I WAS THINKING today about the late Father Richard Polakowski, S.J., my senior-year English teacher at the University of Detroit High School. Polo, as we called him (though not, I think, to his face), was one of those pedagogical giants whose scrutiny could be withering and whose approval was cherished—which is why I have never forgotten the night my mom and dad returned home from parent-teacher conferences and told me how Father Polakowski had praised my writing.
"Gone" is right. My first reaction to January's cover was that it was a cryptic (and perhaps caustic) reference to the CIA spy drone [a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel] that Iran captured—seemingly in one piece, no less—just before the issue came out.
At Dalian Hoffen Bio-Technique Company in northern China, people turn other people into plastic. Plastination is a four-step process during which polymers replace water and fat molecules in biological specimens. Plastinated bodies don't decompose, and museums and medical schools can display them with exposed muscles, veins and brains in exhibits around the world.
Light 18-volt batteries have become the standard for cordless power tools, but they often underperform when faced with difficult tasks such as boring large holes into wood or metal. To produce more strength without resorting to a heavier, higher-voltage battery, engineers at Milwaukee redesigned the motor of the new M18 Fuel drill.
The incandescent-bulb ban spurs a race for the next big thing in green illumination
In October, manufacturing 100-watt incandescent LLghtbulbs will become illegal under the U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act. As part of the same Legislation, 60and 40-watt ones will be banned by 2014. Compact fluorescents (CFLs) are the simplest-to-make replacement but contain the neurotoxin mercury, have a bluish hue, and don't illuminate Instantly.
Griffin's dongle connects any instrument with a quarter-inch plug—guitars, basses, keyboards— directly to an iPad or iPhone. Joined to the device's 30-pin port, the GuitarConnect Pro allows users to relay tunes directly into GarageBand or any other music-editing software.
How the retro-styled Yamaha Moegi demonstrates the future of fuel efficiency
Since the days of $4 gas began, the single-cylinder motorcycles and scooters that dominate international megacities have become increasingly common on American streets. Engineers at Yamaha created the Y125 Moegi concept to capitalize on that trend.
LCD e-readers have one big advantage over e-paper ones: color. But what makes LCD screens so vibrant is also their downfall—the backlight necessary to illuminate pixels adds heft, slashes battery life, and can strain readers' eyes. LCDs require a protective layer, typically glass, so they suffer from extreme glare in direct light.
IN LATE 2010, Verizon rolled out its 4G LTE network, which offers data speeds 10 times as fast as 3G networks. But as mobile data traffic continues to grow— experts anticipate that it will increase 26-fold in the next three years—it’s unlikely that any network will be able to keep up.
With the $1,000 genome, medicine has a new problem: too much information
Decoding the Double Helix
SCIENTISTS NEEDED $3 billion and 13 years to sequence the three billion base pairs encoded in a single human genome—the first time. By 2011, eight years after that first project was completed, the cost of sequencing a human genome had fallen to $5,000, in a process that took just a few weeks.
Visualizing data patterns to help get ahead of the flu
BREAKING OUT THE DATA
Strains of seasonal influenza behave slightly differently season to season and strain to strain. The differences are revealing. The rate of transmission of the 1918 pandemic, which killed 40 million people, closely mirrors the data from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic.
A man who worked in a lead and gold mine in southwest Uganda died suddenly from a hemorrhagic fever. Concerned that it could be the beginning of an outbreak of Marburg virus, which is similar to Ebola, doctors sent a blood sample to the Uganda Virus Research Institute, where pathologists confirmed that Marburg was indeed the cause of death and alerted the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Redesigning the toilet to produce water, fertilizer and energy
About 2.6 billion people worldwide do not have access to a sanitary toilet. To fix this, the Bill and Melinda Cates Foundation awarded eight grants last year to scientists and engineers to invent a toilet that could function without piped water, a sewer system or outside electricity—and would cost less than 5 cents a day to operate.
"We are incorporating optical displays, radios and computer chips into contact lenses"
WE MADE A LENS that displays a single pixel that can be turned on and off wirelessly. An integrated circuit stores the energy, and a light-emitting diode shoots light toward the eye, but the optics are tricky. You can’t focus on something that’s that close.
