STUFF: News, Technology, the cool and the plain weird

Recommended Posts

'Weird' OBJECT, PROPELLED by its OWN JETS, spotted beyond Mars orbit by Hubble


A bizarre spinning object, described by NASA as "weird and freakish" and shooting jets of matter that cause it to move, has been spotted in our Solar System.

The mysterious rock, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, was seen spewing matter from its surface by the Hubble space telescope on September 10. Then in a second image taken on September 23 the asteroid, dubbed P/2013 P5, appeared to have swung around significantly.

Professor David Jewitt – of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles – told The Register that the appearance of the asteroid is unique, and the team has some ideas of how it came to exhibit such unusual characteristics.

"One idea was that we were seeing ice on the asteroid outgassing, but the object is too hot, around 170 Kelvin, for ice," he explained. "An impact with the asteroid was discussed but that would leave one large plume, not six."

The current idea is that the asteroid is being spun around so quickly that it is breaking apart under the strain of its own rotation. The spin is probably the result of hundreds of thousands of years of slight pressure from solar emissions.

Stars like our Sun emit protons and radiation that can push against objects in its heliosphere, and for asteroids of a certain shape these emissions cause rotation. Since the pressure from the Sun is constant, and space is virtually frictionless, then asteroids can spin faster and faster until they disintegrate.

This YORP effect (named after the four scientists who contributed to the theory: Yarkovsky, O'Keefe, Radzievskii, and Paddack) has been suggested as a reason for the relative paucity of small, asymmetrical objects within our Solar System in comparison to rounder rocks, and the search is now on for more observations of the theory in action.

"In astronomy, where you find one, you eventually find a whole bunch more," said Prof Jewitt, whose study of the rock [PDF] was published in the Astrophysical Journal of Letters. "This is an amazing object and almost certainly the first of many more to come."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 13.3k
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Many thanks  Yes, I think I started F1 back in 2009 so there's been one since then.  How time flies! I enjoy both threads, sometimes it's taxing though. Let's see how we go for this year   I

STYLIST GIVES FREE HAIRCUTS TO HOMELESS IN NEW YORK Most people spend their days off relaxing, catching up on much needed rest and sleep – but not Mark Bustos. The New York based hair stylist spend

Truly amazing place. One of my more memorable trips! Perito Moreno is one of the few glaciers actually still advancing versus receding though there's a lot less snow than 10 years ago..... Definit

Another DEVASTATING Chelyabinsk METEOR STRIKE: '7x as likely' as thought

NASA's checked its space rock maths and it's not good news


NASA has revealed fresh research on the Chelyabinsk meteorite that exploded over Russia in February, and the findings aren't good: not only does it look like the astronomic models about the number of similar-sized things reaching Earth are wrong, but also the damage they can do is much greater than expected.

"If you look at the number of impacts detected by US government sensors over the past few decades you find the impact rate of kiloton-class objects is greater than would be indicated by the telescopic surveys," said Bill Cooke, meteoroid environment office lead at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at a press conference on Wednesday.

"Over the past few decades we've seen an impact rate about seven times greater than the current state of the telescopic surveys would indicate."

Cooke said that as the current state of asteroid surveys was expanded he expected we would find more meteorites in the vicinity to account for these impacts, but also that the amount of damage they caused was being reassessed.

The nuclear model used to estimate the amount of explosive force such incidents could cause had, in fact, been over estimating the blast impacts of such air-bursting meteors, he explained. But the amount of heat they generate, and the damage caused by the shockwave of air they push before them as they come down through the atmosphere, was significantly underestimated.

The Chelyabinsk meteor is the largest foreign body to come down to Earth since the Tunguska event in 1908, where a comet or meteor devastated 2,150 square kilometers of Siberia with an airburst, according to Lindley Johnson, NEO program executive of NASA's planetary science division.

Thanks to the amount of dashcam videos, smartphones with cameras, the work of "citizen scientists," and boffins around the world sharing their data, NASA has now piece together exactly what happened during the Chelyabinsk event he explained.

The meteorite arrived completely unexpectedly because it was coming at Earth with the Sun behind it, masking its progress NASA said. It hit our atmosphere at a speed of 42,500 mph (19 kilometers per second) and the vast majority of its mass was destroyed in the detonation 23 kilometers above Russia.

Around 9,000 to 13,000lb (4,000 to 6,000 kilograms) of the meteor survived the blast and fell to Earth, including several chunks that have been recovered. From an analysis of the remains scientists have concluded that fractures in the meteorite (formed from an impact with another space rock) left veins of silicates running throughout its body, making it much more likely to break up in the friction with our atmosphere.


The Chelyabinsk meteorite briefly outshone the Sun

The brightness of the object, and the amount of energy it transferred, surprised scientists. The meteor was briefly brighter than the Sun, even 100 kilometers from the site of the incursion, and the shockwave it created flattened buildings, shattered glass and injured 1,200 people.

Analysis of its remains show the Chelyabinsk meteorite was formed about 4.4 billion years ago and was 19 meters across. Objects under thirty meters wide aren’t expected to have the mass to make an impact with the Earth's surface without disintegrating under the stress of atmospheric contact, according to NASA's models.

Larger objects, such as the 40 meter asteroid 2012 DA14, which skimmed past Earth on the same day as the Chelyabinsk meteorite, could make it to the surface and cause considerable damage, Johnson said. But NASA did have viable plans to divert such dangers if they are spotted soon enough.

One idea is to launch a spacecraft directly at the incoming object. Provided it had sufficient mass, and could accurately hit the incoming rock, then the impact would slow the asteroid down to the point where Earth would have passed by the time it crossed our orbital plane.

If NASA had more of a warning it could send another mission to the asteroid which would use a "gravity tracker," harnessing the attractive force of the spacecraft and the rock to subtly divert its course away, but said that this would take a number of years to achieve.

What was needed he said was a dedicated infrared telescope in orbit to complete a more thorough survey of near-Earth objects.

Searching on the IR band would make these objects stand out more he told El Reg, and give a better estimate to their size.

The Chelyabinsk meteorite had given new urgency to a campaign to bring more capabilities to addressing the issue of asteroid impacts ("It's a great advertisement," Johnson joked) and provided an incentive to improve our chances of spotting threats in the future. Whether governments are willing to put up the relatively small amounts of money needed to take things further is another matter however.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sky Flowers: The Explosive And Deadly History Of Fireworks


As you kick back under a glittering shower of high-production-value pyrotechnics on Independence Day this year, take a second to remember how the modern firework started out: As a tiny, but startling, accident.

