“I would argue that essentially anyone who can spend a couple thousand dollars on a non-industry grade 3-D printer can literally make a plastic cloak overnight,” said Yaroslav Urzhumov, assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering.
Urzhumov said that producing a cloak in this fashion is inexpensive and easy. He and his team made a small one at Duke which looks like a Frisbee™ disc made out of Swiss cheese. Algorithms determined the location, size and shape of the holes to deflect microwave beams. The fabrication process takes from three to seven hours.
“Computer simulations make me believe that it is possible to create a similar polymer-based cloaking layer as thin as one inch wrapped around a massive object several meters in diameter,” he said. “I have run some simulations that seem to confirm this point.”
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-05-do-it-yourself-invisibility-d.html
Well ain’t that just Harry Potter cool?
Modeling of various atmospheric pressures shows that Exo earths could have life friendly atmospheres across a broader range of orbital distances than our thin aired original. Since we are ‘seeing’ a lot of big worlds out there this is promising, though of course too much of a good thing is bad, as our sister world Venus shows.
A figure from Vladilo’s paper summarizing the general findings. The area of the circles is proportional to their habitability. The bottom axis shows the virtual worlds’ distance from their Sun-like star, with 1 AU (astronomical unit) representing the average Sun-Earth distance of approximately 150 million kilometers (93 million miles). The top axis (insolation) shows solar radiation (in watts) received on a unit area (a square meter). Surface pressure is on the y axis to the left. Credit: Vladilo et al. 2013, ApJ, 767, 65; http://wwwuser.oats.inaf.it/astrobiology/planhab/
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-05-pressure-density-exoplanets-atmospheres-odds.html#jCp
Eyeball Earths…Red or Brown Dwarf Life Worlds?
Artist’s concept of a planet where one side always faces its star, with the dark side covered in ice. Credit: Beau.TheConsortium
Red dwarfs are small, faint stars about one-fifth as massive as the Sun and up to 50 times dimmer. They are the most common stars in the galaxy and make up to 70 percent of the stars in the universe, vast numbers that potentially make them valuable places to look for extraterrestrial life. Indeed, the latest results from NASA’s Kepler space observatory reveal that at least half of these stars host rocky planets that are half to four times the mass of Earth.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-05-eyeball-earths.html#jCp
An electron micrograph shows the nanoscale perforations at the surface of the plasmonic coupler. Credit: Jiao Lin and Balthasar Müller.
(Phys.org) —A Harvard-led team of researchers has created a new type of nanoscale device that converts an optical signal into waves that travel along a metal surface. Significantly, the device can recognize specific kinds of polarized light and accordingly send the signal in one direction or another.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-04-physicists-left-solution-on-chip-optics.html
Pretty important stuff, ducting light around on chips is an important ability for future electronics…or maybe one should say, nano- electro- optic- systems. Cool stuff…
(Phys.org) —”Wave goodbye to camera-based gesture control.” That is the confident directive coming from a one-year-old Waterloo, Ontario, startup called Thalmic Labs. The company is prepared to ship its next batch of wearable-computing armbands for device controls early next year. The $149 armbands called MYO do not require cameras in order to track hand or arm movements. The armbands can wirelessly control and interact with computers and other digital consumer products by recognizing the electric impulses in users’ muscles.
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-04-myo-armband-muscle-video.html#jCp
Using groundbreaking technology, MYO is able to measure electrical activity in your muscles instantly. The result is a seamless way to interact with computers, and a truly magical sense of control.
Read more at: https://getmyo.com/
3D Printer | Exploring the world of 3D printing | Printing tactile images for the blind
by Cameron Naramore on April 25, 2013
A “relief” is an example of what a 3D printed picture could look like.
Etchings, reliefs, contoured renderings of images. But what would a blind Rembrandt create with the right tools, ways for the sighted to gain concept for the inner perceptions of the blind? In the end this will become a new art form.
