Dennis Sellers’ Apple-related predictions for 2016: Macs, OS X — The iMac will, of course, be revved with faster Skylake processors and get updated graphics (sorry, but no 8K display). I don’t expect the basic design to change (can Apple make it any thinner?). iMacs will continue to ship with either Fusion or flash drives. However, expect this to be the final year for the former. In 2017, all Macs will come only in flash drive models. I also think we’ll see Lightning and USB-C connectivity come to the all-in-one. And there’s more… he covers wireless charging, WiFi, the Mac Pro and more.
Apple & Foxconn consuming 30-40% of Tainergy’s growing solar cell production — Apple’s effort to convert suppliers over to renewable energy is resulting in it, along with partner Foxconn, consuming 30 to 40% of Tainergy Tech’s solar cell production in China, according to Tainergy president Kevin Hsieh.
Whink review: full-featured, easy to use writing app hits all the right notes — Whink is a note-taking app equally proficient at handwriting and typing. The universal app features fast, automatic backup and sync via iCloud, so notebook content is available from whatever iOS device you happen to be using at the moment.
Pluto has a blue sky — NASA just released its first colour view of those planetary hazes they have been so curious about. And, it turns out that, just like Earth, Pluto has bright blue skies arching overhead. The blue tint tells us about the size and composition of the haze particles in its atmosphere. ~ Some may have been hoping for Purple Haze.
Planetary Habitability Index — Researchers at the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory have devised a new habitability index for judging how suitable alien planets might be for life. The point of the exercise is to help scientists prioritise future targets for close-ups from NASA’s yet-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope and other instruments. ~ Meanwhile, we’re lowering our own.
How to message aliens — Our devices interface extremely well with humans but might not be very good modes of communication for an Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. If alien life did pick up our broadcasts or space probes the relatively narrow-range of audio (narrow and low frequency), visual (slow refresh rate), and data transmission methods we use may make no sense to non-human entities. It’s therefore interesting to think of other ways we might communicate with beings of fundamentally different biology. ~ ‘We’re scary, unpredictable and violent, especially against our own kind and against anything we do understand, and against our own planet, but please don’t nuke us.’ Good luck with that.
Simulating a universe on computer — The EAGLE Project is trying to simulate a universe inside a supercomputer. Housed at the University of Durham in the UK, is trying to understand how galaxies form and evolve. It starts using the basic information gleaned from cosmic microwave background by the Planck satellite, and then lets gravity ‘work its magic from there’. ~ Wait till they find the one actually running our universe.
The port of Los Angeles had such a successful tech upgrade it’s already hitting its 2023 emission goals — Ports are responsible for some of the nastiest air pollution in major cities. The air was so bad from diesel-burning container ships as well as the trucks required to move the containers away from the port of LA that the surrounding neighbourhood of San Pedro sued LA, launching a highly publicised public health battle. In 2005 a series of strict environmental reforms planned to cap emissions at 2001 levels, something that was called impossible at the time. But ten years later, LA did it. ~ It has giant charging stations so container ships can ‘plug in’ to electrical power instead of burning more diesel in the port.
Wind power now the cheapest energy in the UK and Germany — Wind power has now crossed the threshold to become the cheapest source of energy in both the UK and Germany. This is the first time it has occurred in a G7 country. In the US, wind and solar are still massively overshadowed by the power generated from fossil fuel plants, but the percentage is creeping up. ~ No subsidies required.
Princess making solar waves in Africa — Many people living in Africa need electricity. Luckily, something of a solar power revolution is afoot in Africa, triggering a wave of innovation from solar energy entrepreneurs. One of them is a princess (descended from an ancient Mossi warrior princess) who stresses that the best way to combat this problem is by empowering the people to educate and help themselves. ~ Goodbye to top-down solutions, which only really benefit the top.