In China, roughly 2200 years ago, the first firework was just a reed of bamboo roasting over a fire. And just like with corn kernels, all of that applied heat caused the air inside the reed to expand. Within minutes, the reed’s thin casing could no longer handle the internal pressure, and — bam! — fireworks. The noise gave the nearby humans such a start, they decided it could be effectively deployed to frighten away evil spirits.


An engraving shows the invention of gunpowder.

In the grand scheme of firework history, barbecued bamboo was more party trick than show stopper. That all changed when the Chinese invented gunpowder, in the 9th century. Tinkering alchemists — who had experimented with saltpeter for years — finally landed on the perfect recipe: 75 per cent saltpeter (potassium nitrate), 15 per cent charcoal, and 10 per cent sulfur (the same ratio is used today). Their discovery held the key to a huge range of inventions — among them, modern fireworks and the multistage rocket.

Naturally, others were eager to get their hands on this explosive technology. In fact, the Mongols were so desperate to learn its secrets, they captured Chinese artisans and forced them to reveal their trade recipes. Ultimately, the Mongols used their knowledge to conquer eastern Europe, where gunpowder was unknown. And just like the invaders who brought it with them, gunpowder soon seemed to be everywhere.


A fireworks celebration, in 1686, in Brussels

By the 14th century, both the holy festivals taking place at Christian religious sites and the chest-pounding taking place on European battlefields were often punctuated with sprays of gunpowder-fired explosions. Designing and igniting the displays took special skill (and precision), so groups of gunners were created to take on the task. But fireworks still hadn’t become an art. That didn’t happen until 1743, when five Italian brothers named Ruggieri brought this so-called “Chinese fire” to the stage of Paris’ Comédie Italienne.

The Ruggieri brothers could do magical things with a bit of gunpowder. They fixed crosses, polygons, wheels, and stars to iron axles supporting the displays, creating spinning bursts of fire behind the actors. Soon enough, the fireworks were stealing the show — they were even given their own stage names, like “Magical Combat,” “Gardens of Flowers,” “The Palace of Fairies,” and “The Forges of Vulcan.” (Way better names than “Killer Bees,” amirite?) The brothers were born innovators, and their techniques — which focused on creating moving fireworks, rather than stationary ones — upstaged the shot-by-shot deployment of their contemporaries. The trick even earned the brothers an appointment making displays for Louis XV’s court.


A Ruggieri display at the French court.

The promotion was great for the Ruggieri, but it pissed off quite a few pyro-practitioners working locally. Tensions came to a head in 1749, when the competing factions got into an argument over which group would service an event. When neither group would step down, they both decided to set their work alight at the same time. What ensued was a disaster of epic proportions: The quarrel killed 40 people and injured 300


An illustration of the Ruggieri fireworks show, which Handel scored with Music for the Royal Fireworks.

The Ruggieri endured in the courts, though — in 1750, Georg Friedrich Handel even composed a Music for the Royal Fireworks to accompany one of their displays. Yet the intensity of the Ruggieri pyrotechnics would prove deadly more than once. In 1770, during Marie Antoinette’s nuptials, Petroni Ruggieri lit up a celebratory display that spooked the crowd. The huge group onlookers quickly transformed into a freaked-out mob, and several people were trampled to death. The Ruggieri, it seemed, were done for.

How do you stage a comeback when you’re out of favour with the court? With science — and no small amount of flair. Claude-Fortuné Ruggieri, a member of the Ruggieri family’s next generation of pyro-artists, grew up around modern chemistry — and he put this new knowledge to use in the family business. Even compared to his wild predecessors, Claude-Fortuné was a modernist, experimenting with oxygen and phosphorus and igniting his displays from hot air balloons. But his biggest contribution to his field were the special metallic salts that he engineered to manipulate colour. By adding a dash to other active ingredients, Ruggieri found that he could turn a flame green. And if he added a combination of chlorinated powder and strontium, he could create red, barium green, and copper blue.


A brochure from the Unexcelled Fireworks Company, from 1887, sold items like the balloon-based fireworks seen above.

Thanks to Claude-Fortuné’s chemical know-how, the modern firework had been born. By the end of the 18th century, fireworks were being used for celebrations all over the world. They took on special important in fledgling America, when John Adams requested a special display to mark the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The basic recipe for fireworks hasn’t changed much since Adams’ day, though pyrotechnicians have improved the control and intensity of modern-day displays.


At-home fireworks were sold in the US beginning in the early 20th century.

Baseball became synonymous with fireworks in 1909, thanks to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ owner Barney Dreyfuss. Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field had opened just a few days before, and Dreyfuss requested the team’s doubleheader end with a grand display of patriotic explosions for the 40,000 attending fans. The display was a huge hit — the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette even called it “the altar upon which the marriage of baseball and fireworks was consummated.”

For the fans’ sake, lets hope they used protection.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Almost Earth: The Global Hunt For Habitable Worlds


Two papers were published recently, each independently revealing that a planet discovered by the Kepler mission is the closest thing we’ve found yet to another Earth. But don’t pack your bags just yet — this new “Earth” is certainly not the habitable world we’ve all been waiting for.

Jonti Horner is an astronomer and astrobiologist based at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney. This post originally appeared on The Conversation.

A brief history of exoplanets

The search for planets around other stars is one of the most exciting fields of modern research, and cuts to the core of one of the oldest questions known to humanity — “are we alone?”.

The first planets discovered orbiting sun-like stars, in the mid 1990s, led to an immediate revolution in our understanding of planetary science and planetary formation. Before the discovery of 51 Pegasi b, in 1995, models of planet formation predicted that planets we found around other stars would be much like our own.

There would be rocky worlds, huddled close around the heat of their host star (like Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars), and giant planets further out (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune).

It was a shock, then, when the first exoplanets, such as 51 Pegasi b, turned out to be “Hot Jupiters”, giant planets orbiting their stars at a tiny fraction of the distance from Earth to the sun.

Those first discoveries revolutionised our understanding of planet formation, and of the variety of planetary systems we expect to find elsewhere. The surprises have kept coming ever since — from planets with two suns to diamond planets, and many, many more.

Ever smaller, ever colder

As time has passed, we have become ever more proficient at finding exoplanets. We have found planets at ever greater distances from their host stars. And we have found ever-smaller planets, which are significantly harder to detect.

The methods we use to look for planets are biased toward finding larger ones. The radial velocity method measures the wobble of a given star along our line of sight as it rocks back and forth in response to the gravitational pull of its unseen planetary companion. This tells us the planet’s mass. The closer the planet to its host, or the more massive the planet compared to its host, the larger the wobble will be.

The transit method (used by the Kepler mission, records how much light a planet blocks from its star and tells us the physical size of the planet relative to its host.

