WHEN I WAS A KID, flying was a budget-busting luxury for our family of five, impractical even for the occasional epic pilgrimages we'd make from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale to visit the grandparents. We drove. And so I became a family-road-trip virtuoso, a battler with my two brothers for rights to the "way back" seat in the station wagon, a keen-eyed sentry on the lookout for VW Beetles on the highway (which entitled me to punch my siblings), a connoisseur of car sickness—all the while with my nose pressed to the window, following the contrails crisscrossing the sky above us.
As a practicing physician in the obesity epicenter of the country, I was extraordinarily impressed by "The Unusual Suspects." I’ve been fussing at my patients for years about sleep and artificial sweeteners; it will be nice to reinforce it with some print.
Photographed from an ultra-light plane last December, these whooping cranes are being taught to fly south for the winter. Almost completely wiped out by 1940, there are now 536 known captive and wild whooping cranes in North America. But those raised in captivity will not migrate to warmer climes automatically—they have to learn the skill.
SCIENTISTS STUDY HUMAN-ROBOT INTERACTION THROUGH CHILD'S PLAY
Bristol Elumotion Robotic Torso 1, or BERTI, takes time to play rock-paper-scissors at London's Science Museum in February, while on a three-day vacation from the lab. A collaboration between Elumotion Ltd., a British robotics firm, and Bristol Robotics Laboratory, BERTI was built to help researchers study how robots could communicate using motion.
NINTENDO'S POCKET CONSOLE MORPHS THE WORLD AROUND YOU
Sure, the new DSi plays videogames, but it also lets you play with whatever you can see or hear. Sporting a doubly powerful processor and four times the RAM of its predecessor, the DSi can manipulate images from its two cameras (one facing you and one facing out).
Get news and reminders from bed. This clock radio has its own e-mail address, so pals can send it messages—“Let's do breakfast!"—that appear onscreen. Notes and data feeds, such as weather, are transmitted over a nationwide wireless network.
High-tech batteries aren’t just for early adopters driving Tesla’s all-electric roadster. The first cells for a hybrid will soon be fitted in the classic Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan. With a higher energy density, lithium-ion batteries provide the same wattage at a smaller size than the nickel-metal-hydride packs in other hybrids.
A NEW SET OF CHIPS GIVES SUPER-SLIM CELLPHONES THE POWER OF LAPTOPS
IN RELATED NEWS: HALF PHONE, HALF AUTOPILOT
Think of Toshiba’s TG01 cellphone as the world's smallest PC. It powers 3-D games, plays high-definition movies, and smoothly runs many programs at once, a combo few other phones offer. Yet it's less than four tenths of an inch thick—20 percent thinner than an iPhone—thanks to Qualcomm's Snapdragon system, which packs several previously separate chips into one case the size of a dime.
THE LATEST GOLF GEAR IMPROVES YOUR AIM, YOUR GRIP AND—HOPEFULLY—YOUR SCORE
1. CUSTOMIZE YOUR CLUB
2. MAP SHOTS
3. GET THE ANGLE
4. HOLD TIGHT
5. LUG LESS
Unbolt this driver’s head with the included wrench and reset it to one of eight positions to change how far your ball breaks left or right. Slightly tilting the clubface can shift the ball up to 40 yards to the side on a long drive. To alter the ball’s path further, swap weights in the head or switch to a firmer or more flexible shaft. TaylorMade R9 From $400; taylormadegolf.com
Garmin Approach G5
Swipe a touchscreen to navigate the thousands of course maps on this GPS unit. It displays distances to holes and hazards automatically; tap any other spot to see how far away it is. Garmin Approach G5 $500; garmin.com
Bushnell Tour V2
This palm-sized laser range finder uses an accelerometer to tell whether you’re standing on a hill. Then it adjusts its yardage measurements for the slope, so you can tailor your shot. Bushnell Tour V2 with Slope $400; bushnellgolf.com
Bionic Pro Golf Glove
Get a better feel but avoid calluses, with a leather glove that’s about 20 percent thinner than earlier models. Bionic Pro Golf Glove $40; bionicgloves.com
Sun Mountain Four 5
In this 4.5-pound bag, the lightest with club dividers, a fiberglass frame replaces the usual aluminum, and fabric dividers replace plastic. Sun Mountain Four 5 $220; sunmountain.com
SECURITY CAMERAS THAT RUN FOR A YEAR ON A SINGLE BATTERY
Keep an eye on any spot in your house, even where you don’t have an electrical outlet for a security camera. Avaak’s Vue is the first wireless cam to run on batteries, thanks to a transmitter that consumes 99 percent less power than Wi-Fi. Using wireless technology called FrameMesh, each three-inch-tall, 0.9-ounce Vue camera runs for a year on a $5 lithium-ion cell.
