JUST TWO MONTHS AGO in this space, I dangled the promise that tablet devices suitable for reading magazines in vivid color and dynamic presentation would soon be hitting the market, and that POPULAR SCIENCE would be there when they did. Then in late January (just after the issue with that editor's letter hit the stands), some guy named Jobs made Part One of my pledge come true.
Senior Associate Editor Lauren Aaronson offered a glimpse into the future of digital magazines with her profile of Mary Lou Jepsen ["Screen Queen," February], whose vibrant LCD screens promise to transform the kludgy black-and-white displays on most e-readers into glorious full-color video players fully optimized for publications like this one.
A WHISPERING GALLERY OF PHOTONS MEASURES NANOPARTICLES
In this illustration, a tiny particle alights on a doughnut-shaped piece of glass, demonstrating a new kind of detector developed by researchers at Washington University. The technology could someday detect viruses and measure nanoparticles engineered for pharmaceutical delivery.
In January, a missile struck a plane and two buses at Cologne-Bonn Airport in Germany, littering the tarmac with bodies: 14 dead and 77 injured. About an hour later, a suicide bomber went on to claim 23 more victims using a bomb containing cesium-137.
TECH THAT PUTS THE FUTURE IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND
A CLEAR ADVANTAGE
THE TRANSLUCENT VIDEO SCREEN ARRIVES
SCREEN: 2-in. active-matrix OLED touchscreen STORAGE: 16 GB PRICE: Not set (avail.summer) MORE INFO: samsung.com
Samsung's IceTouch media player—the first gadget with a see-through color video screen to hit stores—is a window into the future. At rest, it's a gray-tinted pane of glass, but it can instantly display full color across all or parts of its surface.
Bushnell's camera offers a new way to "shoot" game at night. Instead of a flash that spooks prey—or your pals at a party—it turns on 32 infrared lights, which illuminate anything within 45 feet once its light detector senses darkness. Bushnell Trophy Cam Trail Camera From $200; bushnell.com Thanks to five extra pins in its USB 3.0 plug, this 128-gigabyte drive copies data 10 times as fast as others.
MERCEDES'S WEATHERIZED CONVERTIBLE ATTEMPTS TO OUTWIT THE FOUR SEASONS
HEAD AND NECK HEATERS
SOUND-DAMPENED SOFT TOP
Unless you Live in, oh, Palm Springs, convertibles are better in concept than reality. With the top on, a pleasure machine can become a cramped, compromised ride. And even when the weather is perfect, backseat passengers can expect a case of windburn.
NEW TABLETS MAKE SIMPLE TAPS THE WAY TO INTERACT WITH YOUR COMPUTER
TWO IN ONE
The U1 looks like any 11.6-inch laptop. But pop out the screen, and it becomes a tablet with its own battery, interface and Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. Put it back in the base, and the halves communicate to keep programs running as it switches to the base's faster chip and Windows 7 OS. Lenovo U1 $1,000 (est.); lenovo.com
Notion Ink Adam
The Adam, slated for release by Indian start-up Notion Ink later this year, features a 10-inch screen from Pixel Qi that can flick from full color to a low-power grayscale mode for reading. The prototype can handle other media too: Its Nvidia Tegra chip rips through video and games. Notion Ink Adam Price not set; notionink.com
Consider the seven-inch SABRE a paperback-book replacement with Internet access, a resistive touchscreen, and Android or Linux. It's currently a design from Freescale Semiconductor, but it may be mass-produced this summer by a familiar brand. Freescale SABRE $200 (est.); freescale.com
THE TREND: Computers that are all screen, no keyboard. À la the Apple iPad, these upcoming touchscreen tablets use intuitive finger movements and easy-to-navigate operating systems, but each has its own twist. WHY NOW: Large touchscreens have become more affordable.
A MOTORIZED BICYCLE SUSPENSION AUTOMATICALLY ADAPTS TO CHANGING TERRAIN
HOW IT WORKS
Mountain-bike suspensions are difficult, if not impossible, to adjust while riding. Cannondale's Simon— the first completely computerized bike-suspension fork—features a hydraulic shock that can instantly change its resistance and how far it travels.