The bigger the planet, the more of its host star’s light it will block as it passes between us and that star. The shorter the planet’s orbital period, the more frequently it will pass between us and the star, and so the more data we will be able to obtain to show that the planet is there.

The Kepler mission has helped to push us remarkably close to the goal of finding truly Earth-like planets, and it is almost certain that such planets lurk amongst the 3602 candidate planets awaiting confirmation.

These most recent discoveries takes us one step further down the road towards the first true exo-Earth.


Kepler 78b – delving into the nature of a tiny transiting planet

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet on a very short period orbit around the star Kepler 78 was announced a couple of months ago. The size of the planet made it a fascinating target for further study, and two groups of astronomers began independent programs of radial velocity observations of the planet’s host star. The results of those studies are published today.

The two disparate measurement methods — transit and radial velocity — can each tell us something about the planet in question, but they are insufficient to give us the full picture. But if it possible to observe a given planet using both techniques, then suddenly things become far more exciting.

How to find an exoplanet

Once you have both the size of the planet and its mass, you can calculate its density — and at that point, you can tell whether it is gaseous, rocky, metallic.

This is the game that the astronomers have played with the planet orbiting the star Kepler 78. We now know that Kepler 78b is slightly bigger than Earth — one of the two papers gives its radius as 1.20 times that of Earth (something like 8080 km); the other gives a radius of 1.173 times that of Earth (approximately 7470 km).

The uncertainties on these measurements are relatively small, but they are mutually consistent (the uncertainties overlap) — so we can say with some certainty that Kepler 78b is a planet that is only slightly larger than our Earth.

A remarkably Earth-like world

The two groups whose work has been published carried out intensive radial velocity observations of the star Kepler 78 using the HARPS-N instrument (on La Palma, in the Canary Islands) and the HIRES spectrometer on the 10 metre Keck-I Telescope (which sits on top of the Hawaiian island of Mauna Kaea). The use of the world’s best facilities have allowed the authors to measure the tiny radial velocity variations in the light from Kepler 78, allowing them to precisely determine the mass of the Kepler 78b.

Again, the two papers offer slightly different values for the planet’s mass — 1.69 or 1.86 times that of the Earth. Again, given the size of the uncertainties in these measurements, they are entirely consistent with one another — and they reveal that Kepler 78b is not significantly more massive than our Earth. A super-Earth it is, but one not too dissimilar to our own planet — at least in terms of its mass and its size.

The similarities between the two planets go deeper. Based on the masses and radii determined in these works, they both calculate the density of the planet. Again, their final values differ slightly — with values of 5.3 and 5.57 grams per cubic centimetre.

Remarkably, these values are essentially the same as the density of the Earth — 5.52 grams per cubic centimetre.

Because Kepler 78b is more massive than the Earth, you might expect the gravitational pull at its surface to be stronger than that we experience here on Earth. However, because the planet is also larger than our Earth, it turns out that the acceleration due to gravity at its surface is startlingly similar to that we experience here. One of the two papers calculates that, on the planet’s surface, you would experience an acceleration of around 11.4 metres per second squared (just 1.16 times greater than that at Earth’s surface).

Physically, then, Kepler 78b seems remarkably similar to our Earth — it is slightly more massive, slightly larger, and the gravitational pull on its surface is only slightly stronger than that we experience here. There, unfortunately, the similarities end.

The Earth takes just over 365 days to orbit the Sun, at a distance of roughly 150 million kilometres. By contrast, Kepler 78b takes just eight and a half hours to orbit its host, at a separation of less than one and a half million kilometres.

Kepler 78b orbits less than a million kilometers above the photosphere of its star. As a result, the surface temperature of our Earth-like planet is estimated in one of the two new papers to lie in the range 1500 – 3000 K (~1230 – 2730 degree Celsius).

To put this intense heat in perspective, one only has to look at the temperatures at which given elements melt and boil.

Astronomers often discuss how the Venutian surface would be hot enough to melt lead. On Kepler 78b, even the “coldest” estimate of the temperature would be sufficient to melt gold, silver, and copper. At the high end of the temperature range, copper and silver would boil, and gold wouldn’t be far off.

Kepler 78b orbits so close to its host star that it is almost certainly locked in what astronomers call a “1:1 spin-orbit resonance”. In other words, the planet almost certainly keeps one face pointed towards the star, the other facing away. From one side of Kepler 78b (if one exists), its parent star will sit stationary, spanning a 40 degree swathe of the sky. From the other, the star will never rise.

A watershed moment

So Kepler 78b isn’t the exo-Earth we’ve been looking for, the twin of our own planet so dear to science fiction. But it is a vital step on the way. It is by far the most Earth-like planet found to date — almost the right size, and with almost the right composition, but located on an orbit which ensures it is about as hellish as possible.

In fact, aside from its orbit, the similarities with the Earth are striking — and to find a planet like this so soon as astronomers plough through the reams of data provided by Kepler is a hugely promising sign.

Generations have dreamt of discovering other Earths around distant stars — and these observations of Kepler 78b show us that dream is tantalisingly close to being realised.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“The Heart of Everything That Is”: The Sioux’s brilliant, unsung leader

A vibrant new biography of Red Cloud, the only Native American leader to win a war against the U.S.


Red Cloud — Sioux chieftain, sometime ally of Sitting Bull and mentor to Crazy Horse — was a brilliant politician and military tactician. Pragmatic as well as daring, he cuts a less romantic figure than those two more famous and more tragic Indian leaders of the same period; he survived to the ripe old age of 88, dying in 1909. But Red Cloud was also the only Native American commander to defeat the United States in a war. His life, and the war that bears his name, are the subject of “The Heart of Everything That Is:

The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin.

This is a ripping yarn, based in part on Red Cloud’s memoir, which was transcribed by two reservation friends, misplaced in a drawer for several decades and is still relatively little-known. Another big chunk of the book derives from the first-person accounts (letters, diaries, memoirs) of whites living in the besieged Fort Phil Kearny on Big Piney Creek in what is now Wyoming, where the biggest battle in Red Cloud’s War was fought in 1866. A quintessentially Western tale of bold exploits, tough characters, brutal conditions and a lost way of life, this sounds like the sort of story that practically tells itself.

Yet you only realize how little justice most popular histories do to their source material when you come across a book, like this one, that does everything right. It’s customary to say of certain nonfiction books — gussied up with plenty of “color” and psychological speculation — that they “read like a novel,” but truth be told, most of the time we’d have to be talking about a pretty mediocre novel.

“The Heart of Everything That Is,” on the other hand, resembles the good ones. There were times, turning its pages, when I could almost smell the pines of the Black Hills, feel the icy wind tearing down from Canada across the prairie and hear the hooves of the buffalo pounding the earth.