France plans to bury its carbon emissions. Literally — At a March 2015 conference on Climate Smart Agriculture, Le Foll proposed the ambitious target of increasing French soil carbon contents by 0.4% year-on-year (“4 pour mille”). How France will meet the target is currently unclear but Le Foll clearly wants to stimulate French farmers and researchers into action. ~ And then you can’t see the problem.
Tactics for Happier Living quiz —This quiz combines a number of scientifically valid scales for measuring happiness. These measurements are then used to generate a highly detailed and customised report with concrete suggestions for how you can live a happier life. It also includes your greatest strengths and weakness as it relates to your score, and compares it to population averages. ~ I’m happy. Or deluded. Either way, all good.
DNA survives critical entry into Earth’s atmosphere — The genetic material DNA can survive a flight through space and re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere – and still pass on genetic information. A team of scientists from UZH obtained these astonishing results during an experiment on the TEXUS-49 research rocket mission. ~ DNAlien, anyone?
Scientists develop ‘paint’ to help cool the planet — Engineers at Stanford University have developed an ultrathin, multilayered, nanophotonic material that not only reflects heat away from buildings but also directs internal heat away using a system called “photonic radiative cooling.” The coating can reflect away 97% of incoming sunlight. When combined with the photonic radiative cooling system it becomes cooler than the surrounding air by around 9F (5C). The material is designed to radiate heat away into space at a precise frequency that allows it to pass through the atmosphere without warming it. ~ And so it shall pass from Global Warming to Space Warming. Expect an angry missive from the Intergalactic Hegemony soon after.
Large scale solar farm under construction — Large-scale solar plants are monstrous construction projects that cover hundreds or thousands of acres of land in photovoltaic goodness. This amazing video shows how they go from concept to reality. ~ And what of the land beneath? What happens to the eco-system?
Scotland renewable energy milestone — Thanks to a combination of wind, solar and hydroelectric, along with less-publicized sources such as landfill gas and biomass, Scotland produced 10.3TWh in the first half of 2014, which is more than it generated the dirty way. ~ Crikey, if you can do it there …
Magnifying spoon — Object Solutions’ Magnifying Spoon lets you inspect your meal up close before you eat. Designed by Ernesto D Morales, Carlos Maldonado and Juan Pablo Viedma, there’s a good chance you’ll offend the proprietor of wherever you’re dining when you pull out the Magnifying Spoon, but that’s a small price to pay if it means you don’t end up with a disgusting spoonful of bugs, cigarette ash or coriander. ~ Shame it doesn’t actually make some meals bigger.
Brain switch turns off pain — Scientists working together from several international universities have discovered it is possible to block a pathway in the brain of animals suffering from neuropathic pain, which could have a huge impact on improving pain relief in humans.
A chemical stimulator called adenosine binds to brain receptors to trigger a biological response, and has shown potential for killing pain in humans. ~ I’ll wait for the app.
Antikythera Mechanism older than previously thought — As if the freakishly advanced Antikythera Mechanism wasn’t astounding enough, a new analysis suggests the astronomical device is older than archaeologists assumed. ~ Genius that hasn’t aged.
Largest stone block discovered — German archaeologists working at Baalbek in Lebanon have uncovered the largest known ancient block. The fully exposed block (main picture, to the right) , which dates back to around 27 BC, is located in a stone quarry at the site of the ancient Heliopolis in Lebanon. ~ The stone was unmoved at its discovery.
More accurate seafloor maps thanks to satellites — Using data from satellites that measure variations in Earth’s gravitational field, researchers have found a new and more accurate way to map the sea floor. The improved resolution has already allowed them to identify previously hidden features including thousands of extinct volcanoes more than 1000 meters tall, as well as piece together some lingering uncertainties in Earth’s ancient history. ~ It’s triumph of multiple pings.
So much ice gone, Earth’s gravity has been affected — The European Space Agency has been measuring gravity for four years, mapping variations and recording the changes those variations have undergone. Its data indicates “a significant decrease [in gravity] in the region of Antarctica where land ice is melting fastest. ~ They thought that only happened in oil barons’ Pina Coladas.