This 23.6-inch display's pixels change 120 times a second, twice as fast as most other monitors, which helps reduce blur in quickly moving action scenes. And when paired with a 3-D graphics card and glasses, it can also display 3-D games in full 1080p. Acer GD235HZ $400; acer.com
Microsoft Sidewinder X4
Play faster with a keyboard that can sense 26 presses at once. Using pressure-sensitive panels under each key and multitouch software, it can react to numerous commands. Older models, which use clusters of circuits to detect strokes, can read only four. Microsoft Sidewinder X4 $60; microsoft.com
Sound Blaster World of Warcraft Wireless Headset
This wireless set makes games sound more realistic. Software on your PC enhances both the high range (pistol shots) and low (rumbling tanks); the result beams over as uncompressed audio. Sound Blaster World of Warcraft Wireless Headset $160; creative.com
The E0N18 is the first laptop to run Intel's fastest mobile processor and two nVidia graphics cards, and it does so without overheating. Its cooling system has extra rear vents to remove the hot air produced by the high-power chips. Origin PC EON18 $3,500; originpc.com
The Imperator lets you customize your grip by sliding its side buttons about an inch back and forth. And the mouse's laser is the most sensitive available. You can tune its speed using dedicated buttons without stopping the game. Razer Imperator $80; razerzone.com
Gaming rigs are the Ferraris of computers: They're speedy and powerful enough to smoke any everyday PC. They have to be, to keep up with the graphics and 3-D effects you see in titles like the new BioShock 2, one of the most visually intense shooters yet.
Solar power sounds great: electricity from sunshine, for free, no carbon footprint. But solar panels often come with hefty price tags or require complex installations. Now lighter materials are making them less expensive and more convenient, whether you carry them with you or snap them onto your roof.
A NEW GEOTHERMAL ENERGY METHOD COULD TRIGGER A RISKY SIDE EFFECT: EARTHQUAKES
On December8, 2006, Markus Häring caused some 30 earth-quakes—the largest registering 3.4 on the Richter scale—in Basel, Switzerland. Häring is not a supervillain. He's a geologist, and he had nothing but good intentions when he injected high-pressure water into rocks three miles below the surface, attempting to generate electricity through a process called enhanced geothermal.
A NEW VIRTUAL FENCE TO DETECT INTRUDERS ALONG 2,000 MILES OF THE U.S. BORDER
HOW IT WORKS
STEP 1: DETECT THE DISTURBANCE
STEP 2: INTRUDER ALERT
STEP 3: GET THE PICTURE
STEP 4: BRING 'EM DOWN
Border-patrol agents have searched for smugglers crossing the Mexican border in much the same way for decades: by looking for fresh smudges in the dirt. Motion sensors monitor parts of the border, but oftentimes agents spend hours responding to what turns out to be a herd of cattle.
AN UP-THE-NOSE PORTABLE COOLING DEVICE HELPS STAVE OFF BRAIN DAMAGE
HOW TO CHILL A BRAIN
After cardiac arrest, lowering someone's body temperature can prevent life-threatening brain damage. It's so critical that New York City requires ambulances to take some patients up to 20 minutes out of the way to hospitals with cooling equipment.
A MARINER'S TOOL COULD HELP ASTRONAUTS NAVIGATE ALIEN WORLDS
It will probably take another decade to perfect the sophisticated rocket and life-support technology needed to put a human on Mars. But once we're there, NASA may use centuries-old technology to keep us from getting lost during a stroll. Apollo crews never left sight of their capsule, but explorers will be expected to roam farther on the Red Planet.
USING SCENTS TO RESTORE OLD BOOKS, FIGHT INFESTATION, AND IMPROVE BEHAVIOR
SNIFFING BETWEEN THE LINES
SCENTS OF DECENCY
To the novice nose, all old books have a similar musty scent. But scientists are peeling apart that odor's subtler characteristics to help preserve historical documents. They use standard chemical tests to detect 15 organic compounds emitted by paper that can signal that the book is decaying.
A JET ENGINE SHELVED IN THE '80s COULD IMPROVE AIRPLANE FUEL ECONOMY TODAY
In 1983, engineers at General Electric experimented with an "unducted fan” engine. Without the external casing, airflow through the blades increased, delivering more power for the same amount of fuel. The thing was loud, but the company pressed on because the trick could reduce fuel consumption by as much as 26 percent.
To take advantage of the strong winds that blow over the ocean, this gearless turbine uses a giant ring of magnets and 176-foot blades
HOW TO SPIN POWER
1. POSITION THE BLADES
2. CAPTURE THE WIND
3. TURN IT INTO ELECTRICITY
A TWIST ON BLADES
THERE'S ENOUGH wind energy along our coastlines to power the country four times over, and the race is on to build the best offshore turbines to capture it. Manufacturers worldwide are experimenting with two techniques: ever-longer blades to harness more gusts, and simplified drivetrains (including new generators) that slash the need for costly repairs at sea.