Red Cloud rose through the class hierarchy of the Oglala Lakotas despite having a father who was not only an outsider (from the Brule branch of the Sioux) but an alcoholic who died young; a maternal uncle took the boy and his mother into his clan. The first part of “The Heart of Everything That Is” describes the shrewd and ambitious young warrior’s climb against the backdrop of Sioux society: nomadic, proud, mystical and saturated in warfare.

Red Cloud once told a white man that he and his people had fought so hard to retain dominion of the Black Hills (“the heart of everything that is” in their language) because the gods had delivered the Sioux from the underworld via the sacred Wind Cave in those hills. In fact, the Sioux originated in the Great Lakes area, where, according to Drury and Clavin, they “generally had their way with their Algonquin neighbors” until the 1660s, when the Algonquins began to trade furs with Europeans for muskets and knives.

The classic picture of Plains Indian life — the brave, painted and feathered, almost flying across the grassland on the back of his painted pony, was largely if indirectly shaped by Europeans, who introduced both metal weapons and horses to the New World, pushing the Sioux west and supplying them with the animals used in their great buffalo hunts.

The Sioux lived by hunting and raiding, and if Drury and Clavin are sensible to the flinty grandeur of their culture, they frankly acknowledge it was entwined with the Sioux’s “savage and relentless subjugation of neighboring tribes.” Red Cloud proved his mettle by stealing horses, killing enemies (the Lakota had a particular hatred of the Crows) and “counting coup,” a form of prestige accorded to a fighter who strikes a foe, with the highest honor going to a brave who landed a non-fatal blow and escaped unscathed. A paragon of “steely self-discipline” (unlike the more volatile Crazy Horse), Red Cloud had a melancholy personal life, having planned to marry two women (first one from a prominent family, then the maiden he loved best), but the intended second bride hanged herself on the day of his wedding to the first, after which he remained monogamous, “an oddity in Sioux culture.”

Red Cloud’s great gifts as a leader included the foresight to recognize that, unless stopped, the whites would eventually seize the Powder River Valley where his people lived. He argued that they should eschew the European luxuries that had seduced weaker tribes: coffee, sugar and above all alcohol. He achieved the remarkable feat of persuading several other tribes, including some traditional enemies, to join his campaign to drive the whites out of the region. His goal: to shut down the recently blazed Bozeman trail, running north from Fort Laramie to Virginia City, in Montana, and the three forts established along the route, including Fort Phil Kearny. He succeeded, forcing U.S. authorities to withdraw from the territory, even if it wasn’t for long.

When it comes to the war itself, Red Cloud refrained from describing it to his interlocutors (who were white). For that reason, “The Heart of Everything That Is” switches perspective in its last half, from that of Red Cloud and the Sioux to that of the Americans in Fort Phil Kearny, a particular focus of Red Cloud’s highly effective guerrilla-style warfare.

This ought to be disorienting, but Drury and Clavin make it work, and the shift supports the book’s general approach of recognizing the virtues and faults on both sides without idealizing or romanticizing either one. The authors’ disgust with the flagrant dishonesty and racism represented by U.S. treaties and policies toward the Indians registers most strongly, but they don’t try to paper over the Oglala’s routine practice of mutilating and killing (not necessarily in that order) almost all prisoners, regardless of age or gender. At least the Indians weren’t hypocrites about it; torturing a captured warrior to death was considered an homage to his courage. When you get to the moment when the inhabitants of Fort Phil Kearny learn that a company of some 80 men (civilians as well as soldiers) sent out to protect a wagon train of lumber had been lured into an ambush and slaughtered, your sense of their terror at what might come next is eminently well-grounded.

Someone had to ride from Fort Phil Kearny to Fort Laramie with the news and a plea for reinforcements despite the 20-below temperatures and a lowering storm, and Drury and Clavin’s account of Portugee Phillips’ famous ride that winter exemplifies the authors’ vivid, economical style. Here’s the scene of the messenger’s more-dead-than-alive arrival on Christmas night, while the residents of Fort Laramie were having a full-dress garrison ball:

Phillips reached under his buffalo coat and woolen shirts and pulled out Colonel Carrington’s dispatches. Lieutenant Colonel Palmer’s face whitened as he read them. He looked at Phillips, who had just ridden 236 miles in four days through raging blizzards — a feat that would become equal in western lore to Paul Revere’s famous ride. Palmer turned back to the cold papers in his hands. He was wearing white kid gloves.

The white gloves and the cold paper follow from the full-dress ball and the blizzard, but to pick out these two bright points from the murk of history, like an artist adding a speck of light to a painted eye, makes the moment live. There are many moments like that in “The Heart of Everything That Is,” set in the lodges of the Lakota, the eerie moonscape of the Badlands and the immense open plains of the prairie — the harsh, magnificent world that Red Cloud fought so fiercely to preserve for as long as he could.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Take A Tour Through The Glassy Halls Of Apple's Future HQ


We’ve spent months marvelling over the facade of Apple’s new headquarters. But now, thanks to these renderings from the City of Cupertino uncovered by Wired, we’re getting an idea about the spaces inside the building — and it’s hard to decide if it looks more like a futuristic office or a futuristic Apple store.

The campus, as we’ve known for a while, revolves around a massive circular building of some 278 700m². Designed by British architect Norman Foster, the space is designed to promote collaboration, but connecting interior and exterior spaces through a long, continuous corridor. A separate cluster of buildings set off from the main building will house research and development, and there’s also a massive underground auditorium that will be home to product launches and major events. Oh, and don’t forget about the cafeteria; it’s 8361m².

Outside, it’s a veritable eco reserve. Foster says the landscape is designed to resemble the Santa Clara Valley of Steve Jobs’s youth, “an ecologically rich oak savanna reminiscent of the early Santa Clara Valley” according to the company’s proposal.

As Wired‘s Kyle Vanhemert describes it, the landscape doesn’t look like an office complex at all, but rather a park filled with fruit trees — cherry, plum and apricot, amongst others — not to mention fountains and wooded groves. The building itself is an ecosystem, too, since it will aim to become one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings in the world.

In a way, the new headquarters just looks like a massive Apple store — probably because it shares the Spartan aesthetic we’ve come to expect from the company. The fact that the renderings show a reception desk that could just as easily be a Genius Bar and hallways lined with iPod Nanos certainly adds to the retail ambience.

As Apple put it, though, the office is designed to be “a serene environment reflecting Apple’s brand values of innovation, ease of use and beauty.” Beauty? We’ve known this building was hot for a while. Ease of use? The new interior photos do make the mothership look like a place we’d like to work. Innovation? Only time will tell.






