Of Interest

things that lifted at least one of our eyebrows


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Imagine taking a time machine back to 1750—a time when the world was in a permanent power outage, long-distance communication meant either yelling loudly or firing a cannon in the air, and all transportation ran on hay. When you get there, you retrieve a dude, bring him to 2015, and then walk him around and watch him react to everything.

It's impossible for us to understand what it would be like for him to see shiny capsules racing by on a highway, talk to people who had been on the other side of the ocean earlier in the day, watch sports that were being played 1,000 miles away, hear a musical performance that happened 50 years ago, and play with my magical wizard rectangle that he could use to capture a real-life image or record a living moment, generate a map with a paranormal moving blue dot that shows him where he is, look at someone's face and chat with them even though they're on the other side of the country, and worlds of other inconceivable sorcery. This is all before you show him the internet or explain things like the International Space Station, the Large Hadron...


Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have found a successful way of identifying bird sounds from large audio collections, which could be useful for expert and amateur bird-watchers alike. The analysis used recordings of individual birds and of dawn choruses to identify characteristics of bird sounds. It took advantage of large datasets of sound recordings provided by the British Library Sound Archive, and online sources such as the Dutch archive called Xeno Canto.


A team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering students have won an EPA student design contest for a device they created that curbs harmful pollutant emitted from lawnmowers by 93 percent.The students developed the device – an "L" shaped piece of stainless steel that attaches to the lawnmower where its muffler was – because small engine devices produce significant harmful emissions.


Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words. The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3-D printer, fits like a ring on the user's finger, equipped with a small camera that scans text.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-07-mit-finger-device-real.html#jCp


An Israeli inventor has created a scanner that he says could change the way we shop and take care of ourselves—by reading the chemical makeup of foods, drugs and other items we use. The tiny gadget is still limited to a few key applications. But creator Dror Sharon envisions a machine that will compile a massive collection of data that will allow users to analyze the physical matter that exists around them.


Sony's advance in image sensors appears quite natural: the company has developed a set of curved CMOS image sensors based on the curvature of the eye. A report on the sensors in IEEE Spectrum said that, "in a bit of biomimicry," Sony engineers were able to achieve a set of curved CMOS image sensors using a "bending machine" of their own construction.



A small team of physicists from the U.S. and Denmark has published a paper in the journal Nature Physics outlining the idea of a collection of atomic clocks located around the world—all networked via entangled particles. They propose that such a system of clocks would be far more accurate than anything that exists today.



A group of scientists believe that a previously unexplained isotopic ratio from deep within the Earth may be a signal from material from the time before the Earth collided with another planet-sized body, leading to the creation of the Moon. This may represent the echoes of the ancient Earth, which existed prior to the proposed collision 4.5 billion years ago.


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This remarkable video captures some clever and determined swallows demonstrating their door-opening talents in a parking garage in Canada. Just in time for Caturday, an incredible video about some very clever and determined swallows that learned how to open the automatic doors to a parking garage...



A Stanford University engineer has figured out a way to wirelessly transfer energy to medical devices.

Why does this matter? Well, the technology may actually lead to electronics that can be used to replace pharmaceutical drugs.



The new study on ctenophores, such as the American comb jelly above, "really shakes up how we think animal complexity evolved." A close look at the nervous system of the gorgeously iridescent animal known as the comb jelly has led a team of scientists to propose a new evolutionary history: one for the comb jelly, and one for everybody else.



KMel Robotics presents a team of flying robots that have taken up new instruments to play some fresh songs. The hexrotors create music in ways never seen before, like playing a custom single string guitar hooked up to an electric guitar amp. Drums are hit using a deconstructed piano action. And there are bells. Lots of bells.



Brilliant work in dynamics and control systems and more hypnotizing than watching Homer Simpson on a treadmill. This is just stunning!


Aside from using curled leaves as mechanical amplifiers, the researchers found that the leaves also worked as a megaphone, increasing the volume of sounds emitted from inside the leaves by 1 to 2 decibels (by focusing the sound as it leaves). They also found that because different sound frequencies were impacted in different ways by the shape of the leaves, bat calls heard inside would be nearly impossible for the hiding bats to distinguish between family, friend or stranger.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-10-amplification.html#jCp



While the ungainly combination of keystrokes might have been a bad approach to rebooting your pc: a slight modification to that sequence is perfect for rebooting your product or business!

So, Bill Gates we salute the so-called "three-finger salute"...then again, we have a dog in the hunt, so to speak.



Kudos to the organizers and welcome to Chicago:

GE Opens GE Garages Manufacturing Fab Lab Space in Chicago

GE and Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) will open a GE Garage--a skill-building center that serves as an advanced manufacturing fab lab for technologists, entrepreneurs, and makers.

The GE Garages space will open September 20 in Chicago and will host a month of free hands-on maker workshops, conduct trainings on high-tech prototyping equipment, and offer learning opportunities through a curated guest speaker series.

The Garages include TechShop technology and were developed in partnership with Skillshare, Quirky, Make, and Inventables. The lab aims to spark interest and greater participation in advanced manufacturing through making. The location will also function as the headquarters for Chicago Ideas Week, an annual gathering of global thought leaders.

"The next industrial revolution is occurring all around us, driven by innovations in technology and manufacturing," said Linda Boff, Global Brand Marketing Executive Director, GE. "There's something for...

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The gear teeth on the opposing hind-legs of a leaf hopper lock together like those in a car gear-box, ensuring almost complete synchronicity in leg movement - the legs always move within 30 'microseconds' of each other. Each gear strip in the juvenile Issus was around 400 micrometres long and had between 10 to 12 teeth, with both sides of the gear in each leg containing the same number – giving a gearing ratio of 1:1.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-09-functioning-mechanical-gears-nature.html#jCp

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Dolphins, Parrots (I have experience in this), Ravens, Elephants, (other) Primates...and now this Owl should open to us the possibility that we are not exclusive members of the Emotion Club. Animal Behavioralists, Social Scientists and Clergy take note.


While millions of Brits swap sun hats for brollies this resourceful frog was snapped sheltering from the rain – using a leaf as an UMBRELLA.

Photographer Penkdix Palme, 27, captured the tiny tree frog during a downpour in his neighbour’s back garden.

The rain-shy amphibian clung to the stem of a green leaf for 30 MINUTES as it was lashed by an afternoon storm.

Penkdix Palme photographed the tiny tree frog sheltering from the rain in his neighbour’s back garden ( Penkdix Palme / Newsteam)

In the amazing series of photographs, the two-inch high frog appears to angle the makeshift umbrella towards the direction of the fierce downpour.

Huge droplets of water gather at the bottom of the leaf and surrounding branch while the clever frog remains dry.


Of course, the little hopper isn't likely to obtain any IP for his invention. ;-)

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As a (former) birder with pocket-parrot experience (love bird): this was immediately obvious to me. Some, not all birds are curious (and vocally so), have a sense of humor and play and even ours was clever enough to understand indirect rewards to the extent that seemingly unrelated action A would beget seemingly unrelated result B which would enable seemingly unrelated opportunity C and so-on until a particular reward was obtained. 100% LOLtime!



We have faced this issue on a number of occasions, with the last occurrence being a number of reels of FETs from the authorized US disty for the FET manufacturer (fortunately). The parts were consistently failing even though they were used well within their envelope. Suspecting foul play, we called-in the rep who called in the semi house, who ultimately sent the reels to their lab for analysis because the parts were so amazingly (cosmetically) copied. Consider yourselves forewarned!