Monday, September 24, 2007


A new material made of used chewinggum!

Through intensive material research designer Anna Bullus has invented a new material called Gumnetic. It is a biodegradable composite made from recycled chewed chewing gum and bio resin. Varying ratios of the mixture result in different textures. Making it a versatile material. For instance for the”Gumnetic”; a street side refuse designed for the disposal of gum and is made from recycled chewing gum. The product offers a unique and practical solution to a widespread problem housed within an innovative sustainable process; the bin itself collects raw material in the form of discarded chewing gum from which to produce new bins. Anna has gone on to make other products that explore both the application of this unique material and the sustainability education opportunities it provokes.

via materia

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


WD-2 can make facial expressions that, if possible, are more human-like than some humans can make. WD-2 is short for "Waseda-Docomo face robot 2," and is the most recent version of the face robot developed by researchers from Waseda University in Tokyo led by mechanical engineer Atsuo Takanishi.

According to a recent article at Robot World News, WD-2 may provide insight into the creation of personal robots. In the future, personal robots may serve a multitude of purposes in work and entertainment with humans, and therefore must be able to communicate in a human-like manner.

WD-2 not only makes facial expressions, but changes its facial expressions with nearly the minute detail of a human face. According to the article, "While other robots make expressions that mean ‘happy,' ‘sad,' ‘excited,' or ‘angry,' WD-2 can make tiny movements to reveal a wide spectrum of meanings."

WD-2 changes its facial features by changing 17 specific facial points on a mask, with each point possessing three degrees of freedom, for a total of 56 degrees of freedom. To make certain points of the face move, a shaft is driven behind the mask at the desired facial point, driven by a DC motor with a simple pulley and a slide screw.

According to the article, the researchers say that the mask can be modified to "copy" a human face, even displaying a person's hair style and skin color when a photo of their face is projected onto the 3D mask.

via scifitech

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Thursday, September 13, 2007


The newest line of computers does not require a mouse or a keyboard, just your fingers.

"And when I put my fingers on it, there's a camera that recognizes where I'm touching. In fact, I can touch it different places, from any side of the table. And so it's actually a windows personal computer, but with this new surface capability.

The table-top computers are not only touch-sensitive, they can also recognize devices equipped with wireless or Bluetooth capabilities. Product Director Jeffrey Gattis from microsoft says it also reads credit cards.

"I'm in a Sheraton Hotel, I can take my room key or my Sheraton-preferred card, just throw it down on the surface. It instantly knows who I am. It sees that I have 5,500 points in my account."

It also lets consumers buy music. Place a portable music player on the surface and you can use your fingers to upload music. It is all done without wires.

And digital photos are literally a snap. Gates says the computer recognizes Wi-Fi-equipped cameras and downloads the pictures instantly.

"Any photo I've taken and I want to add to this collection, it can actually see that there's a camera there and it'll use the wireless connection to actually get the photos and bring those down onto the surface."

Software companies have been investing heavily in developing natural interfaces that can be used for practical applications, such as ordering food or drinks. Microsoft Surface Computing General Manager Pete Thompson believes the new technology will make computing easy for anyone, including technophobes.

"One of the things that I'm personally very excited about with surface computers is the fact that it unlocks the power for people that have been intimidated before with computing products. Now this is just "drop-dead" simple. You don't have to know computing to be able to use this product and that is extremely exciting."

But at a cost of between five to ten-thousand dollars per unit, it will be available only to commercial outlets, at least for the time being.

Mr Gates said:
"We used to say a computer on every desktop and now I would say that every desktop will be a computer."

[+jeff han]
[+microsoft surface]

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Similar visually to the mandala images, these are cups of coffee vibrating at (top) and near (bottom) a normal mode frequency - coffee a la mode.

The resonance phenomenon shown in these coffee cup images is similar to Cymatics and Chladni patterns on a circular plate. Although the lines in Chaladni figures are nodes, the bright areas in the coffee images are anti-nodes. (The coffee cups are vibrating at approximately 20Hz).
Is it time for the first cymatics latte art? We think so, let us experiment!

[+ wiki]
via sciencecreativequarterly

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Friday, September 07, 2007


Foam polystyrene is a major environmental concern. It is used as a protective packaging for all sorts of products, but it is not biodegradable. Various manufacturers have experimented in making it more environmentally friendly, for example by incorporating cellulose and starch which microbes can break down, or by adding light-sensitive polymers that degrade in sunlight.

But Shanpu Ya and colleagues at the Polymer Science & Engineering College of Quingdao University of Science & Technology in China say these methods all have serious disadvantages. In particular, it takes too long time for polymers to break down in these ways, they claim.

Instead, they have developed a new approach that involves embedding water-absorbing resin particles about 5 micrometres in diameter throughout a chemical like styrene before it is polymerised to form a polystyrene-like material.

When the resulting solid comes into contact with water, the resin particles expand, reducing the polymer structure to a powder that should then biodegrade. The team says the rate of disintegration can even be controlled by altering the ratio of ingredients.

But a crucial factor, says the team, is that the resulting foamed polystyrene is cheaper than conventional materials and should therefore be readily adopted by cost-conscious companies that also want to be environmentally responsible.

[+ more]
[+ flickr]
via newscientist

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Thursday, September 06, 2007


Sony today announced the development of a bio battery1 that generates electricity from carbohydrates (sugar) utilizing enzymes as its catalyst, through the application of power generation principles found in living organisms.

Test cells of this bio battery have achieved power output of 50 mW, currently the world's highest level2 for passive-type3 bio batteries. The output of these test cells is sufficient to power music play back on a memory-type Walkman.

n order to realize the world's highest power output, Sony developed a system of breaking down sugar to generate electricity that involves efficiently immobilizing enzymes and the mediator (electronic conduction materials) while retaining the activity of the enzymes at the anode. Sony also developed a new cathode structure which efficiently supplies oxygen to the electrode while ensuring that the appropriate water content is maintained. Optimizing the electrolyte for these two technologies has enabled these power output levels to be reached.

Sugar is a naturally occurring energy source produced by plants through photosynthesis. It is therefore regenerative, and can be found in most areas of the earth, underlining the potential for sugar-based bio batteries as an ecologically-friendly energy device of the future.

Sony will continue its development of immobilization systems, electrode composition and other technologies in order to further enhance power output and durability, with the aim of realizing practical applications for these bio batteries in the future.

[+ more]

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CAN plants hear? They all respond to light, which affects how they optimise growth and survival. Plants also have a sense of touch, allowing them to stiffen in response to wind, and a "taste" for nutrients. But whether they respond to sound is a mystery.

Now Mi-Jeong Jeong of the National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology in Suwon, South Korea, and colleagues claim to have identified two genes in rice that respond to sound waves. They also say that the promoter of one of the sound-sensitive genes could be attached to other genes to make them respond to sound too.

The findings follow a host of similar, but unsubstantiated, claims that plants respond to sound. If the researchers are correct, they say their discovery could enable farmers to switch specific crop genes on and off, such as ones for flowering, by blasting sound into the fields.

Though these results "have been greeted with profound scepticism" by other researchers, if the tests can be repeated they'd indicate "that sound could be an alternative to light as a gene regulator."
It's not photosynthesis, then, but audiosynthesis. Geneto-acoustic biology.

[+ more]
via bldgblog

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