Friday, March 31, 2006

Minamalistic Motoring Magic!

:: Do you own a Honda? Now you can own the closest thing to a F1 (Formula One) experience in a road car. It goes from 0 - 60 mph in 2.91 seconds, and it has the same motor as your Honda.
++ Auto Tech: United Kingdom / Simon Saunders / Ariel Motor Company

Designed with a clean sheet of paper, by a company with a 108 year race car heritage, the Atom is a completely unique car built for outright performance and dedicated to serious fun!

Famous for innovative engineering, advanced design solutions and performance oriented vehicles, Ariel, founded in 1898, is one of the oldest names in British motoring history. From race cars to motorcycles, Ariel represents a 108 year tradition of automotive design and innovation. The Atom continues that tradition with one of the most exciting pieces of automotive design ever.

Minamalistic . . .
It has no seat padding or upholstery. It has no roof, no doors and no windscreen. No anti-lock brakes or airbags. If it doesn't need it, it hasn't got it. The exposed Honda iVTEC engine is bulletproof and the beautifully detailed suspension and substantial steel chassis are brilliantly executed. It feels special before it's even turned a wheel. This car is built without any concession to comfort, all that matters is handling and performance. One squeeze of the throttle is enough to leave Porsche divers struggling in its wake. The Ariel Atom turns conventional wisdom on its head to embarrass some of the biggest names in the automotive business.

Motoring . . .
"It’s as cool as a Phillipe Starck Juicer, as tempting as any of the brushed aluminium toys you find in an airport gadget shop. But unlike underwater currency converters, I doubt you’d ever get bored with what it can do. In terms of sheer thrills the Atom is easily a match for the Porsche Carrera GT which makes its price look almost ludicrously low. That’s yet another reason why I have no hesition in giving the Atom five stars. This car is motoring nirvana." [Sunday Times, Jeremy Clarkson]

"How to describe this car's acceleration? Well you're effectively entering a Spirit World. It's more than a parallel universe you didn't know existed: it's an entirely human-created land, an almost religious place which at first shocks you into muted fear, but after a time draws you in and traps you. The fastest of all Atoms, a track tool that will give everything - and I mean everything - something to think about, and one that looks properly 21st century and handles like a mid - engined single seater." [Autocar Magazine]

"Hit the throttle in the Atom and the scenery scrolls backwards at astonishing speed. Suddenly all other cars on the road appear to be standing still. For comparison with the stripped down racer feel I get behind the wheel of the Lamborghini Gallardo, a car rightly regarded as being an exceptionally exciting machine in its own right. The Lambo, incredibly, feels about as quick and responsive as a passenger bus. My senses have become horribly warped by the Atom, in a twilight zone where otherwise normal physical laws have been renegotiated... I'm off to find a very accommodating bank manager." [Driver Magazine, New Zealand]
Note from Technophile: The 300 hp version is equivalent to 1,000 hp because of the low weight-to-horsepower ratio. The cockpit is wide and accommodating with the pedals perfectly positioned. This car is sensational and deserves every success as a club racer. It looks quick and is quick. Add slick tires and front and rear spoilers and you have a serious racing car with one huge advantage: You can take a friend along!

[Thanks to an email message from Craig Bramscher, I can now offer the following update to my post: Brammo has begun shipping the Ariel Atom (in the United States) equipped with the GM Ecotec 2.0 Liter engines in 205, 230, 245 and 300hp configurations. Nine additional Honda powered cars are to be made in 2006 for US customers. The deposit for these cars is $20,000 rather than the standard $10,000 as they are obtaining the engine in advance due to the very limited availability. They do not know whether additional Honda drivetrains will be available, nor do they know if 2007 will bring a new supply of Honda engines, so understand that this may well be the end of the Honda powered Ariel Atom for North America!]
:: Source: [Beyond Tomorrow]
:: Innovation: Making a true race car affordable, fun and available to the public as a road car.
:: Cost: Base price for the 300 hp, supercharged version is US $43,640, with many options that can drive the price up considerably.
:: Available: Now.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Air Bag For Riders!

:: Motorcyle jackets and vests that incorporate "airbag" safety systems designed to protect the rider's neck, spine and vital organs in the event of a fall or collision!
++ Safety Tech: Japan / Mugen Denko Co, Ltd. / Hit-Air

Motorcyclists have long been the most vulnerable road users because they do not have an effective barrier between themselves and other objects in an accident. Until now!

