ED SHADLE CAUGHT the speed bug young: soapbox derby, then teenage drag racing, then motorcycles (until broken bones forced a matrimonial concession), then lakesters on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Oh, and this too: on July 4 next year, Shadle intends to drive a converted F-104 fighter jet at 800 mph across the Black Rock Desert, breaking a land-speed record that has stood since 1997.
We need to change the relative costs of the various categories of energy production ["Power Plan”]—waiting for shortages to do it for us puts us even further behind on addressing climate change. We should be shifting the economic costs to speed alternative-energy development and production.
A HEART-PUMPING MACHINE LETS RESEARCHERS EXPERIMENT WITHOUT GOING WHOLE HOG
A pig heart, procured from a slaughterhouse, beats on the Heart Cart. Because pig hearts share many anatomical similarities with humans', scientists often use them to test new medical devices and surgical procedures. Instead of operating on the entire, living hog, which costs about $2,500 for each experiment, the Heart Cart lets researchers work on just the hearts, dropping that cost to $25, by pumping them with a saline solution to make the heart valves move realistically.
What's more disgusting than cockroaches? Mites that feed off cockroaches. Here, mites munch moist debris from around the breathing holes of a Madagascar hissing cockroach, an insect sometimes kept as a pet that, unfortunately, can trigger allergies.
TECH THAT PUTS THE FUTURE IN THE PALM UF YUUR HAND
TORQUE: 30 lb.-ft. HORSEPOWER: 18 BATTERIES: 76.8-volt Lithium-iron phosphate, 3.5-hour recharge time PRICE: $12,000 GET IT: brammo.com
Harley riders might have a hard time getting used to the first street-legal electric motorcycle to hit stores. It sounds more like a Prius than an exhaust-spewing hog—that is, silent. But the Brammo Enertia is meant for commuters, not Hell's Angels.
AUTO TUNER No need to futz with the radio dial to find the clearest frequency for beaming iPhone tunes to your car stereo. The TuneCast uses the phone's GPS to determine your location and then searches a database for empty stations nearby. Belkin TuneCast Auto Live $80;
LAPTOPS AS LIGHT AS THE MACBOOK AIR—FOR HALF THE PRICE
2.9 POUNDS, 0.8 INCH THICK
3.8 POUNDS, 0.9 INCH THICK
3.5 POUNDS, 1.1 INCH THICK
The MSI X340 is the only 13-inch laptop lighter than the Air, and at 0.79 inch thick, it's only three hundredths of an inch fatter. It sheds weight by using a small battery but still runs for four hours per charge, courtesy of one of the lesspowerful, more energyefficient processors. The chip draws 5.5 watts, compared to 10 for many ultrathin models and 25 to 35 for ordinary laptop chips. MSI X340 $900 ; msimobile.com
HP's dv2z demonstrates how to fit extra computing power into a thin case. A new version offers a chip that doubles the number of processors while drawing only 20 percent more watts. How? The two chips are actually exactly the same. The faster (and somewhat costlier) one just makes use of a second processor that's disabled in the original. HP dv2z From $600; hp.com
Most thin laptops get very hot, because tightly packed electronics don't let heat escape easily. Acer cools the Timeline's case with a new trick that doesn’t rely on energy-hungry fans. Instead of vents that aim fresh air right at the chip, a channel shuttles air across the inner lining of the case first, so your lap stays cool during eight hours of battery life. Acer Aspire Timeline 3810T From $600; us.acer.com
THE TREND Ultrathin, affordable laptops: Think of these machines as the love children of netbooks, which are small and inexpensive yet slow, and full-power six-pound machines, which can run more-complex programs. WHY NOW Netbooks, this year's hit, show that skinny sells.
LEXUS DELIVERS A REAL BREAKTHROUGH IN THE HUMAN-AUTOMOBILE INTERFACE RACE
Since satellite radio, Bluetooth-connected cellphones and navigation systems all began competing for a driver's attention, car companies have been trying to develop control systems intuitive enough that drivers can command their car's gizmos without careening into a tree.