Article:Alexander George, Photo: Alex Washburn/Wired
When the light turns green and the two-lane road begins an ess turn, it’s clear the Zero DS is a true motorcycle, not just a scooter with sport bike pretensions. This is an electric hoon machine that will put you ahead of almost anything on four wheels. Going from a standstill to 60 mph takes a tick over five seconds, and high-end torque slings the bike through on-ramps with aplomb. The Zero has the power to inspire that smirk of speed euphoria I crave from a bike — something that hasn’t been lost with the removal of a traditional internal combustion engine.
As a two-wheeled electric vehicle, the Zero DS is perfect. The engineering has accounted for everything important in a transportation vehicle. Riding the Zero, you think, this is how a civilized society should move about. This is a lithe and efficient vehicle, and an exemplar of what motorized travel should be: four-hundred pounds of weight moving between destinations silently, parking unobtrusively, and most of all, forcing the rider to be deliberate and unwasteful. Take only what can fit in the storage space and travel knowing that you have a finite range and must act resourcefully. Those restrictions, again, keep the Zero from being a true all-around motorcycle, but I like the idea of noble asceticism so long as the thrill of speed remains.
To me it looks like wind power is a long term loser, I think the capital intensive and land intensive technology may be overtaken by solar…partly because solar seems much more amenable to new nanotechnology ‘helpers’ in comparison to the relatively old school large scale engineering materials tech that dominate wind … And it seems like their are many more complex scaling issues with wind in comparison to solar.
Screenshot … showing the power output vs. wind speed signals for a wind turbine. Credit: Patrick Milan, et al. ©2013 American Physical Society
Shifting winds: A simulation shows the effects of turbulent wakes on downstream wind turbines. The turbulence affects air as high as a kilometer above the ground.
University of Chicago researchers have created a synthetic compound that mimics the complex quantum dynamics observed in photosynthesis. The compound may enable fundamentally new routes to creative solar light harvesting technologies. Credit: Graham Griffin
In a standard photovoltaic (PV) cell, each photon knocks loose exactly one electron inside the PV material. That loose electron then can be harnessed through wires to provide an electrical current. But in the new technique, each photon can instead knock two electrons loose. This makes the process much more efficient: In a standard cell, any excess energy carried by a photon is wasted as heat, whereas in the new system the extra energy goes into producing two electrons instead of one.
Schematic of the ECPB-based approach to water splitting. Credit: Nature Chemistry.
The process by which plants convert energy from the sun’s rays into chemical ‘fuel’ has inspired a new way of generating clean, cheap, renewable hydrogen
(a) Diagram of the silicon nanopillar solar cell. (b) Diagram of the hybrid energy harvester consisting of a piezoelectric nanogenerator integrated on to of a silicon nanopillar solar cell. Credit: Dae-Yeong Lee, et al. ©2013 IOP Publishing Ltd
Stanford researchers are developing rooftop panels that cool buildings by sending heat back into space, a technique that could be more efficient than running an air conditioner from solar panels.
And if you look you will find much more of the same…in some areas of the world Solar is more cost effective than other albeit expensive sources and the tech tends to be small scale he scale-able and independent of higher level infrastructure, be it a national grid link or capital level finance, and it tends towards robust systems with local failures isolated … It seems likely this is the future and wind will be relegated to niche plays. Which could still be important….
Batteries: Cheapest Form of Grid Power? Using a wind energy and expensive lithium-ion batteries, AES Energy Storage is making money by stabilizing the grid.
Perhaps not sexy but Right On! Article discusses the huge reduction in cost enabled by fabbing ones own optical components. Once scientists were the smart and the curious exploring the world with tools they made themselves. The wave of design software and fabrication tools, much like the wave of page design software and color printers of two decades ago, presage an utter change in the ability of the Everyman ( either, any sex, age) to explore to build/create and add to the sum of Mankind’s repository of knowledge / value.