The Hit-Air jacket system uses CE certified armor to protect the shoulders, elbows and the spine but most importantly, the Hit-Air jacket also incorporates an air cushion system.

If a rider is thrown from the motorcycle, the air cushion instantly inflates to protect the rider's body.

The inflated jacket provides the necessary impact protection.

After a few seconds the gas is automatically released through the gas release valve.

When inflated the airbag acts to reduce or prevent body injuries by absorbing collision blows or shock forces by being compressed at the point of impact and redistributing the load throughout the entire bag over the riders' body.

Activation is simple and automatic. A coiled wire lanyard is attached to both the motorcycle and the jacket. Once the rider and the motorcycle are separated, the coiled wire lanyard pulls a "key" out of a gas release system and inert gas inflates the air cushion.

A leather motorcycle jacket may help save you from "gravel rash" but will it help absorb the unexpected impact of being thrown to the road from your bike and a collision with a motor vehicle, guard rail or any of the many other "unfriendly" objects that are common on our roads?

Motorcycle accident statistics are clear: Collisions, resulting from a rider being thrown from the motorcycle and impacting with the ground or crashing into an obstacle such as a guardrail, are the main reasons for deaths and serious injuries.

More than 90% of these injuries are to the head, neck or chest. A helmet may protect the head but an impact to the helmet may also cause an injury to the neck. Hit Air offers protection to the neck where various kinds of protection padding have been lacking.

Protection is also provided for the front and the back of the body by a shock-buffering airbag system, offering riders additional protection during accidents.

The construction of the jackets is much stronger than most existing jackets as the materials and stitching have to cope with the rapid and forceful action of the airbag inflation. Compared with existing jackets too, the abrasion resistance is increased due to the additional layers and qualities of the airbag and its protective sleeve materials.

The airbag also prevents the jacket from being stripped off the rider and acts as a body "air splint" to keep the wearers' spine immobile – significantly reducing the risks of major spinal cord injury.
Note from Technophile: The jackets are already in use by police departments in Brazil, Italy, Japan and Spain and appear to offer significantly greater protection than a normal jacket. The inflatable vests are finding application in many other potentially dangerous activities such as horse riding and power sports. After activation, a slow air release valve automatically deflates the high pressure airbag over a 3-5 minute period. If the airbag is not damaged, the system is easily repacked and the activating mechanism reset within 3-5 minutes. The replacement CO2 cartridge costs only $20. The airbag itself is protected by a Kevlar sleeve and it is unlikely to be damaged. (The name "Hit-Air" means "hit air, not tarmack").
:: Source: [Hit-Air]
:: Innovation: Air chambers in jackets and vests that instantly inflate to protect the wearer in case of accident.
:: Available: Now.
:: Cost: There are 13 styles of jackets ranging from $700 to $960 and 5 styles of vests ranging from $600 to $750.
:: Image credits: Hit-Air.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Extreme Business Jet!

:: The concept behind the Javelin Mk 10 is to combine state-of-the-art glass instrumentation, safety features, and two 1,800 pound thrust turbo fan jet engines, into a two-seater executive jet.
++ Aviation Tech: George Bye / Aviation Technology Group (ATG)

This is the instrument panel of the prototype/test cockpit (it is not what the actual civilian cockpit will look like). [Image credit: Aviation Technology Group]
With its high speed (600 mph), manoeuverability, and unprecedented performance, coupled with the economy, reliability, and comfort of a light business jet, the Javelin Mk 10 is unique in general aviation.