Link to comment
Share on other sites

Watch Ken Block Destroy This Gymkhana Course And Taunt Lamborghinis

Ken Block is a man without fear. For Gymkhana 6, he teamed up with the people from Need For Speed: Rivalsto build an insane course filled with twists, turns, containers, police on segways and in Lamborghinis. Then Ken made that course his tyre-smoked *****. Get in here and watch this quickly before EA takes it down!

The course sees Ken take his 650-horsepower Ford Fiesta (!!!) and do brilliant powerslides through nine shipping containers, smash a series of hanging balls, run rings around police cars before donuting around real, live people on segways (again) without hitting them.

Call me crazy, but I’d give just about anything to be in the passenger seat!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did A USB Stick Infect A Russian Nuclear Plant With Stuxnet?


There’s a common misconception that you need to be connected to the internet to get infected with malware. Well, that’s not true and, according to renowned cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky, the folks at a nuclear power plant in Russia learned this the hard way.

Kaspersky recently told the Canberra Press Club in Australia that a Russian nuclear plant was infected by the infamous Stuxnet virus through a tainted USB stick. The plant was connected to the internet at the time, just as the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran which was crippled by Stuxnet in 2010 was not connected. Kaspersky said that the infection occured “during Stuxnet time” but didn’t elaborate on the effect of the virus on the Russian nuclear plant. Kaspersky also mentioned that even the International Space Station is infected with malware “from time to time” thanks to USB sticks brought up by scientists.

Sceptics will point out that it’s hard to fact-check Kaspersky’s claim about the nuclear power plant. However, we do know that the Stuxnet worm’s reach extended beyond Iran. The infection hit countries all over the world, in fact, even the United States who allegedly built the dang thing. We do know, however, that viruses have made their way up to the ISS on multiple occasions.

Nevertheless, Kaspersky’s larger point rings true. In this brave, new era of cyber threats, no one is safe. “Unfortunately, it’s very possible that other nations which are not in a conflict will be victims of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure,” said Kaspersky. “It’s cyber space. [There are] no borders.” There are also no holds barred.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People Should Really Stop Trying To Sell Their Kids Online


We all know that there’s some seedy stuff on Craigslist. This is the internet, after all. But it’s so sad that desperate parents keep trying to sell their kids through Craigslist posts and connections. Just don’t do that.

The latest incident comes from Mississippi, where 23-year-old Bobbie Stojic tried to sell her 4-month-old boy to a woman she met on Craigslist. The two connected when Stojic posted looking for baby clothes. They began texting and Stojic eventually suggested that the other woman buy her baby for $US5,000. Brandon Normand from the local County Sheriff’s Department told WLOX local news that:

The young lady over in Louisiana had mentioned to Miss Stojic that if she needed assistance during her eviction process that she would offer assistance for the care of her 4-month-old. Miss Stojic had replied to her at some point and time . . . ‘Well, for $US5,000 you can have the child. Come and get him.’

The child is currently with the Department of Human Services, and Miss Stojic could face charges under Mississippi’s Offering To Sell A Child bill. Live5News points out that the bill has only been in effect since July 2009. But hopefully, that means that Mississippi hasn’t had a major child-selling problem in the past. Clearly the internet does, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This Drone Can Fly, Swim, Drive, and Hop Its Way Through a Mission


The future of military drones isn’t surveillance and dropping bombs. It’s transformation: a single unmanned vehicle that can fly, swim, drive, and even hop like a frog across a variety of terrains and obstacles.

Conceived by the Intelligent Systems, Robotics and Cybernetics unit at Sandia National Laboratory, theMulti-Modal Vehicle Concept” would travel land, sea, and air by transforming itself to accommodate different terrains. Its wings become fins as it dives into water, or underwater paddles that shed casings to reveal wheels as it moves toward land — wheels with the ability to jump 30 feet into the air. An entire campaign could be conducted by a remote operator or, more likely, semi-autonomously.

As it stands now, carrying out a similar mission would require coordinating a team of unmanned aerial, undersea, and ground vehicles made by different manufacturers with different communications systems. It would take careful planning to make sure all vehicles are in place at the right time. But Sandia says that because the Multi-Modal Vehicle is designed modularly and works off one interface, it won’t be subject to those same hang-ups, and that it can adapt mid-mission as conditions change.

“The real value added [of the Multi-Modal Vehicle] is that it allows maximum flexibility in highly complex missions without the concern over whether or not all of the vehicles are positioned just right,” said Jon Salton, a Sandia engineer working on the project.

Sandia has such high aspirations for the Multi-Modal Vehicle that they say it might eventually be able to carry out missions usually reserved for Special Operations forces.

“[Multi-Modal Vehicle] should be at least be able to substantially enhance the capabilities of Special Ops,” said Salton.

Thus far, Sandia has built and conducted limited testing on conceptual hardware, designating it a “mature concept.” Next on the list is to secure funding for the prototype and approach industry partners to turn the concept into reality.

Multi-Modal Vehicle does have its limitations. Because it sheds parts and material as it transforms from one mode to another, recovery is almost impossible — making every mission an expensive one-way trip.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Typhoon Haiyan: Philippines declares state of calamity


The Philippine President Benigno Aquino has declared a state of national calamity to speed relief efforts for victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

In a statement, he said the two worst affected provinces, Leyte and Samar, had suffered massive destruction and loss of life.

Thousands of survivors are still desperately waiting for the aid effort to reach them.

Up to 10,000 people are feared to have been killed.

Tacloban is one of the worst affected cities. The BBC's Jon Donnison, who is there, says there does not yet seem to be an effective operation to get help to those in need.

This is expected to change over the next few days, he says.


"One shirt. That's all I'm asking for": The BBC hears survivors' stories


The BBC's George Alagiah reports from a makeshift distribution centre at Manila airport

Hundreds of thousands more people have been displaced after the high winds and floodwaters destroyed their homes. Damage to roads and airports has delayed the delivery of aid.

One of the most powerful storms on record to make landfall, Haiyan - named "Yolanda" by Filipino authorities - struck the coastal provinces of Leyte and Samar on Friday.

It then headed west, sweeping through six central Philippine islands.


More than nine million people have been affected in the Philippines. Many are now struggling to survive without food, shelter or clean drinking water.

A picture is slowly emerging of the full damage wrought by the storm:

  • The exposed easterly town of Guiuan, Samarprovince - population 40,000 - is said to be largely destroyed
  • Three-hundred people were killed in the town of Basey, also in Samar, the provincial disaster office confirmed
  • Tacloban, Leyte province, was largely flattened by a massive storm surge and scores of corpses are piled by the roadside, leaving a stench in the air as they rot. Hundreds of people gathered at the airport desperate for food and water, others trying to get a flight out
  • Disaster worker Dennis Chong told the BBC that assessments in the far north of Cebuprovince had shown some towns had suffered "80-90% damage"
  • Baco, a city of 35,000 in Oriental Mindoro province, was 80% under water, the UN said.


