Interesting Reading #728 - Skyscrapers of the future, World's biggest solar farm, Lifesize AT-AT, Hyneman's body armor and much more!

by | Apr 13, 2011 08:52 PM ET

Google invests US$168 million in world's largest solar power tower plant - "Google has chipped in a US$168 million investment in what will be the world's largest solar power tower plant. To be located on 3,600 acres of land in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) will boast 173,000 heliostats that will concentrate the sun's rays onto a solar tower standing approximately 450 feet (137 m) tall. The plant commenced construction in October 2010 and is expected to generate 392 MW of solar energy following its projected completion in 2013...." See also: Google Invests in World's Largest Solar Power Tower Plant

Sprint Kyocera Echo: Two screen smartphone anything but ordinary - "It's not uncommon for power computer users to have more than one PC monitor going at once. That way, they can view different programs and tasks on different displays at the same time. Kyocera and Sprint are applying a similar principle to their latest smartphone. The result is the Kyocera Echo device I've been testing, billed as the nation's first dual touch-screen Android smartphone...."

Mike Koehler promises lifesize AT-AT walker will be Ewok-proofed with anti-log technology - "I wanted to make something that was: A) Doable. Fast-than-light and force field technology made many options unrealistic. B) Big enough to be awe-inspiring. Many people have made R2 units and Back to the Future Deloreans. The AT-AT is 50-feet tall...."

Hedge Fund Gamblers Earn the Same In One Hour As a Middle-Class Household Makes In Over 47 Years - "How do they make so much money? Where does it come from? How can hedge fund firms with fewer than 100 employees make as much profit as firms with thousands of employees? "

The Verizon Guy gets his life back. - "On a recent chilly afternoon, I met the actor Paul Marcarelli at a wooden bench on University Place in New York City, not far from Washington Square Park. He wore a black down vest, checkered scarf, gray paperboy hat, and wire-rimmed eyeglasses. This last accessory was a concession to reality: Marcarelli had long since realized that, if he hoped to have a relatively normal life, his favorite glasses—Buddy Holly–style plastic frames he'd worn since his mid-20s—would have to be retired from daily use. The frames, like the actor himself, had become synonymous with his most famous role: Test Man—or, more colloquially, “the Verizon Guy”—the iconic pitchman who has uttered his “Can you hear me now?” catchphrase in hundreds of the cell-phone company's commercials since November 2001...."

Intel to break Moore's Law to get Atom competing with ARM - "Of course, Intel has tried to pimp Atom out for tablets before, pushing it as the chip that could make Windows 7 based tablets a reality. There were only two problems with that idea. The first is that Windows 7 simply isn't a multitouch operating system, which is the fundamental software requirement at the core of any good tablet. And the second? Atom's not a very good tablet chip compared to ARM-based processors, which commonly boast month-long standby times and far superior energy efficiency to even Atom's frugal power sipping...."

Peter Jackson's First Hobbit Set Update - "Peter Jackson has updated his Facebook page with the first real update from the set of The Hobbit, and in addition to revealing a pic from the set; he confirmed they are shooting the movies at 48 frames per second...."

True-color holograms may light up small displays - "The Nintendo 3DS notwithstanding, 3D technology still comes under the classification of cumbersome. The viewing angle is usually poor, or you need to wear special glasses. Neither of these options are particularly attractive. An alternative is to use holograms, but this comes with its own set of problems. For instance, the holograms on credit cards are visible from a wide range of angles... but, well, they aren't called rainbow holograms for nothing. Holograms with better color reproduction have a limited viewing angle. All in all, it is rather fraught. ..."

Nocera Takes Solar Energy for the Masses One Step Further - "A couple of weeks ago, the social media networks were buzzing over the announcement of new technology that uses sunlight to split water for energy purposes; the so-called "artificial leaf." It's a man-made form of photosynthesis, a water-splitting technology that could potentially overcome the big challenges facing solar energy, like its current costliness and inability to provide energy when the sun goes down. MIT chemist Daniel Nocera unveiled the new artificial leaf at a recent American Chemical Society annual meeting, but many of the people commenting on it in the press didn't have the opportunity to see the technology in action...."