Whether you're a business executive, experienced pilot, or aviation enthusiast; the Javelin Mk 10 is the solution when you absolutely, positively have to be there on time. With dual controls in pressurized comfort, the Javelin Mk 10 caters to pilots who love to fly fast and passengers who love to ride in luxury.
Note from Technophile: It takes just a glance at the Javelin personal jet to understand that it was born from the intense desire to offer military performance to the general aviation market. The existence of a market prepared to pay $2.795 million for a two-seat jet aircraft (capable of Mach 0.90) has been verified by the Aviation Technology Group (ATG). It is holding 103 firm orders for the Javelin Mk 10 (accounting for the entire first year of production). Initial customer deliveries of the FAA-certified Javelin Mk 10 are slated for 2008, so if you get your order in now, you'll still be waiting until 2009 to be the first in your neighborhood to have one of these beauties! [Special thanks to Sara Newton, Communications Manager for ATG, for taking the time to communicate with me (by email) in order to ensure the accuracy of this post. Thanks, Sara!]
:: Source: [Aviation Technology Group (ATG)]
:: Innovation: Filling a niche in the aviation marketplace by building a personal jet that is similar to a military jet.
:: Cost: $2.795 million (taxes not included, folks).
:: Speed: Mach 0.90 (600 mph)!
:: Maximum Rate of Climb: 10,000 feet per minute.
:: Certified Ceiling: 45,000 feet.
:: Available: Certification/first delivery = 2008.
:: Image Credits: [Aviation Technology Group (ATG)]
"There is no excuse for an airplane unless it will fly fast! "~ Roscoe Turner

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Free Beer!

:: Fred's pub is a special place, it is named after Frederick Miller, the founder of Miller Brewing Company!
++ Biz Tech: Frederick Miller / Miller Brewing Company

Yes, it offers seven beers on tap and 13 varieties of bottled brew, but that's not what makes this bar special. This 2,700-square-foot bar is special because company employees always drink for free!

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best (regardless of whether you are building a rocketship to Mars, or the best tasting beer). Miller Brewing Company has the technology of beer making down to a science. However, for six years they have not been able to increase their sales. Until now. [Image credit: Molla Zi, New York, New York.]

Free beer is the brainchild of Norman Adami, a chief executive, and he is on a quest: To make his company the new "King" of beers.
Note from Technophile: Norman believes that drinking their own product allows the employees to get to know the business better (I think Norman is a cool guy). His idea has certainly helped to re-energize the company. But has it helped the company to sell more beer? Sales of Miller beer increased in 2006 for the first time in six years. You get to decide. (It gets better! After doing some digging, I found out that one of their employee's many benefits is 3 cases of beer a month and and extra one on your birthday!) Miller tastes great indeed!
:: Source: [Miller Brewing Company]
:: Innovation: Giving employees free beer as an incentive to increase profits!
:: Available: Now.
:: Cost: Depends on the thirst of their employees.
"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza." -Dave Barry

Got The Time?

:: Physicists have found the law of nature which prevents time travel paradoxes, and thereby permits time travel!
++ John Gribbin / Time Travel For Beginners

What allows time travel to be possible turns out to be the same law that makes sure light travels in straight lines (and which underpins the most straightforward version of quantum theory, developed half a century ago by Richard Feynman).

Relativists have been trying to come to terms with time travel for the past seven years, since Kip Thorne and his colleagues at Caltech discovered (much to their surprise) that there is nothing in the laws of physics (specifically, the general theory of relativity) to forbid it. [Image credit: Sanja Gjenero, Zagreb, Croatia]

Among several different ways in which the laws allow a time machine to exist, the one that has been most intensively studied mathematically is the "wormhole". This is like a tunnel through space and time, connecting different regions of the Universe (different spaces and different times). [To view my post about a "Macroscopic Tranversable Spacewarp!", click here.]

The two "mouths" of the wormhole could be next to each other in space, but separated in time, so that it could literally be used as a time tunnel.

What has made time travel seemingly impossible is the possibility of paradoxes. What if a time traveler goes back in time and accidentally kills his or her grandfather? If you killed your grandfather before you were born, how could you be born and travel back in time to kill your grandfather? The list of possible paradoxes is endless.

Watch the excellent movie "Somewhere In Time", and try to answer the following question: Where did the watch come from (for a decent answer to this question, click here)?

How great would it be if we could simply pause life, rewind a mistake, or fast-forward through an exam? Or go back (or forward) to our future in order to see the consequences of our present decisions.

If time travel really is possible (after seven years of intensive study, all the evidence says that it is - although maybe not in a Delorean) there must be a law of nature to prevent such paradoxes arising, while permitting journeys through time.

Igor Novikov, who holds joint posts at the P. N. Lebedev Institute, in Moscow, and at NORDITA (the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics) in Copenhagen, first pointed out the need for a "Principle of Self-consistency". Now, working with a large group of colleagues in Denmark, Canada, Russia and Switzerland, he has found the physical basis for this principle.

