Flight is freedom. The power to rise into the air and reach a destination unshackles us from gravity, distance, topography, and time. This is why we, as a publica tion, return to flight so often. It is humanity's greatest victory against the limitations of being human.
COSMOLOGY LESSON: LIGHT-YEARS (DISTANCE) VS. YEARS (TIME)
FASTER THAN LIGhT?
WHAT A WONDERFUL and insightful article by Brian Lam ["Apex Predator," May 2013]. I know many people are terrified of sharks, but they truly are beautiful specimens. If this technology can save them from extinction, well, that would be truly remarkable.
In February, astrobiologist Gernot Grömer found himself on Mars in the midst of a desert storm. Well, he felt like he was on Mars. In reality, he was in the Sahara, participating in a monthlong simulation in eastern Morocco. While there, Grömer and his 10-person crew from the Austrian Space Forum (a volunteer organization of aerospace professionals) tested lasers, weather stations, and deployable shelters in the quasi-Martian environment. When communicating with their control center, they mimicked the delay between Earth and the red planet. They also wore spacesuits equipped with an air-ventilation system and contamination-proof compartments to preserve samples of possible extinct life.
WHEN MICROSOFT DEBUTED the Surface tabletop computer in 2007, the company envisioned groups of people sitting around a giant screen, sharing videos and playing games. But the Surface and the second-generation Samsung SUR4O are hugely imprractical-too large for the typical living room, and too expensive for the average consumer.
The Impact Shield is the toughest screen protector available. As thin as a sticker, it's composed of three layers: The hard top layer disperses blows, the middle one prevents cracks with a material used in bulletproof glass, and the soft base absorbs energy.
Can the new Super Soaker out-douse the competition?
Nerf Super Soaker Switch Shot
When the original Super Soaker debuted in 1989, it changed backyard water wars forever. With a pressurized reservoir system, it could hold more water and shoot farther and more accurately than its dime-store squirt-gun competition. As the rest of the field played catch-up, Super Soaker tanks grew larger—the biggest topping one gallon—which made for more soaking but also long refill times.
Your next pair of sneakers will be Printed-to-order
Nike Vapor Laser Talon
Brooks C1ycerin 11
Custom-fitted shoes do more than increase comfort; they can improve performance and even reduce the risk of injury. But made-to-order shoes are also prohibitively expensive: A single foot mold, for example, can cost thousands of dollars. For those who can't spend like a professional athlete, manufacturers are starting to adopt 3-D printing.
Since the 1950s, the brain of any electronic device has been a printed circuit board (PCB), a piece of substrate that contains all-or most-of a device's electrical components, including wires, switches, and processors. Rather than using PCBs simply as a control center, engineers at Montana-based CORE Outdoor Power are using them as a power source.
Cadillac's Super Cruise is a big step toward automotive autopilot
While Google's prototype self-driving car does a fine job commanding headlines, automakers have been rolling out the features that will ultimately lead to a roadready autonomous vehicle. Cadillac Super Cruise is an important step in that process.
Last year, American car buyers named fuel economy the most important consideration when shopping for a car, outranking even quality and safety. The change coincides nicely with the flood of hybrid and high-efficiency internalcombustion engines on the market.
Deadly counterfeit drugs are everywhere. Here's the new tech to bust them.
GROWING UP in Pakistan in the 1980s, Muhammad Zaman and his family always knew which pharmacy to trust when they got sick. Today, even the pharmacists don't know whom to trust. Just last year, more than 200 people in Lahore died after contaminated cardiac medicines containing a toxic amount of an anti-malaria drug hit the city's supply.
At this moment, dozens of government satellites are taking high-resolution pictures of the planet. But citizens get only limited services such as Google Earth, which provides imagery that's sometimes 10 years old. This fall, however, the Canadabased company UrtheCast (in partnership with the Russian space agency) will install two cameras on the International Space Station (ISS) that will continuously capture still images and high-resolution video and upload them to a free public database online, where the curious can study their yards and the entre preneurial can obtain needed data.
The government should be spending money on science that nobody else wants to fund
IN APRIL, President Obama announced, to much fanfare, that the government would spend $100 million on a detailed map of the human brain and how its neurons interact. The project is a waste of money. Brain mapping is well funded by public and private sources, and the feds should instead spend your dough on important things that business won't.
A swine's grisly fate could teach coroners about human death
A dead pig is a good proxy for a dead person: It's roughly the size of a human torso, it has no fur, and its gut holds similar bacteria. These parallels mean that injury and decay are comparable in the two species, which can help forensic pathologists learn more about how corpses behave.
"DE-STAR is designed to vaporize or divert asteroids that threaten Earth. This isn't science fiction-I build things that have to work in practice. DE-STAR stands for Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation. It looks like an open matchbook with lasers on one flap and a photovoltaic panel for power from sunlight on the other.