MY FIRST MIGRAINE arrived in a fuzzy cloud of reds and purples, a stab of pain that left me bent over in the back of an auto-rickshaw, squinting and nauseous, on my morning commute to Connaught Place, in New Delhi. Months later, when I left India, I thought that the headaches would disappear along with the chaos of the overcrowded capital.
Meeko the calf Stood nuzzling a pile of hay. He didn’t seem to have much appetite, and he looked a little bored. Every now and then, he glanced up, as though wondering why so many people with clipboards were standing around watching him. Fourteen hours earlier, I'd watched doctors lift Meeko’s heart from his body and place it, still beating, in a plastic dish.
Can Brendan Foley and an army of shipwreck-seeking robots transform maritime archaeology?
Finding Shipwrecks Faster
Portrait of a Shipwreck
EARLY LAST OCTOBER, Brendan Foley found himself on a small, inflatable boat making rings in the middle of the Aegean Sea. The 43-year-old maritime archaeologist was waiting on three divers, who were searching for ancient shipwrecks 100 feet below.
On August 5, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will reach the outer edge of the Martian atmosphere. The 8,500-pound craft will have traveled 352 million miles at speeds of up to 13,200 mph, but Its real work will have only just begun. Over the next seven minutes it will plummet through 80 miles of atmosphere, withstanding temperatures of up to 3,800°F, and guide itself to a sudden halt in the massive Gale Crater.
Taylor Wilson always dreamed of creating a star. Now he's become one.
A young woman guides their group toward a full-scale replica of the massive Saturn V rocket that brought America to the moon. As they duck under the exhaust nozzles, Kenneth Wilson glances at his awestruck boy and feels his burden beginning to lighten.
A compact mechanical crossbow that nails targets with the precision of a laser
Building a hand-mounted crossbow
THREE MORE DIY PROJECTILE LAUNCHERS
LAST OCTOBER, after hurting his knee playing hockey, Patrick Priebe was holed up in his apartment near Cologne, Germany, with nothing to do. He was sitting at his computer, staring at his keyboard, when the “Y” key caught his eye. Priebe didn’t see a letter.
Our columnist tests his trust in science by clipping his finger in molten lead
QUICK DIP The full demonstration—lasting a fraction of a second—in photos
LAST YEAR, I stuck my hand in super-cold liquid nitrogen for the amusement of POPSCI readers. My skin survived that demonstration [see bottom photo, right], but I wimped out on a related experiment at the opposite extreme: dipping my finger into molten lead.
Can I update the software on my old Android phone?
Manufacturers of Android smartphones often won't provide an updated, custom version of the operating system for models they no longer sell, so users can't take advantage of new features. For older phones, there's a workaround: CyanogenMod, a free OS built from the source code for the latest versions of Android that Google releases to developers.
Fill a large ziplock bag one guarter of the way full with calcium chloride ice-melt pellets (available at most hardware stores). Fill a smaller ziplock bag halfway with water, close tight, and place inside the first bag. Squeeze the smaller bag until it breaks open, to create a heat-producing reaction between 20 minutes and an hour.
Point an iPhone or iPad's camera at a face from up to a few feet away, and Cyborg Vision ($1 on iTunes) uses a facial-recognition programming interface and Facebook to call up the person's name, gender, hometown and other available details—and displays it the way the robots in the Terminator movies would see it.
Q WILL PEOPLE EVER EVOLVE OUT OF CRAVING UNHEALTHY FOODS?
Q Do competitive eaters nave unusual stomachs?
MAYBE, BUT IT'S GOING to take a long time. For the past 200,000 years or so, fatty and sugary foods were hard for humans to come by and well worth gorging on. Fats help maintain body temperature, sugars provide energy, and craving such food is hardwired: Eating fats and sugars activates reward centers in the brain.
When Tulane University researcher Keith Reemtsma began working on primate-to-human organ transplants in 1963, he was decades ahead of his time. "Human-to-human transplants were still failing more than 50 percent of the time," he said.