A huge international relief effort is under way, but rescue workers have struggled to reach areas cut off since the storm.

However, reports from Tacloban say that soldiers have been on the streets distributing food and water to some residents and the US military has sent marines to the city.

The head of the Philippine Red Cross, Richard Gordon, described the situation as "absolute bedlam".

"It's only now that they were able to get in and we're beginning just to bring in the necessary food items... as well as water and other things that they need," he told the BBC.


Aerial footage shows devastation in Tanauan, Tacloban and Cebu

Jane Cocking, the humanitarian director for Oxfam, said her colleagues witnessed "complete devastation... entire parts of the coastline just disappeared".

A Philippine military spokesman was quoted as saying on Monday that 942 people had died in the typhoon's aftermath, though it is clear the official death toll will rise significantly.

Some 660,000 people have been displaced, according to UN figures, among a total of 9.8 million affected.

Senior UN humanitarian official John Ging said the UN's Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, was on her way to the Philippines.

A priority of the UN's response teams once on the ground would be the burial of bodies to meet concerns about public health, he said.


Three days after Typhoon Haiyan hit, aerial photos are revealing a scene of apocalyptic devastation along a swathe of the central Philippines.


The storm flattened houses, leaving thousands homeless in many areas.


In Tacloban, one of the worst hit cities, the storm washed ships ashore.


A 21-year-old woman lies exhausted on the debris-covered floor at a makeshift medical facility in Tacloban after giving birth to a baby girl. The storm surge swept away her mother.


The storm, by now much weaker, hit Vietnam in Ha Long City, causing damage and some casualties.

'Unprecedented' storm

Some are questioning what more authorities could have done to prepare for this, just the latest in a string of disasters to hit the nation of more than 7,000 islands.

Authorities had evacuated hundreds of thousands of people before the typhoon arrived, but many evacuation centres - schools, churches and government buildings - proved unable to withstand the winds and storm surges.

Haiyan brought sustained winds of 235km/h (147mph), with gusts of 275 km/h (170 mph) and waves as high as 15m (45ft). In some places, as much as 400mm (15.75 inches) of rain fell.

Officials said looting was widespread and order was proving difficult to enforce. Correspondents say many ordinary people are simply scavenging for the food and water needed to survive.

In some areas, the dead are being buried in mass graves.

American military aircraft and ships are being deployed to provide help. Aid is being flown into the only regional international airport at Cebu, with relief efforts focusing on Tacloban.

Other countries have also pledged millions of dollars in assistance. Australia has approved $9m in humanitarian aid to the Philippines, while New Zealand has pledged over $1m.


The Philippine envoy to the UN climate talks in Poland, Naderev Sano, shed tears as he blamed global warming for the typhoon.

"We can fix this," he said. "We can stop this madness, right now, right here."

However, the issue of whether the frequency and size of hurricanes is affected by climate change is hotly debated within the scientific community.

Typhoon Haiyan later made landfall in Vietnam, near the tourist destination of Ha Long Bay, with sustained winds of up to 140 km/h (85mph).

Despite losing much of its strength, the storm still felled trees and damaged buildings, with reports of some casualties.

Some 600,000 people were evacuated in northern provinces of the country.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Typhoon Haiyan Even Looks Terrifying From 35,400 Kilometres Away


Haiyan was probably the strongest recorded typhoon to ever make landfall when it crashed through the Philippines on November 8 — and it looks just as intimidating from 35,400km away.

This image, captured by the Japan Meteorological Agency and EUMETSAT, shows the storm as it raged. You can see the lights of the Philippines peep out at the bottom of the typhoon; South-East Asia and India are to the West, and Australia to the south. You can see the sun is setting over the Arabian Sea at the left-most of the image.

The storm has ravaged the Philippines, forcing millions to take shelter and claiming as many as 10,000 lives. The World Food Programme estimates that 2.5 million people will need assistance. You can help with that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Falling satellite causes no damage after re-entry


BERLIN (AP) — The European Space Agency says one of its research satellites that had run out of fuel caused no known damage after re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.

ESA said the satellite re-entered the atmosphere at about 0000 GMT Monday on a descending orbit pass that extended across Siberia, the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean and Antarctica.

ESA says "as expected, the satellite disintegrated in the high atmosphere and no damage to property has been reported.

The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, or GOCE, was launched in 2009 to map the Earth's gravitational field.

ESA says its information is being used to understand ocean circulation, sea level, ice dynamics and the Earth's interior.

It's been gradually descending over the last three weeks after running out of fuel Oct. 21.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this the most terrifying sea creature ever caught? Mystery species with fearsome tusk-like spikes and spines along its body is found off Borne


A mystery fish with terrifying tusk-like spikes near its mouth and spines along its body has been caught off the coast of Borneo.

The discovery has baffled fisherman in the area and the authorities are also scrabbling to identify the foot-long species.

Locals have temporarily named it the Armour Fish, courtesy of its sharp spines on the top and bottom of its body, which gets progressively smaller towards the tail.


Angler Sapar Mansor, 43, from Taman Ceria, Permyjaya, caught the fish in the South China Sea near Tudan, Malaysia.

He told the Borneo Post: 'This is the first time in my life that I have seen this type of fish. I brought it home to my wife and informed her of the rare catch.

Sapar said he and a friend went out in a fishing boat and travelled two hours from Miri River to the sea.

They started fishing at around 5am and landed his surprising catch about an hour after arriving at a location many miles from Miri.


The Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation Division of Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) is currently looking into identifying the creature.

Oswald Braken Tisen, the deputy general manager, said: 'SFC has not been able to established what kind of fish it is but is in the process of checking with relevant authorities.'

Sapar's wife Siti Kadariah and his children have taken to calling the creature 'Armour Fish' for now thanks to its sharp spines.

Siti, 35, added: 'My husband caught this rare species and I was surprised to see the fish.

'When my husband brought the fish home, both my children were stunned because of its shape and uniqueness.'

Siti has decided to dry the fish so that it can be preserved and kept at their home.

'It is God's gift and I and my family will keep the fish,' she added.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dark Knight Rises: ‘Batman son of Suparman’ jailed for theft


A Singaporean man whose superhero-sounding name turned him into a social media celebrity has turned out to be quite the villain.

Batman bin Suparman, which means “Batman son of Suparman” in the Malay language, was jailed for nearly three years on Monday for various offences, including theft breaking and entering and drug offences.