You don’t need big speakers to get big sound from your television. Emo Labs's Edge Motion pumps tones out of a vibrating plastic sheet, just two hundredths of an inch thick, that sits over a TV screen. Its wide surface produces louder and more realistic sound than the small speakers in most TVs, but it takes up a lot less room than a separate stereo system.
FRESH-FROM-THE-LABTECH COULD CHANGE HOW STUDENTS CRAM
This noise-canceling headset uses an unprecedented eight microphones to listen for din, so it can accurately generate opposite sound waves. Break time? A Bluetooth link lets you stream music or make calls from your phone. Nokia BH-905 Price not set; nokia.com
Sit comfortably no matter how you squirm. The Setu's injection-molded plastic flexes at different rates in different spots—like tilting your spine back and your knees up as you recline—thanks to cutouts that dot the frame. Herman Miller Setu From $500; hermanmiller.com
Asus Eee PC T91
OK, it's a laptop, not a book. But with a touchscreen that folds back to become a page-size tablet, the small netbook now makes a great e-reader. Just add free viewing software, like Adobe Digital Editions, for common book formats. Or use it to surf the Web. Asus Eee PC T91 $500; asus.com
This pen is already a mini computer that digitally saves your notes. In October you'll even be able to download programs onto it. Apps may include translators—tap a word on paper to see it in Spanish on the pen's screen—and card games. Livescribe Pulse From $150; livescribe.com
Humanscale's energy-efficient LED lamp casts an even glow. Its LED packs many light-emitting chips tightly together, eliminating the shadows caused when chips are separated by individual cases. Humanscale Element $400; human scale.COM-NATALIE AVON
A SMALL TEAM OF SCIENTISTS PROVIDES THE MOST ACCURATE FORECASTS EVER
Last September, five days before Hurricane Ike pulverized the Texas coast, the National Hurricane Center pegged a point near Corpus Christi as the storm's most likely landfall. Residents of the low-lying region around Galveston, some 250 miles north, breathed a sigh of relief.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST PUMP STATION OFFERS HURRICANE RELIEF FOR NEW ORLEANS
HOWTO KEEP NEW ORLEANS DRY
CLOSE THE GATES
TURN ON THE PUMPS
KEEP OUT DEBRIS
New Orleans sits smack dab between the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Pontchartrain, and when a hurricane comes rolling in, those bodies of water tend to spill into the streets. This summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started construction on a barrier that can block a 16-foot swell blown in from the Gulf and a massive pumping station that will blast floodwaters back to sea.
A STRONGER, SAFER TOOTH FILLING MADE FROM DIGESTIVE JUICE AND SILICA
The ancient Greeks thought an excess of bile could make you angry or melancholy, but Julian Zhu thinks the digestive juice could improve your smile. Zhu, a chemist at the University of Montreal, hit upon the idea while developing a bile-acid-based gel for tissue repair.
Having scrubbed the notoriously squalid streets of Paris spotless, the French have set their sights on a bigger clean-up project: the expanding swarm of space debris circling the planet. French spaceflight engineer Brice Santerre of the European aerospace company EADS Astrium has constructed the Aerobraking Sail for bringing defunct satellites out of orbit.
HARRY KLOOR MAKES ONE GIANT LEAP INTO MOVIES, TO TEACH ABOUT QUARKS AND PHOTONS
Q: Why is NASA making a CGI movie?
Q: What’s the plot?
Q: This has to be the first time a photon has gotten a starring role in a film.
Q: How else does this film stand apart from the average space flick?
JOHN SCOTT LEWINSKI
Harry Kloor may be the world's most well-rounded nerd. He is the only person to have earned doctorates in physics and chemistry simultaneously, and he has penned episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. And when NASA asked him for help in improving its image with young people, he drew on both of those experiences.
NEW WAYS MATH CAN HELP YOU STAY AWAKE, CLEAR CLOGGED DRAINS, AND SOLVE ANCIENT MYSTERIES
RED-EYE FLIGHT RELIEF
THE SOUND OF SLUDGE
UNSCRAMBLING ALPHABET SOUP
If you drag after a transcontinental flight, imagine yourself after a trip to Mars. To aid frequent flyers and future Marstronauts, researchers at the University of Michigan and Harvard MedicalSchool wrote software that models complex internal timing systems like our circadian clock.