Photoshop CS5 Interaction with Tablet Devices

E-Mails Prove Zuck Stole 50 Percent of Facebook from Investor, Suit Claims - "A businessman who claims Mark Zuckerberg scammed him out of a $2,000 controlling interest in Facebook has amended his federal lawsuit, in an attempt to cash in on a company now valued at $65 billion...." See also: Mark Zuckerberg: Read the Latest Shocking Legal Claims Against the Facebook Founder

Uncle Sam Says No, You Absolutely Can't Have These Cars - "Today, we present some of the cars people tried to import under Show and Display that were rejected by Uncle Sam. We aren't talking about fanboy fantasies here, but actual cars that someone went to the trouble of tracking down and applying to the feds for...."

Skyscrapers of the future

Video hardware makers announce Thunderbolt support at NAB - "AJA is demonstrating a prototype portable device this week, codenamed "Phaser," which connects to a host via Thunderbolt. Phaser supports HDMI input and output, 10-bit hardware-based up/down/cross-conversions, RS422 deck control, and linear time code support. AJA noted that "Phaser" is merely a technology preview, but said in a statement that products incorporating the technology will be announced soon...."

Boot up: Android activations rocket to 350,000 smartphones a day, and more - "Plus, how Gartner's market forecasts looked in the heady days of 2009, and why 'post PC' doesn't mean 'sans PC'..."

WN Day 24: Ray Gun vs. Evinrude - "hat you see so clear it's painful in this Wired story is every eight-year old boy's dream of that “arsenal of ray guns.” Lasers were the coming thing when I was a kid. I bet they were the coming thing for guys ten years older than me too, and ten years younger. In other words, they've been the coming thing for a Hell of a long time, but they never seem to arrive...."

Mythbuster Developing U.S. Military Armor - " MythBusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman (photo, right) have a reputation for blending the nutty professor's scientific method with the daredevil's lust for pyrotechnic hijinks. They've debunked many a schoolyard myth and urban legend on their popular television show, and done it all with Christmas-morning glee. In the name of science they've fired cheese out of canons, driven cars off cliffs and even lit a match head with a bullet fired from a .45 caliber pistol...."

Opinion: Time to raise the speed limit, how does 150 MPH sound? - "Ever since automobiles first appeared over 100 years ago, every automaker has tried to make them go faster. And they succeeded. Nearly every year, cars became more powerful with higher top-end speeds. But then, in the mid-1950s, we hit a plateau. The national speed limit was set at 70 miles per hour, and we've been stuck at that rate ever since. As a result, the automobile has made absolutely no progress as a transportation device in over half a century...."

Ink with tin nanoparticles could print future circuit boards - "Almost all electronic devices contain printed circuit boards, which are patterned with an intricate copper design that guides electricity to make the devices functional. In a new study, researchers have taken steps toward fabricating circuit boards with an inkjet printer. They have synthesized tin (Sn) nanoparticles and then added them to the ink to increase its conductivity, leading to an improved way to print circuit boards..."

Replacing Body Parts - "Scientists are learning how to grow custom-made body parts so they can be ready when you—and your vital organs—start falling apart. At the University of Minnesota, Doris Taylor and her colleagues strip organs of their cells, reseed the organ "skeletons" with living cells, and watch as the organs start working right in front of their eyes...."

Home Solar Panel Kits Come To Costco - "Costco members will soon be able to add solar power systems alongside power tools and pancake mix on their shopping lists. Euegene, Oregon based Grape Solar has recently announced that several of its solar kits will soon be available through Costco's website in the ”Hardware” section under the Generators & Backup Power subcategory. Costco members will have a choice of 880W, 2300W, 3680W or 5060W ready-to-install kits, with prices ranging from around $3,600 upwards to around $18,000...."

Exclusive Video: JetLev Water-Powered Jetpack Test Flight - "Clearly, the purpose of science is quite simple: to provide humanity with jetpacks. Yet so far it has failed to deliver. Sure, there have been rocket belts, like the one seen in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball. But the expensive, difficult-to-use hydrogen peroxide propellant is only good for about 30 seconds of thrust, relegating the technology to the status of curiosity...."

