume
command of his family's business. Brooks' father started by peddling light bulbs
during WWII when maintaining bulbs in the Empire State Building. This video was
made to accompany the original article, "Last Hurrah for Banned Bulbs," which is
on the IEEE Xplore website. Almost every imaginable kind of bulb is available -
about 45,000 different types crammed into a 1,000 sq. ft. shop. It is your #1 shopping
spot for bulbs in vintage equipment like projectors or appliances. Expect to pay
a couple hundred dollars for really hard to find bulbs. Just Bulbs has plenty of
those incandescent bulbs that Thomas Edison plotted to destroy the earth with, but
it also stocks all manner of modern technology like fluorescent and LED bulbs. I
would not want to pay his electric bill.
America has lost world's lead in, among other
topics, supercomputers, optical telescopes, particle accelerators, and manned space
flight, to mention just a few newsmakers of the last many months. One area in which
we still dominate is sensor system technology, as demonstrated here in this video
from Northrop Grumman. Shown in the animation are the amazing capabilities of the
AN/APG-81 AESA radar for the F-35 (I love the wheel coming off the truck). The level
of situational awareness is phenomenal, and illustrates how the state of the art
has advanced to where human pilots cannot fully exploit the ability of automated
systems. Few people can assimilate and process such a large amount of real-time
data as presented by a computer. The Air Force is already planning for pilotless
fighter aircraft in the near future - consider what the UAV squadrons are already
accomplishing in reconnaissance and strike roles. Of course, since politicians continue
to write laws that permit the sale or free transfer of our technology - military
or otherwise - any lead is in constant peril.
transfer is a big deal these days. This video from Intel labs shows an Intel engineer
demonstrating his setup for transferring energy from a primary coil to a secondary
coil located a couple feet away. The fundamentals aren't rocket science; this is
basically a loosely coupled transformer that relies on mutual coupling of magnetic
fields to move power from one place to the other. The trick is making the system
highly efficient with small coil sizes. Consider the challenge of merely transferring
low power data via near field communications (NFC) with coils the size
of a cell phone cover.
Texas Instruments and other companies are rushing to provide development platforms
for contactless charging systems that are expected to eventually replace the wall
wart world of chargers.