The unemployed 32-year-old was arrested on Aug. 19, after security videos showed him sneaking into a store at night on two separate occasions.

He is also accused of stealing his brother’s automated teller machine card to make withdrawals amounting to $650, and consuming heroin.

Batman, who was sentenced to a total of 33 months in jail, became a social media sensation after an image of his identity card was circulated online.

A “Batman bin Suparman Fan Club” page on social networking site Facebook has garnered nearly 11,000 likes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Filson have teamed up with American Expedition Vehicles for a special edition of their Brute off-roader. The customized Filson Edition AEV Brute features an unmistakable Filson signature interior, with a leather and dry Finish tin cloth finish, and a pair of rugged twill bags also included. The stylish adventure vehicle is powered by a 6-liter V-8 engine. More information at the Filson website.







Link to comment
Share on other sites



PetChatz is a newly presented pet communication system that enables you to interact with your pet from any place in the world throughout your day. Unless you work from home, your pet will spend many hours alone during the work days, but with PetChatz, you can interact with your pup or kitty making your day and your four-legged friend´s day become a little easier. Not only does it feature a two-way video system, it also allows you to dispense a small treat onto the floor with a push of a button, or dispense a scent! yes you read it well, the device features a scent dispenser. PetChatz also has sound and motion detection, so you´ll know when your pet is around. The system is remotely controlled through the PetChatz Web site, a tablet or smartphone app.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bonaverde Roast-Grind-Brew Coffee Machine


Take every step of the coffee preparation process into your own hands using the Bonaverde Roast-Grind-Brew Coffee Machine ($300). This machine does it all — starting off by roasting green coffee beans straight from the farm, then grinding them to the exact consistency you prefer, and finally brewing the freshest pot of coffee you've ever enjoyed.

The revolutionary machine is just one part of the service they offer. The other part is an online marketplace that lets coffee drinkers connect with farmers and buy beans directly, potentially changing everything we know about the coffee industry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Meet the real-life Magneto: German psychic claims he uses telepathic powers to manipulate metal just like X-Men supervillain


Meet the real-life Magneto, the psychic who claims to use telepathic powers to manipulate metal, just like the X-Men supervillain.

Miroslaw Magola says his mental powers are so strong he can even jump around with drinks cans, pots and pans or cutlery stuck to forehead, hands or chest.

The bizarre German insists after researching the phenomenon of psychic energy he exerts mind over matter and 'connects' himself to objects without using glue, adhesives or any tricks.

Mr Magola, 55, said: 'I found out I could train myself to manipulate lifeless objects as I studied for my degree in the early 90s.


'I have since spent years perfecting the technique and exploring further into human magnetism.

'I can defy gravity because I load myself with energy and - like moving a limb - can make objects do as I wish like a real life magnet.

'I am determined to develop my unique powers further in the future and I'm currently working with telepathy and healing to see how psychokinetic energy can be put to a use that will benefit mankind.'

In the hit X-Men comics and films, Magneto, who is played by Sir Ian McKellen, has the ability to manipulate electromagnetic fields meaning he can stop bullets in their tracks and levitate huge metal objects like submarines and tanks.

Mr Magola's powers may seem like something out of a comic book, with many people struggling to comprehend his abilities - others flatly refuse to believe him.

But the father-of-one refuses to be branded a 'fake' or 'cheater', revealing that his superpowers could potentially be mastered be everyone.

Mr Magola added: 'Magnetic people prove with mind power they are capable of lifting objects of different materials off the floor without aid.

'This can be done with the head or palms of the hands to hold objects vertically, horizontally or in circular movements.

'Some magnetic people are also capable of lifting objects from the floor with the palm of a gloved hand or even with talcum powder on the skin.

'You don't have be a scientist to see the difference in the demonstrations between magnetic people and sceptics, who attempt to fool people uses cheating techniques.

'The sceptics' demonstrations have nothing in common with the phenomenon of magnetic people as they do not break the laws of gravity.'


Mr Magola claims his mental powers are so strong he can even jump around with drinks cans, pots and pans or cutlery stuck to forehead, hands or chest


Showman: One of Mr Magola's main goals is to scoop a $1million prize - unclaimed for five decades - set for anyone who can prove they have supernatural powers

One of Mr Magola's main goals is to scoop a $1million prize - unclaimed for five decades - set for anyone who can prove they have supernatural powers.

The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge was launched by famed magician and sceptic James Randi in 1964 for anyone who can show evidence of faith-healing, telepaths, psionics, dowsing, precognative psychic friends with astral bodies, past life remembrance, or spectral manifestations of any kind.

Mr Magola is in training to banish popular myths surrounding human magnetism - as many claim people simply have 'sticky skin' - and intends to beat the feat in the near future.


Mr Magola claims that after researching the phenomenon of psychic energy he developed the ability to exert mind over matter and connects himself to objects


Mind power: Mr Magola claims his powers allow him to manipulate plastics as well as metals

He added: 'I have been waiting many years, training and researching techniques, in order to challenge for the $1million prize.

'I want to do it live in TV and cannot wait to get a reaction from an audience and prove to sceptics who claim it is all a hoax.'


Mr Magnola says he wants to prove his powers are real in a live TV performance

The James Randi Education Foundation, which was set up in conjunction with the challenge, receive hundreds of applications each year from people wanting to snap up the colossal fund.

A spokesman for the foundation said: 'The Foundation is committed to providing reliable information about paranormal claims. It both supports and conducts original research into such claims.

'we offer a one million dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event.

'Unfortunately to date, no one has passed the preliminary tests, but we always welcome new challengers.'

The control and power of psychokinesis is largely unknown, but many parapsychologists believe people can train their mind in order to affect the physical world.

Metaphysics expert Dr Ellie Crystal said: 'Everyone has the potential to be able to be telekinetic.

'Telekinesis is created by higher levels of consciousness. It cannot be created by 'wishing it' to happen on the physical level.

'The energy to move or bend an object is created by a person's thoughts created by their subconscious mind.'

MIKA: Mr Magnola would be a real hit at a Tupperware party! happy.pngbiggrin.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sweden Is Closing Prisons Due To Lack Of People To Put In Them


As the prison population spirals out of control in some parts of the world, Sweden finds itself with an interesting and opposite predicament: it has too many prisons and not enough prisoners. For this reason, the Scandinavian country recently decided to shutter four prisons and a remand centre.

The issue isn’t lack of crime in Sweden — in fact, the crime rate has actually increased slightly there — but rather a strong emphasis on rehabilitating criminals rather than locking them up. The prison population declined 6 per cent between 2011 and 2012. In the United States, by comparison, federal facilities are 40 per cent over capacity.