Earth's upper atmosphere-below freezing, nearly without oxygen, flooded by UV radiation-is no place to live. But last winter, scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered that billions of bacteria actually thrive up there. Expecting only a smattering of microorganisms, the researchers flew six miles above Earth's surface in a NASA jet plane.
FROM THE ARCHIVES NO, REALLY, WHERE'S MY FLYING CAR?
MODELS OF LIFE
IN THE WAKE OF the unsuccessful Iran hostage-rescue attempt in 1980, when three of eight helicopters failed and crippled the mission, military planners came to a realization: The U.S. fleet was in desperate need of an aircraft that could combine the speed and range of a jet with the vertical lift of a helicopter.
THE THREE MOST CRITICAL AVIATION ADVANCES THIS YEAR
LAST YEAR, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Grasp (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception) Lab gathered a dozen or so quadrotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), programmed them to work in concert, and set them loose on a roomful of improvised instruments.
IN 1883, Nobel laureate John Strutt, a physicist and the third Baron Rayleigh, put forward a radical idea. He had been studying the mechanics of pelican flight and proposed that the birds drew energy from differentials in wind speed, allowing them to remain aloft without beating a wing.
The unregulated, slightly terrifying frontier of person'ãl flight
MY CONTACT WAS A GRUFF, swarthy man, wearing a couple days' stubble, an immaculate black shirt, and a scowl. He looked me up and down sourly, then exhaled as if weary. He'd done this before. Too many times, perhaps. His name was Mario. And yes, he could sell me a surveillance drone-if I could meet his price.
LAST FALL, GE Aviation quietly purchased two small 3-D-printing companies, Morris Technology and Rapid Quality Manufacturing, and in doing so made a loud statement: 3-D printing will shape the future of aircraft. For the past decade, aerospace manufacturers have used additive printing to prototype select parts.
AIRCRAFT DESIGN is often overlooked in discussions of the FAA's multibillion-dollar NextGen initiative, the elaborate mélange of satellite-based guidance, arrival, and departure technologies intended to modernize the outdated and much-criticized national airspace system by 2025.
The best minds in science fictiottdescribe how we wtfl live and workon Earth or in space-in the decades and Ô'nturies to come
IAN TilE GILLIS
KIM STANLEY ROBINSON
KATHLEEN ANN GOONAN
PICKLE-JAR TECHNOLOGY hasn't moved an inch in nearly three hundred years, and the cap on the jar in my hands won't move either. The kids find it hilarious, and their fingers fly above the table as they sketch ghostly images for my benefit. My visual augments display their bright illusions in the air around me-there's the frame work of an unlikely Rube Goldberg device, along with a caricature of me caught in the grip of a huge anthropomor phic pickle jar about to twist my head off.
The answers to the most nagging, fascinating, and bizarre questions of the summer movie season
SCI-FI GETS REAL
EVOLUTION OF THE KILL BOT
Superman may be able to lift a bus or an oil platform, but humans come with pretty strict limits on strength, the first of which is the nature of muscle. The maximum force that humans produce depends on how our muscle fibers work. extracted muscles from differ ent vertebrates and tested their capacities.
Despite his devotion to Daleks-those cruel, armor-clad extraterrestri als from the TV show Doctor Who, now in its 50th year-Jim Rossiter has no interest in annihilating other civilizations. The 57-year-old Australian just likes how the aliens look.
The swift strike of a match on July 4 typically precedes sky-high spectacles. But matches themselves can be fireworks. When ignited, the bulb of fuel on a match's tip com busts into space-hogging gases. By containing the gas in aluminum foil and directing it downward, you can create a miniature missile.
Need to weld in Wellington, New Zealand? Looking to master CNC milling in N.Y.C.? Use The Maker Map to find DIY havens such as fabrication shops, hackerspaces, and co-working offices. Entrepreneurs Renee DiResta and Nick Pinkston built the online map and asked DIY communities across the globe to plot the best locations.
A voice-activated organizer that finds spare parts
Over 25 years, Danh Trinh had amassed thousands of screws, hinges, and other parts in his workshop. He filed them away in labeled drawers, but locating them still wasn't easy. To solve that problem, he built StorageBot: a robotic organizer that summons components at the sound of his voice.
Summertime means rising temperaturesand, often, rising tempers. If your friends and family want to beat the heat without beating each other, there's a surefire option: squirt-gun fight! But shelling out for a few $20-or-more water weapons can rapidly thin a wallet.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOU SHOT OFF FIREWORKS IN SPACE?
Launching fireworks in a near-zerooxygen environment is completely feasible, says Stefan Bossmann, a chemist and rocket enthusiast at Kansas State University: `That would be no problem at all. They have an oxidizer, and they have a reductant."
James Bond films would not be complete Jwithout plenty of elaborate-and largely fictitious-spyware. But in You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery's Bond dodged enemy aircraft in a real flying machine: the WA-i i6 autogyro, nicknamed Little Nellie.