THE FDA FINDS DANGEROUS LEVELS OF MEDICATIONS IN WEIGHT-LOSS SUPPLEMENTS
The YouTube promo for Zhen de Shou weight-loss capsules is farcical: The camera slowly pans across photos of depressed overweight girls becoming euphorically thin and warns, “Beware of cheap imitations." But the ad hides a real danger. According to recent tests by the Food and Drug Administration, Zhen de Shou and 68 other weight-loss supplements manufactured in the U.S. and abroad contain undeclared pharmaceuticals.
MAKING THE STREETS SAFER WITH A SYSTEM THAT LETS CARS COMMUNICATE
NETWORKING THE STREETS
Car accidents kill 115 people a day in the U.S. and cost an annual $230 billion. Cautious drivers can avoid only so much danger, especially when it's a car running a red light, or a truck that pops out of a blind spot. But commuting could get safer with new in-car technology that warns you of that vehicle just around the corner— and even hits the brakes for you.
Members of the Zosteropidae family are not birds of a feather. White-eyes, sparrow-like songbirds, are the fastest-evolving bird on record. According to a recent genetic analysis of several dozen subspecies by Chris Filardi, a biologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, 80 species have emerged in the past two million years.
AN ARTERY-FIXING TOOL DOES ITS JOB, THEN FADES AWAY
Every year, 800,000 Americans elect to have a tiny metal-mesh tube inserted into their coronary artery to prop it open and improve blood flow to cardiac muscle tissue. It's an easy choice—the alternative entails cracking open the chest and operating on a stopped heart.
Doctors have miniaturized almost everything they need to send robots inside your brain's blood vessels to treat damaged tissue. But making a motor small enough to squeeze past blood cells has held things up. Now, engineers at Monash University in Australia have built a micromotor that brings bitty 'bots closer to reality.
FOUR ENERGY SOLUTIONS FOR AN ECO-FRIENDLIER WHITE HOUSE
Plug-and-Play Wind Power
Hot Water Out of Thin Air
Google Your Electric Bill
“Absolutely.” That's what Barack Obama told Barbara Walters last November when asked if he would make the White House more environmentally friendly. Of course, he wouldn't be the first. Jimmy Carter introduced a solar water heater in 1979.
A vision for making travel faster, greener and more fun
OTHER IDEAS TAKING OFF
THREE PATHS TO GREENER SKIES
2012: SEED FUEL
2020: ALGAL FUEL
THE LONG, SKINNY TUBE has to go. Tasked with improving the nation's air transportation, NASA wants airplanes to burn 40 percent less fuel than a 777 by 2020 and 70 percent less by 2030. Not only that, it wants those same planes to be whisper-quiet.
THINKING ABOUT BOOKING A TICKET TO SPACE? CHECK OUT OUR GUIDE TO THE LEADING CARRIERS
DON'T LET TODAY'S anemic airline industry fool you: Supersonic flight will rise again. By 2015, 12 years after the last Concorde flew, Lockheed Martin expects to complete the Quiet Supersonic Transport, a business jet that can zip a dozen hotshots from Chicago to Paris in as little as four hours.
IN A PUSH to reduce carbon emissions and relieve crowded airports, trains are quickly replacing airplanes. Europe, with its long tradition of train travel, has been particularly aggressive. In 2007 the European Commission initiated a plan that will triple its high-speed-rail networks by 2020.
PREFER DRIVING TO FLYING? WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE NEWEST FLEET OF ELECTRIC CARS AND PLUG-INS ON THOSE LONG HAULS
The idea of electric-car travel invariably spawns jokes about extension cords the length of Texas. Meager ranges, multi-hour charging and a lack of highway electrical outlets mean that most consumers still consider pure-electric vehicles a fantasy.
The Eiffel Tower? Predictable. Space Mountain? Kid stuff. This summer, wow the family with reality instead. Visit atom smashers, corpse farms and other wild scientific hotspots
Weekend with the Bear Essentials
VACATION WITH MARTIAN EXPERTS
SEE TSUNAMIS CRUSH MINIATURE VILLAGES
Watch a Parking Garage Buckle
Tour the Nation’s Only Frozen Cemetery
LEARN REAL CRIME-SLEUTHING SKILLS ON A CORPSE FARM
SPEND THE DAY CONVERSING WITH THE WORLD’S SMARTEST APES
Three Words: Subterranean Atom Smasher
FOR THE TRULY CURIOUS TRAVELER, we’ve collected eight one-of-a-kind research facilities guaranteed to impress and entertain like no ordinary tourist attraction can. On this list you'll find labs where you can ride a miner's cage half a mile underground to see a 6,000-ton neutrino detector, watch artificial earthquakes topple bridges, and converse with the world's smartest apes.
Why Are Airplane Seats So Miserable, and What Can Be Done about It?
Beleaguered, outsize traveler Eric Hagerman investigates
Or at least that’s the explanation I was given by Klaus Brauer, Boeing's immaculately articulate guru of airline interior design, whose conflicted job title is Director, Passenger Satisfaction & Revenue. "There are many good things about being 6'4", Brauer told me over speakerphone, from what I imagined to be a cushy office chair in Seattle.