A particle that’s also its own antiparticle — In 1937, an Italian physicist predicted the existence of a single, stable particle that could be both matter and antimatter. Nearly 80 years later, a Princeton University research team has actually found it. ~ They should call it the Mussolini Particle — both the agent of change and its now destruction.
Ultrasmall organic laser — Researchers have made the tiniest organic laser reported so far: an 8-micrometer-long, 440-nanometer-wide device which looks like a suspended bridge riddled with holes. It’s carved into a silicon chip coated with an organic dye. Integrated into microprocessors, such tiny lasers could one day speed up computers by shuttling data using light rather than electrons. ~ The light at the end of the chipset.
Mesh solar cell is also a battery —Researchers at Ohio State have announced a breakthrough in solar energy technology that stands to revolutionise the industry. It’s a mesh solar cell that also stores electricity. The new hybrid device runs on light and oxygen, storing electricity with the help of a simple chemical reaction. The best part is that it brings down the cost of a standard solar cell by 25%. ~ Cheaper is better, so we’re less subject to the power monopolies.
Tiny emergency torch glows for 72 hours after you add water — Batteries have a limited shelf life, so any torch you’ve been saving for an emergency might not actually work when you need it. But these tiny emergency lights from Eton simply need you to add water to keep them lit for three full days. They cost US$10 each (main picture). ~ Water torch – yeah!
Ebola vaccine delay may be due to an Intellectual Property dispute — For the past six weeks, about 800 to 1000 doses of an experimental ebola vaccine have been sitting in a Canadian laboratory instead of being dispensed to West Africa. The delay, it would now appear, may be on account of an intellectual property spat. ~ I am SO disgusted by this!
Spaceship flying 402.3 million kilometres away from Earth — Above is a photo of a spaceship flying 402.3 million kilometres away from Earth. It’s Rosetta, floating in the black vacuum of space, photographed by its Philae daughtership, a lander that will soon arrive to the object on the background, the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ~ Let’s hope it leaves no space-stone unturned.
And now it knows where to land — Site J is the area chosen for its unique scientific potential and minimum risk to the lander. Choosing a landing site was not easy. Comet Churymov-Gerasimenko’s strange, rubber ducky-like shape has presented a host of operational challenges. ~ You’d think the Churymov-Gerasimenkians would have rolled out the red carpet, after all that trouble.
Ant-sized radios —Radios made of silicon and measuring a few millimeters each have been developed by researchers at Stanford University. You can fit dozens of them on a penny and the good news is that they’re dirt cheap to manufacture. ~ I had no idea ants listened to the radio. at least they can carry these ones instead of just having to live inside them.
Nanobeads to sweep your blood — Scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have created what is essentially an artificial spleen. The device made of wire and plastic may not resemble the fleshy organ in our bodies, but its series of blood channels mimics the microarchitecture of spleens.
Blood passing through these channels encounters magnetic nanobeads coated with a protein called mannose-binding lectin (MBL), a natural immune protein that binds to the surfaces of bacteria, viruses, fungi, pathogen, and toxins. ~ So far only labtest animals are getting the benefits.
The 1960s TV Series UFO predicted today’s cutting-edge military tech — This classic TV show created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson had its share of late-’60s, early-’70s schlock, such as military officers whose mini-skirt uniforms included purple wigs. But U.F.O also had strong characters, nuanced plots and extremely cool technology that, in retrospect, was decades ahead of its time. ~ And the cars!
Solar tech enhances oil recovery — Glasspoint Solar Inc installs aluminium mirrors near oil fields to concentrate solar radiation on insulated tubes containing water. The steam generated from heating the water is injected into oil fields to recover heavy crude oil. Royal Dutch Shell has invested heavily into this.
~ Cynical or what?!
Exoskeleton pants — Exoskeletons that give you superhuman strength sound incredibly awesome but also look incredibly awkward and bulky and uncomfortable. So what about a soft exoskeleton that you wear like a pair of pants?