An enemy missile has no strategic value if its computer is down. A highpower-microwave emitter can disable its electronics on the launchpad, leaving bystanders unharmed, and now Texas Tech University engineers have a plan to scale down the truck-size tech.
In 1950, Alan Turing, the father of computer science, proposed a test for machine intelligence: Ask a human and a computer a guestion, and see if another person could discern the digital answer from the biological one. Now IBM engineers have devised a tougher task for Watson, their latest supercomputer: Jeopardy.
The age of remote-control warfare isn't coming—it's here, and not even the Air Force, which made it happen, is entirely prepared. Inside the struggle to train thousands of drone pilots virtually overnight
A MOVING TARGET
THE COMMAND CHAIN: HOW UNMANNED AIR STRIKES WORK
THE NEW FACE OF AIR POWER
PATTERNS OF LIFE
WITHOUT TRAFFIC, it takes Captain Adam Brockshus about 45 minutes to drive from his four-bedroom suburban home outside Las Vegas to Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada. His commute follows Highway 95 northwest through a stretch of the Mojave freckled with Joshua trees and flanked by arid mountain ranges.
DRILLING A GEOTHERMAL WELL TO HELP COOL AND HEATTHE DREAM HOME
Get Green for Going Green
JOHN B. CARNETT
ANY GREEN HOME worth its weight in compost draws heavily on solar energy. Mine is equipped with all the standard offerings, such as a solar-powered boiler, the subject of my last column. Trouble is, the sun doesn’t always shine. So to make up the difference during cold, dark winters and rainy spells, I'm turning to another eco-friendly energy source: my backyard.
...explore the deepest caves? Design the cars of the future? Fire rockets? Don't wait until you graduate Here are 10 college programs that offer the most fun per credit—and can help you land your ideal job
HUNT FOR MARTIAN MICROBES?
DIVE WITH JELLYFISH?
WALK IN THE ANCIENT WORLD?
FIRE BIG ROCKETS?
DESIGN LUNAR HABITATS?
If you want to be one of the six lucky undergrads to get off the waiting list and into Hazel Barton’s course, you’d better like tight spaces, heights, the dark, bats and getting dirty—and that’s just to get to the bacteria. Unlike microbiology majors at other schools, the ones laboring over microscopes and petri dishes all day, Barton’s students study extremophile microbes where they thrive:
Three programs where students conceive products for the world’s poor
COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES HUMANITARIAN ENGINEERING
PENN STATE UNIVERSITY HUMANITARIAN ENGINEERING AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
STANFORD UNIVERSITY ENTREPRENEURIAL DESIGN FOR EXTREME AFFORDABILITY
To earn this 18-credit minor, CSM students take engineering classes focused on solving humanitarian challenges, including groundwater mapping and sustainable energy systems. The program began partly in response to industry demand for engineers with cultural awareness.
WHERE: Engines and Energy Conversion Lab (EECL), Colorado State University WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: How to make a 2,300hp engine run cleaner JOB PROSPECTS: Mechanical engineer, chemical engineer TYPICAL ASSIGNMENT: Design a laser-ignition system for a new type of natural-gas generator Take it from CSU postdoc Sachin Joshi, you haven't really seen an engine until you've climbed inside one.
Never mind all the crowing on American Idol. These rising young stars are poised to change the world with their bright ideas, and top universities are vying for their attention
INDUSTRIAL-STRENGTH GEOTHERMAL GENERATOR
SOLVENT TO ISOLATE CARBON NANOTUBES
PEDAL-POWERED GRAIN-THRESHING MACHINE
CANCER DRUG WITH FEWER SIDE EFFECTS
SOLAR GENERATOR THAT TURNS MIST INTO WATER
NOVEL SOLAR CELLS THAT BEAT COMMERCIAL OPTIONS
AEROPONIC FOOD CHAMBER FOR THE MOON
NASAL SPRAY THAT REGULATES SUGAR LEVELS IN DIABETICS
Every year, instead of prepping for prom or hanging out at the mall, thousands of high-school students are busy in labs, basements and classrooms finding fresh solutions to age-old problems. We've scoured the country to find the brightest among them, settling on eight teen talents who make Thomas Edison (whose first patented invention didn't come until the ripe old age of 21) look like a late bloomer.