A month after quake and tsunami, Japan struggles to rebuild

Japan ups nuke crisis severity to match Chernobyl

- "Japan raised the crisis level at its crippled nuclear plant Tuesday to a severity on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, citing high overall radiation leaks that have contaminated the air, tap water, vegetables and seawater...."

Saving a wet cell phone with dry rice... Holy crap, it actually works! - "I've always wondered about that fix for a wet cell phone — you know, the one where you bury it in dry rice for 24 hours? Turns out that yours truly got a chance to try out that very procedure when he somehow managed to drop his beloved Motorola Spice straight into a cup of hot coffee...."

Antimatter gravity could explain Universe's expansion - "In 1998, scientists discovered that the Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. Currently, the most widely accepted explanation for this observation is the presence of an unidentified dark energy, although several other possibilities have been proposed. One of these alternatives is that some kind of repulsive gravity – or antigravity – is pushing the Universe apart. As a new study shows, general relativity predicts that the gravitational interaction between matter and antimatter is mutually repulsive, and could potentially explain the observed expansion of the Universe without the need for dark energy...."

Handmade Portraits: Kiva Ford - "Master craftsman Kiva Ford aka (​shop/​kivaford ) toes the line between scientific beakers and delicately curlicued vessels. At his furnace, the intangible takes shape..."

How does Fukushima differ from Chernobyl? - "Japanese authorities have raised the severity rating of the nuclear crisis at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant to the highest level, seven...."

US police increasingly peeping at e-mail, instant messages - "Law enforcement organizations are making tens of thousands of requests for private electronic information from companies such as Sprint, Facebook and AOL, but few detailed statistics are available, according to a privacy researcher...."

Welcome to the U.S., We'll Take Your Laptop Now - "The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week in a case of first impression that if you are carrying electronics like computers, hard drives, smart phones, digital cameras, USB sticks or anything else that may contain questionable data when you enter the United States, it may be analyzed by Border Protection agents, either at the point of entry, or at a forensic lab off-site. So long as their actions are reasonable, and the scope of the intrusion and the duration of the deprivation is not egregious, the search will be deemed constitutional...."

Self-wiping hard drives from Toshiba - "Toshiba announces a family of self-encrypting hard disk drives (HDDs) engineered to automatically invalidate protected data when connected to an unknown host...."

Cathode Nixie Watch - "Do you have about $395 to spare? Are you a fan of Fallout and all things retrofuturistic? Well this insanely cool watch uses a 40 year old technology, Nixie tubes to display a delightfully retro telling of the time. I would usually scoff at any watch that costs over $100, but I find myself dangerously tempted. Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple was heard saying that this was one invention he wished he had invented first. If you've got money to burn, check out the inventors website: Cathode Corner...."

IBM's Watson not as smart as you think - "As smart as IBM's Watson supercomputer may have seemed while defeating two former Jeopardy champions, it wouldn't be able to hold a conversation with or speak intelligently to the attendees at its own conference, according to artificial intelligence (A.I.) experts who spoke at MIT Monday...."

When the Aliens Touch Down, Make for This Missile Base - "Larry Hall believes in preparing for scenarios that the Man would have you believe are fictional—Mayan disaster prophecies, pole shifts, alien invasions, that sort of thing. So the 54-year-old software engineer shelled out $250,000 for a decommissioned Atlas F Missile Base in Kansas. “I thought, wow, I can transform it into an ultrasafe, energy-efficient fortress,” Hall says. Then he figured that other people might also sleep better 200 feet underground within epoxy-hardened concrete walls. And with a custom retrofit featuring GE Monogram stainless-steel appliances and Kohler fixtures,..."

What Impact Has The New York Times Paywall Had on Traffic? - "The New York Times paywall has now been up for two weeks. What impact has it had on the popular website's traffic? More importantly, is the paywall working as intended or is it taking a bite out of The New York Times‘s revenues?"

[[[Jump to - Interesting Reading #727 – Scientists growing kidneys, IBM's graphene transistors, kill switches in chips and much more!]]]

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