Harvard researchers recently won a DARPA grant of up to $US2.9 million to develop the Soft Exosuit – so far, it’s created a proof-of-concept suit that resembles black leggings, threaded with cables and attached to a bulky battery pack at the waist. ~ Also excellent for extended dancing sessions.
Europeans came from three ancestry groupings — A recent study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of Tübingen in Germany has found that present day Europeans are descendants of three different groups of people: a near-eastern farmer group, an indigenous hunter-gatherer group, and an ancient North Eurasian group from Siberia. ~ In my case it was mum, dad and, er …
Cygnus-class resupply ship Janice Voss entering the Earth’s atmosphere on August 17 by Alexander Gerst
Star that exploded at the dawn of time — To probe the dawn of time, astronomers usually peer far away; but now they’ve made a notable discovery close to home. An ancient star a mere thousand light-years from Earth bears chemical elements that may have been forged by the death of a star that was both extremely massive and one of the first to arise after the big bang. If confirmed, the finding means that some of the universe’s first stars were so massive they died in exceptionally violent explosions that altered the growth of early galaxies. ~ Big, big bangs.
Modular hive home for Mars — In June, JPL and MakerBot were teamed up to host a competition for designing a futuristic Mars base. The competition is now over, and the top three designs have been chosen. First place went to Noah Hornberger, who designed a base with hexagonal rooms and shielding made of depleted uranium. ~ A honey of a house maybe, but I still don’t want to go. And what the hell is a ‘Mud Room’?
Mars rover’s wheel damage — The folks in charge of the Mars rover Curiosity have been trying to solve an increasingly urgent problem: what to do about unexpected wheel damage. ~ It’s a wheel challenge all right.
Crystal-clear solar cells — A team of researchers from Michigan State University has developed a completely transparent, luminescent solar concentrator. Whereas most traditional solar panels collect light energy from the sun using dark silicon cells and converted into electricity using the photovoltaic effect, solar concentrators actually focus sunlight onto a heat engine that produces electricity. ~ Transparent energy, that’s the dream.
Bionic pants is chair you wear — For some people, for example assembly line workers, not having a chair to sit in can actually pose a health hazard. That’s why Noonee developed the Chairless Chair, a chair you wear. ~ Also perfect for quick toilet stops. I just had to show the picture for that one! (below).
Remote-controlled cyborg moths — Research being conducted at North Carolina State University is aimed at converting moths into biobots. ~ Everything looking fine, then a flame appears.
While we’re talking about animal abuse, thermal solar plants have been incinerating birds — Federal investigators in California have requested that BrightSource — owner of thermal solar plants — halt the construction of more (and bigger) plants until their impact on wildlife has been further investigated.
The Ivanpah plant has more than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door. They focus and concentrate solar energy from their entire surfaces upward onto three boiler towers – the solar energy heats the water inside the towers to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes. But the concentrated solar energy chars and incinerates the feathers of passing birds. ~ Ouch.
FarmBot: an open source automated farming machine — Farming has been stuck in a bit of a rut compared to other industries. Businesses across the globe have been innovating for decades, while farming has been using techniques handed down over centuries. The FarmBot Foundation is creating a machine, similar to a CNC mill and/or 3D printer, which is capable of being run by sophisticated software and equipped with tools including seed injectors, plows, burners, robotic arms (for harvesting), cutters, shredders, tillers, discers, watering nozzles, sensors and more. ~ Ee ai ee ai … oh no.
The whitest beetle — One species of beetle looks like it’s been given a lick with a paintbrush — but in fact, the Cyphochilus is covered in paper-thin scales that are brilliant white, and reflect more light than anything of a similar thickness that can be made by humans. ~ And super lightweight, due to ingenious design.
Sick plants could lead to hidden landlines — Land mines are explosive, of course, but also leak toxins into the soil that make plants sick. That’s unfortunate for the plants but fortunate for us if we can figure out how to look for sick plants as indicators of land mines. Aeroplanes equipped with a low-cost sensor that captures non-visible light might be the answer. ~ Or drones. of course.