This 18-inch off-roader is made for play. But it packs an engine, starter and sensor system that are just like a real racecar's— at a tenth of the size
GAS-POWERED remote-control cars provide realistic racing fun. They burn a gasoline-like fuel called nitro (made of methanol, nitromethane and lubricant) with miniature internal combustion engines. Losi's Ten-T gets even more authentic by adding a starter that works like a diesel engine's.
A massive floating laboratory is attempting to drill through four miles of seabed to take samples of the Earth's mantle
RENA MARIE PACELLA
THE WORLD'S DEEPEST DRILL is about to get taller—tall enough to dig into Earth's semi-molten interior. Already, the Chikyu research vessel is capable of fetching samples at depths of 2,890 feet below the seabed, two to four times that of any other drill.
A piece of plastic the size of a credit card, combined with a book-size gadget, can diagnose as many deadly diseases as big laboratory machines can—but quickly, cheaply and in remote locations
MOST BLOOD TESTS require shipping vials off to a lab, followed by several days of nail biting. This kit, one of the first that can diagnose multiple diseases on the spot, shrinks an entire lab into a two-piece portable package that even novices can use.
What makes these everyday devices so innovative? We x-rayed them to find out
Surefire's military-grade torch shines more than 500 yards, even though it's not much bigger than your hand. Its LED combines four light-emitting chips on one circuit board, instead of giving each its own electronics and case. The result is a concentrated yet efficient beam. A processor regulates power to run for 100 minutes on high, 500 on low. SureFire M3LT $450; surefire.com
Spracht's phone headset packs more microphones than any other to transmit your voice clearly—and to double as a hearing-aid-like amplifier. The usual forward-facing mic captures your speech during calls. After you hang up, it and an extra front mic can refocus to boost sound from three to five feet away, helping you hear people in noisy rooms. In either mode, a backward-facing mic listens for ambient noise, like traffic, which the headset filters out. Spracht Aura EQ $100; spracht.com
Synaptics's concept makes it easier to control a touchscreen phone with just the hand that holds it. To select an icon on the screen, you can either tap the screen as usual or tap behind it using a capacitive touch panel on the phone's back. Mechanicalforce sensors in both sides let you take a call with a squeeze, rather than having to look at the screen to find an "answer" symbol. Synaptics Fuse Concept synaptics.com
These use the same kind of speaker found in most earbuds and earphones, a small moving coil that creates sound when it vibrates in response toa magnetic field. But simple tricks improve the sound without increasing cost. For instance, an extra-long eartube funnels tunes farther into your ear, and it flares at the end to help boost very high notes (think cymbals) that often get lost when forced through a small opening. Etymotic mc5 $80; etymotic.com
In addition to the customary blade, file and scissors, this updated Swiss Army knife holds a laser pointer, a Bluetooth presentation controller, a removable 32-gigabyte flash drive, and batteries to power them all. The drive protects your data with a fingerprint sensor plus password-protection software that, if it senses an attempted hack, will send an electric signal that literally blows apart the memory chip. Victorinox Presentation Master $300 (est.); swissarmy.com
This camera boasts a 30x optical zoom, the biggest yet in a point-and-shoot. The lens barrel, which measures less than two inches when closed and more than three when extended, hides 15 individual glass lenses. A precise motor moves groups of them back and forth to change the magnification, and the lenses' different curves and types of glass combine to bend light and focus the image. Olympus SP-800UZ $350; olympusamerica.com
Using off-the-shelf parts, a start-up built a rocket accurate and reliable enough to fly itself around the moon
WHAT'S NEXT FOR XOIE?
A ROBOTIC ROCKET that can repeatedly take off and land vertically would have endless uses: As a lunar lander that can park itself at a fuel station, gas up, and immediately relaunch to ferry supplies elsewhere on the moon. Or as a space-tourism craft that can touch down safely on helicopter-like landing pads.
A shotgun slug replaces lead with electronics to deliver a nasty but non-lethal jolt
INSIDE THE SHELL
It's midnight. You're a cop patrolling the wrong side of town when you spot a mugging. The assailant is about 40 feet away, out of range of your stun gun. You shout, but he darts down an alley. It's a dead end. The crook picks up a bottle, hurls it at your head, and makes a break for the street.
Bosch reinvents the common nailer, making a smaller tool with the nail-driving power of the big guns
PNEUMATIC NAILERS can slash the time it takes to fasten everything from window trim to roof rafters. The basic guts of the tool haven't changed since the 1960s: Compressed air pushes a piston thjat drives a rod, forcing nails deep into wood, before the tool resets for the next nail.
