1,000,000,000,000 Frames/Second Photography – Ramesh Raskar

March 23rd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

This nuts.

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Water-Droplet Computer

June 8th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

It’s not about manipulating data faster, it’s about manipulating matter for the first time. I’m super curious about what kind of applications this could be used for.

(via devour.com)

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Does Color Even Exist?

May 22nd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Malcolm Harris at The New Republic reviews a new book titled Outside Color by University of Pittsburgh professor M. Chirimuuta which tries to look at color in a different way. After showing that the existing scientific models for color have surprisingly insistent results she turns to computers and optical illusions to make her point in a very clever way. Rather than looking at them as a weakness of human perception she sees them as a strength.

Take a popular optical illusion, designed in 1995 by Edward Adelson, a professor of vision science in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT:
CheckerBoardIlliusion
The human perception system sees a checkerboard with a cylinder, while a basic SSR measurement shows squares A and B read the same. “Illusion” implies that our system is fooled, but as far as useful information goes, the checkerboard interpretation is probably better. Try as they might, mathematicians can’t make the computers see the checkerboard. Rather than a demonstration of how easily fooled we are, optical illusions like this one are examples of the brain’s mysterious and irreplicable abilities. It interprets its environment with a sophistication that exceeds our ability to measure and reconstruct physical phenomena. The usual framing has it wrong:
Despite A and B having the same SSR, humans are still able to see the checkerboard.

The color is not as important as the information that it conveys to us. This might explain why we have such an obsession with color and it’s perception. How much the color information that we take in on a daily basis was manufactured by our ancestors and given to us by our parents and culture? This reminds of of the fantastic Radio Lab episode Why Isn’t the Sky Blue? which looked at the etymology of the word blue and noted that in almost all languages it was the last color named in the rainbow. Without the name could we even perceive the color?

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Stanford researchers take two different takes on a new battery, one with more lithium, one with less.

May 18th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

There are some interesting, if possibly competing, teams working on new battery designs at Standford.

One team, lead by Hongjie Dai is working on an aluminum-ion battery with some interesting benefits. Typical alkaline batteries are terrible for the environment and lithium-ion batteries not only have a bad habit of catching on fire but they are also slow to recharge and only last about 1,000 cycles. The aluminum variety should be able to charge in minutes while also lasting more than 7,500 cycles. The main hurdle, and it’s a big one, is that it currently doesn’t put out enough juice to power something fancy like an iPhone. (source: iflscience.com)

Aluminum-ion battery

Meanwhile, on the other side of Campus Yi Cui is going after the ion side of the lithium-ion battery.

Today, we say we have lithium batteries, but that is only partly true. What we have are lithium ion batteries. The lithium is in the electrolyte, but not in the anode. An anode of pure lithium would be a huge boost to battery efficiency.

There are a number of problems with using lithium as an anode, not the least of which is that when lithium comes into contact with air it bursts into flames. To prevent this researchers are covering the lithium in a protective layer of interconnected carbon domes a bare 20 nanometers thick. They are still working on the coulombic efficiency of the battery but so far the results are quite promising.

(source: news.standord.edu)

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Continious Liquid 3D Printing

March 17th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Not only is this new printing technology anywhere from 25 to 100 times faster than current 3D Printing methods but the process manages to be simultaneously beautiful and grotesque. Like something H.R. Giger would dream up.

(Via Devour.com)

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The strongest natural substance known to man is… sea-snail teeth

February 18th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Forget Spider Silk, the limpet tooth is now the strongest substance known to man.

Barber used a a new technique involving atomic force microscopy to yank apart a sliver of toothy material nearly 100 times thinner than the breadth of a human hair. The substance he found is made of what he calls “an almost ideal” mix of protein reinforced by fine mineral nanofibers called goethite—creating a structure so sturdy it outperforms spider silk, which scientists had believed to be the strongest biological material.

Limpet Tooth

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Cymatics: Science vs Music

December 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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The Next Space Race

December 2nd, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

I have very high hopes for humanity and look forward to witnessing the steady march of progress on everything from racism and gender equality to health care and economic opportunities. While these advances are of the utmost importance to our individual day-to-day lives the call of the stars holds a special place in my heart. I’ve long been a sucker for Science Fiction and the nerd in me really hopes that I will bear witness to the next space race.

This is why I’m so bullish on private companies like SpaceX and Planetary Resources taking up the mantel of near earth exploration. If we can find direct ways to profit from traveling outside of our atmosphere not only will the rate of innovation be vastly as increased, but so to will the imagination of those still bound to this pale blue dot.

Do not expect organizations like NASA and the ESA to be marginalized however. Unshackled from the burden of launching satellites and supplying the space station I expect those organizations to continue to take humanity to places that private companies can only dream. Space Agencies are able to look beyond a fiduciary responsibility to stockholders and focus on exploration and the advancement of science for the betterment of humanity. A race to the stars fueled by a symbiotic relationship between private and public entities sounds like a pretty potent cocktail.

After all if the history of human civilization is to span more than a few millennia surely it must take root beyond this precious and fragile world that gave us life. I just hope I live to see it.

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A bowling ball and feather fall in world’s biggest vacuum chamber

November 5th, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

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New Sensor Paves the Way for Night Vision Contact Lenses

April 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

While we are years away from a shippable product this graphene based night vision sensor is a huge advancement.

Night vision, presently, is a rather clunky technology … To see in the dark, a person dons a set of binocular-shaped goggles strapped to the head. The devices also produce a lot of heat, so they need to be cooled, adding to the overall volume of mechanics required.

Now, researchers from the University of Michigan are close to packing night vision’s clumsiness into technology that fits on your fingertip. They built a super-thin infrared light sensor using graphene — a material that’s a single carbon atom in thickness — that could be stacked on contact lenses or integrated into smart phone cameras for handy night vision.

Should this technology make it all the way to market I suspect night vision will come standard on all devices that have a camera. It may even be included in everything from sunglasses to the peephole on your front door.

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