The New York Times highlighted this contrast in an editorial last week describing what the US can learn from European prisons, where the vast majority of stays are less than 12 months. In US state prisons, for example, the average is three years. It’s not just that prison stays are shorter in Europe, however; prisons treat prisoners differently, giving them more privacy and freedom, and generally gearing their time behind bars toward reentering society. And, at the end of the day, that produces better results than locking people up and throwing away the key.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

24 Accidental Scientific Discoveries That Changed The World

Gentle-voiced paint yogi Bob Ross used to say “we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.” What’s true in six-minute landscape painting is also true in the science world, as the glorious nerds at Mental Floss explain.

Some of these accidental discoveries are pretty well-known, at least among the type of folks who have enough free time and few enough friends to dedicate this stuff to memory (guilty). Some are really surprising, and kinda funny. So go on out there and keep accidentally mixing stuff with other stuff — you could be on your way to the next great scientific discovery.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jawbone's New UP24 Finally Brings Bluetooth To The Party


It’s kind of hard to believe, but Jawbone — a company that was built on Bluetooth — didn’t have a wireless radio in the first two iterations of its fitness tracker, the Jawbone UP. That finally changes today with the introduction of the Jawbone UP24.

Physically, the UP24 is essentially identical to the last version of the UP. It’s the same, wrap-around band. But now it has Bluetooth 4.0, so the UP24 will finally send real-time updates to your iPhone (and “soon” to Android phones), meaning you can get more detailed info about what you’ve been up to while you’re up to it. That’s a good thing, but it can hardly even be considered a catch-up move at this point. There’s still no display (or any other way to see your progress on the band itself), and there’s still no altimeter.

It’s also 20 bucks more than that last UP, and it only gets seven days on a charge, as opposed to 10. Frankly, why you would get this instead of the far more capable and less expensive Fitbit Force, we have no idea.

There’s a new 3.0 version of the UP app which will add a micro-goal setting program called “Today I will…” as in, “All week I’ve done nothing but eat potato chips and cry in my bathtub full of gravy, but today I will stand up and sit down at least three times!” Or something like that. Small, manageable goals is the idea. It can also estimate your sleep if you forget to switch it into sleep mode (which is handy), and it will applaud you for streaks and hitting milestones.

The UP 3.0 app will be rolling out for iOS this week and will work with both the UP24 and last year’s UP, but of course live updates will only happen with the UP24. The new app will be coming to Android “soon,” but you should probably expect it to take a little while to get the Bluetooth thing in working order.

The UP24 is available today for $US150 from Jawbone’s website, and will be for sale at Apple Stores starting November 19 (the original UP will continue to be sold as well). Ultimately, this seems like a ho-hum update, and too little too late. If you’re looking for a tracker for the summer holidays, the Fitbit Force, the Withings Pulse and the Basis B1 are all almost certainly better ways to go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Monster Machines: US Military's Mortar Launchers Get 21st Century Upgrade


Despite continued efforts to modernise and improve handheld mortars, like the 60mm M224 carried by American soldiers, soldiers today still aim it as their forefathers did in WWII: by looking over the barrel at a fixed analogue sight. But thanks to the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) rapid prototyping program, these venerable artillery launchers are about to get a 21st century upgrade.

Known as the Fire Control Unit (FCU), this prototype attaches to barrel of the mortar just below the muzzle. It uses a red dot sight for day aiming and a laser range finder for better accuracy at night. That might not sound like much now that even civilians have access to Aimbot-calibre rifles, but the invention has been warmly received by servicemen who have used it.

“The nighttime capability is awesome — I mean awesome,” said Sgt Garrett Dennard, mortars assistant instructor for the Infantry Officer Course in a press statement. “At night by the second round, I trusted it 100 per cent.”


Additionally, the mortar’s sling has been redesigned to prevent the unit from clanging around and betraying the troops’ position as it’s carried. A heat shield has been installed as well to prevent the user’s hands from being seared by the hot barrel.

The FCU is the result of the ONR’s TechSolutions program, which works with private and public sector scientists and engineers to rapidly design and build technologies requested by serviced members, typically within 12 to 18 months.


“If our guys can tee up targets at a quicker pace, and hit their targets with less shots, that’s a clear win not only on the battlefield, but in the cost category — which ultimately allows more training and opportunities for our warfighters,” said Tom Gallagher, who heads TechSolutions, said in a press statement.

While the military is remaining quiet on just how much more accurate the new scopes are, the USMC likes them so much it already has six prototype units en route to Afghanistan for further field testing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This Drone Could Actually Save Your Life


Drones may sometimes get a bad press as killing machines, but here’s one that could actually save your life. Put together by researchers in Iran, this autonomous flying machine is designed to help people who are drowning at sea.

Developed by the Tehran-based RTS Lab it’s called Pars, and it’s a multi-rotor drone that can carry and drop floatation aids to people who find themselves in troubled waters. In recent tests against a real-life lifeguard, the drone was able to provide a flotation aid to a dummy drowner, 75m from shore, in 22 seconds — 50 seconds faster than its human counterpart.

Packing GPS and a raft of LED lights, it’s also capable of performing manoeuvres at night, when it’s pretty risky for humans to get into the water and help those in need. The idea is that the drone would be a first responder, providing aid to those in the water more rapidly, before lifeguards can make their way to the scene.

With plans to roll out Pars internationally, we can perhaps expect to see a little drone sat atop a lifeguard seat in dangerous swimming areas before too long. Not quite as sexy as Baywatch, but probably far safer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guillermo del Toro gives Justice League Dark update


Guillermo del Toro has long been hopeful of getting a Justice League Dark movie greenlit, with Warner apparently keen on bringing the project to the big screen.

However, the studio seems to be taking its time over giving the film the go-ahead, with del Toro revealing he will likely have to fit his plans into the studio’s broader vision for an expanded DC universe.

“We’re still on [Justice League Dark] and writing and hopefully it will happen,” says del Toro, “but there’s no developments that are new. It’s still at Warners.

“They are making plans for the entire DC Universe, all the superheroes, all the mythologies, and part of that is Justice League Dark. They’re planning on TV, movies, all the media, so we have to fit within that plan.”

Whether or not that means the project will definitely appear as a movie, or might make its way on to TV remains to be seen, although with the weird and wonderful creatures in its roster, we’d be hoping for the higher budgets afforded by the big screen.

Quite frankly, we'll wait for this one no matter how long it takes, as a cinematic Swamp Thing courtesy of del Toro is a prize worth waiting for…

MIKA: More on what Justice league Dark is all about: JLD

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

Community Software by Invision Power Services, Inc.