The world’s most prestigious universities have begun posting entire curricula on the Web—for free. But how much can you really learn with a DIY online education?
MIT FOR FREE
THANK GOD FOR FLASH CARDS
(SORT OF) LIVING UP TO MY POTENTIAL
I WAS NOT SCREWING AROUND. when I took the first physics class of my life, at age 35, it was at the Massachusetts institute of Technology, and my professor was Walter Lewin, one of that institution's most respected instructors. Lewin is a man so comfortable with his vectors that he diagrams them in front of a classroom audience while wearing Teva sandals.
NUCLEAR FUSION, ENDLESS ENERGY AND HOMEMADE STARS MIGHT BECOME POSSIBLE WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S NEW MACHINE
HOW ENERGY IS AMPLIFIED A QUADRILLION TIMES
The laser that will fire at targets this fall at the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, California, isn’t just more energetic than other lasers; it produces beams with 60 times as much energy. What to do with all that power? Ignite a nuclear-fusion reaction, of course.
MEET LRRY, A PART-EQUINE, PART-REPTILE FIRE-BREATHING MONSTER
RENA MARIE PACELLA
Don’t call Lyle Rowell's giant firebreathing robot a dog. The artist, who lives in Rimini, Italy, insists that his 1,900-pound creation, Lrry (pronounced "Larry”), is actually a cloven-hooved, two-legged, half-donkey, half-raptor-type-reptile.
CONTROL YOUR APPLIANCES IN THE DARK WITH A HIDDEN SYSTEM THAT WORKS JUST BY PLACING YOUR HAND ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND
ANSWER THE PHONE WHEN IT'S PITCH DARK
A TOUCH-ACTIVATED SPEAKERPHONE
IT'S THE MIDDLE of the night, when suddenly you're jarred awake by your ringing phone. It must be urgent, so you can't waste time—or worse, miss the call—fumbling around trying to find the receiver. Instead, simply touch your hand to the top of your bedside table to answer the speakerphone.
I can’t stand diamonds. No, really, they just tick me off, because nearly everything about them is a lie. Diamonds are neither rare nor intrinsically valuable nor uniquely romantic. Those are ideas invented by the diamond industry. And no, despite what the ads tell you, diamonds are not forever.
One word: performance. If you’re a gamer, a designer or a movie lover, you'll need a full-fledged laptop. Even low-end models like the $550 Gateway MD have large screens and feature fast processors and lots of memory that let you easily run multiple programs or powerful apps like Photoshop.
1. Cut a hole in an SD-card case, and insert an LED. 2. Wire two three-volt batteries together, and tape one of them to one of the LED's terminals. 3. Align the other terminal so it touches the other battery, turning on the LED, when you squeeze the case.
To get rid of the mess of wires from his many videogame consoles, POPSCI reader Brian De Vitis decided to repurpose his R2-D2-shaped cooler. The engineering student modified its legs and repainted it to look more realistic. Then he stacked the motherboards from the eight consoles on shelves inside, added a sound system, and rearranged the inputs so he could plug in controllers from the outside.
This site shows step-by-step teardowns and detailed repair guides for dozens of computers: and electronic gadgets, to help you diagnose problems and replace parts yourself. If you need a new part for one of your devices, the site also sells everything, right down to the tiny screws.
Q Do other animals have trouble with wisdom teeth?
How fast would someone have to sprint to run on water?
Is there any scientific way to measure how bad a fart smells?
A The third molars—the last of a group of teeth that grinds food into easy-to-swallow chunks—tend to be overcrowded in adult human mouths, and thus require yanking. But every other toothed mammal has room for their "wisdom teeth,” and so did Neanderthals and other early hominids, says evolutionary biologist Leslea Hlusko of the University of California, Berkeley.
HIGH FLYING: MORE CREWLESS COCKPITS THROUGH THE YEARS
One of the most advanced aircraft of its time, Aquila was the first type of remotely piloted air vehicle that could perform multiple tasks in flight. Designed by Lockheed Missiles and Space Company for the U.S. Army, the unmanned plane was used for scouting and relaying live video back to the base.