The most ambitious weapons program in Army history calls for a whole new arsenal of connected gear, from helicopter drones to GPS-guided missiles. But what happens if the network that links it all isn’t ready?
WALL-E WENT TO IRAQ.
THREE FACTS ABOUT FCS
A CYNICAL TAKE ON FCS IS THAT THE ARMY IS SPENDING $200 BILLION ON A CELLPHONE.
REINVENTING THE RADIO
INSIDE THE FCS NETWORK
FCS CALLS FOR LIGHT VEHICLES TO STRIKE QUICKLY AND ACCURATELY—ESSENTIALLY, THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE NETWORK?
A PRECISE AIM
THE PORTABLE LAUNCH SYSTEM COULD FIRE GPS-GUIDED MISSILES SO ACCURATELY, THEY COULD STRIKE ENEMIES IN A NARROW ALLEY.
The small robot rolled out of the desert scrub into a village, paused between two houses, and then approached the closer one. His square head swiveled around, unblinking camera eyes surveying the structure. The sound of shuffling boots filled the air as six U.S. Army soldiers rushed in behind him, assault rifles drawn.
Will antimatter destroy the Catholic Church? Will Kirk beat up aliens? Will any of it sound even slightly plausible? Here’s a look at the Hollywoodified science hitting the big screen this summer, complete with our highly scientific Expected Gibberish Quotient (EGQ)
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
ANGELS & DEMONS
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS
G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA
This prequel reveals how Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) acquired his steel-gouging claws and indestructible skeleton. GEEK CANDY: The surgery scene, in which the fast-healing mutant is lowered into liquid to fuse his bones with the fictional metal adamantium, incorporates present-day robotic surgery techniques to make it look and feel more real.
For years, the U.S. intelligence community worried that China’s government was attacking our cyber-infrastructure. Now one man has discovered it’s worse: It’s hundreds of thousands of everyday civilians. And they’ve only just begun
THREE KEY FACTS
GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE
STUMBLING ONTO THE DANGER
A HACKER IS BORN
WHEN WILL WE CATCH ON?
AT 8 A.M. ON MAY 4, 2001, anyone trying to access the White House Web site got an error message. By noon, whitehouse.gov was down entirely, the victim of a socalled distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Somewhere in the world, hackers were pinging White House servers with thousands of page requests per second, clogging the site.
A ROBOT THAT TENDS BAR LIKE A PRO (AND NEVER NEEDS A TIP)
HOW BAR2D2 WORKS
BEHIND THE WHEEL
A veteran of the TV show Battlebots, Jamie Price has built plenty of destructive machines. But late last year, he designed a robot with a more mellow calling: offering cold beer and cocktails. The result—a masterpiece of plywood, plastic, aluminum and electric motors called Bar2D2—serves up everything but the sage advice.
Add a button from microfinance site Tipjoy.com to your Facebook page, blog or Web site to let your fans tip you for entertaining them. Or encourage your Twitter followers to text-message you some coin: Tipjoy tracks payment "tweets" (usually a dollar or so) and transfers the money via PayPal.
YOU KNOW BACON IS DELICIOUS, BUT DID YOU KNOW IT HAS ENOUGH ENERGY TO MELT METAL?
FROM TABLE TO TORCH
I recently committed myself to the goal, before the weekend was out, of creating a device entirely from bacon and using it to cut a steel pan in half. My initial attempts were failures, but I knew success was within reach when I was able to ignite and melt the pan using seven beef sticks and a cucumber.
Now that everyone’s gotten digital versions of their old favorites, music sites are feverishly building tools to point you to new music. If you're an iTunes user, get version 8 for the new Genius feature, which looks at whatever you're playing and makes suggestions based on iTunes Store shopping trends.
Jim Mason has created the ultimate alternativefuel vehicle: He figured out a way to run his Honda Accord by converting biomass—wood chips, agricultural waste or any other organic matter—into dean-burning fuel. (It gets about two miles to a pound.)
November 1970: "Enter the Meditator and surround yourself with the graphics which cover its walls... you may find the sensation akin to that mystical communion with nature that you experience when alone in a forest—or the sense of peace you feel in an empty cathedral."
Q Could there be a planet hidden on the opposite side of our sun?
What’s the chance that falling space debris will hit me?
A The sun might seem like a pretty huge galactic blind spot, but we’ve already managed to glimpse behind it, and there's nothing there in the way of another Earth, says NASA scientist Michael Kaiser, "unless it’s awfully tiny." Kaiser is the project scientist for NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission, which in 2006 sent two golf-cart-size satellites into orbit around the sun to study the explosions on the solar surface that are a major factor in space weather.
PLACE YOUR BETS ON THE MARKET THAT PREDICTS THE FUTURE
THE POPSCI PREDICTIONS EXCHANGE
WHAT IS THE PPX?
Will New York City’s transit authority extend computer control to more subway lines by the end of the year? Commuters in Paris and Tokyo long ago became acquainted with the robotic subway conductor. But only this year did the New York City subway system dip its toe in the 21stcentury transit-tech pool by installing automated trains on the L subway line.