Understanding how the brain perceives the passage of time could lead to treatments for mental illnesses. Time perception, however, is a tricky thing to measure—so tricky that one scientist drops people from heights of 150 feet to watch how our brains shift into slow motion
YOUR BRAIN ON TIME TRAVEL
EXPLAINING THE ODDBALL
TIME TRAVEL AS MEDICINE
A FEW MOMENTS AGO, I was strapped into a harness and winched 150 feet into the air. Four massive steel girders support my weight, and I can see that I'm the highest object around for miles. I am about to become the fastest-moving man in science, and I can barely keep my breakfast down.
Be grateful, dear reader, that someone else does the hard, dangerous and downright grody work involved in truly audacious science
4DOOMSDAY FACT CHECKER
Multispecies Baby Tickler
IT’S NO CHORE to watch supermodels shake it in a nightclub. But Peter J. Lovatt, a former professional dancer and a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in England, must examine the often unflattering gyrations of everyone from preteens to the elderly in search of the influences and motivations behind human dancing.
AN ELECTRONIC DIDGERIDOO GIVES TRADITIONAL AUSTRALIAN MUSIC A NEW SPIN
HOW IT WORKS
Kyle Evans, a 24-year-old artist, bought his first didgeridoo in a small shop in Cairns, Australia, three years ago. The owner helped him pick out one of his handmade Aboriginal instruments, and after Evans taught himself to play, he decided to build an enhanced version: an electronically modified, Bluetooth-enhanced PVC pipe that cranks out didgeridoo-like sound with added digital flourishes.
Starting can be the hardest part. Warm up for your magnum opus by adding chapters to stories already in progress on the collaborative writing site protagonize.com. Once you're able to begin your own piece, join discussion forums for feedback and ideas.
MAKE A CLOCK THAT USES ATOMIC TIMEKEEPING FOR INCREDIBLE ACCURACY
Reading a clock is one thing; really knowing the time is quite another. For everyday timekeeping needs, we use a standard known as Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC, which is derived from International Atomic Time, a consensus of more than 200 clocks that keep precise time based on the movement of electrons.
HOW TO START A FIRE WITH NOTHING MORE THAN COMPRESSED AIR
You’ve probably seen contestants on Survivor trying to make fire by rubbing sticks together or concentrating sunlight with their eyeglasses. But among preindustrial fire-starting methods, it’s hard to beat the portable convenience of fire pistons, used in Southeast Asia since prehistoric times.
A TRANSFORMERS COSTUME THAT LOOKS LIKE IT JUST WALKED OFF A MOVIE SCREEN
TWO MORE TRANSFORMERS-INSPIRED PROJECTS
A veteran of costume contests, attorney Greg Adler outdid himself with the eight-foot costume of Bumblebee from the movie Transformers that he built to win the $7,500 prize in a contest in Las Vegas last Halloween. Adler constructed a wooden skeleton over a hiking backpack frame to support the torso, and used mailing and carpet tubes on wooden frames for the arms.
ASK A GEEK WHAT ARE VIRTUAL PCs, AND WHAT CAN I DO WITH THEM?
You’ve finally got your PC set up to your liking and running smoothly. So when you decide to add software later on, the last thing you want is something potentially unstable that could endanger the system. Although they’re not a replacement for antivirus applications, virtual machines can really come in handy.
1. Strip a bag tie and remove the wire (make sure you remove all the extra material from it). 2. Tape one end of the wire to a AAA or smaller battery’s negative side, and the other end to the bulb. Cover the wire with tape completely to avoid getting burned.
Never again will Mac users be unable to decipher what Lil Wayne is saying. Get Lyrical (free; shullian.com) adds words pulled from the massive LyricWiki Web site to any song in your iTunes collection. When the song plays, a small window pops up with all the lyrics, which you can modify if you think you know better.
This photo is not upside-down. A lover of odd projects, Instructables .com content manager Ed Lewis wanted to outdo all the other DIY bookshelves he had seen, so he flipped the concept on its head. The books are suspended with strips of elastic, for which Lewis spent hours figuring out the right specifications before stapling them to the shelf and attaching it to the wall.
AWe realize you're asking hypothetically. If you're looking to indulge in the other, other white meat but can't stand the idea of society branding you a cannibal, this might be the loophole you're looking for. And there are plenty of dishes to choose from.
Fifty years ago, German aerospace company Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm attempted a single-blade helicopter design, but in the end the copter had dangerous handling problems. In 1981, in an effort to save on materials and weight, the company shifted the concept to wind turbines.