It involves something known as the Principle of least action (or Principle of minimal action), and has been known (in one form or another) since the early seventeenth century. It describes the trajectories of things, such as the path of a light ray from A to B, or the flight of a baseball tossed through an upper story window. [Image credit: H. Destreich, Franfurt, Hessen, Germany]

Action, in this sense, is a measure both of the energy involved in traversing the path and the time taken. For light (which is always a special case), this boils down to time alone, so that the principle of least action becomes the principle of least time, which is why light travels in straight lines.

Feynman, who was entranced by the principle of least action, formulated quantum physics entirely on the basis of it, using what is known as the "sum over histories" or "path integral" formulation, because, like a light ray seemingly sniffing out the best path from A to B, it takes account of all possible trajectories in selecting the most efficient.

So self-consistency is a consequence of the Principle of least action, and nature can be seen to abhor a time travel paradox. Which removes the last objection of physicists to time travel in principle. This leaves it up to the engineers to get on with the job of building a time machine. [Image credit: Daniel Cardle]
Note from Technophile: The "action" is a property of the whole path, and somehow light (or "nature") always knows how to choose the cheapest or simplest path to its goal. In a similar fashion, the principle of "least action" can be used to describe the entire curved path of a baseball thrown through a window (once the time taken for the journey is specified). Although the ball can be thrown at different speeds on different trajectories (higher and slower, or flatter and faster) and still go through the window, only trajectories which satisfy the Principle of least action are possible. In a mathematical tour de force, Novikov and his colleagues have shown that only self-consistent solutions to the equations satisfy the principle of least action. In their own words, "the whole set of classical trajectories which are globally self-consistent can be directly and simply recovered by imposing the principle of minimal action".
:: Source: [Time Travel For Beginners]
:: Innovation: Being able to travel forward and backwards in Time!
:: Available: Unknown.
:: Cost: Unknown.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Extreme Undersea Habitats!

:: How about an island of unique, self sufficient, non-polluting, semi-submerged dwelling environments?
++ Sea Tech: Giancarlo Zema / Italian Naval Architect / Sub-Find

Life, say the experts, began in the sea. And if the way we spend our vacations is an accurate indicator, there are few things we enjoy more than revisiting our submerged roots. Cavorting with dolphins, badgering sharks from the safety of steel cages and photographing exotic fish through the portholes of tourist submarines fascinates landlubbers from Prague to Peoria.

For those who find these forays into Neptune's realm too brief, Italian naval architect Giancarlo Zema has the perfect dream home, the Trilobis 65. Part yacht and part submarine, it could possibly convince Captain Nemo to hang a "for sale" sign on the Nautilus.

At first glance, the Trilobis 65 (named after the Trilobites, prehistoric creatures that lived in the sea 500 milion years ago) looks as if it would be more at home soaring into the sky than plying the waters of atolls, bays and maritime parks. Looking at a computer image of the bow conjures up visions of the flying saucers in science fiction films.

The Trilobis's blueprints, however, reveal a nautical heritage that reaches back to the humble dugout while simultaneously embracing 21st century technologies that include high-strength composites, photovoltaic panels, foam-reinforced fiberglass, and nonpolluting hydrogen fuel cells.

Perhaps the most striking feature of Zema's design is one that reflects his willing recognition of the great unspoken truth about luxury yachts. Powerful engines and sleek hulls aside, these vessels typically stick close to home. Acknowledging the fact that well-heeled mariners often prefer to keep their floating palaces moored inches from the dock, Zema also designed a special type of marina that will enable like-minded Trilobis owners to create their own floating villages. The traditional rectangular dock will disappear, to be replaced by a roughly 60 foot in diameter circular island in the shape of a 6-tooth gear, into which individual yachts fit like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
Note from technophile: Descending from the top to the craft's third level, yachtsmen will enter what Zema calls the day area. Its use of space is a reminder that spherical structures are more efficient than rectangular ones. As with the space above it, the day area is surrounded by self-shading glass, offering a panoramic view from the gourmet kitchen, formal dining area and three seating groups. On this level, the spiral stairway serves a secondary function of separating interior and exterior spaces. Sliding glass doors fully retract, opening onto a teak deck.Returning inside and following the stairway down one more flight leads to what is known as the night zone. The Trilobis sleeps six, with a premium on privacy. The design calls for two single and two double bedrooms, each with a private bathroom. With the deck at this level beginning 3 ft. below the waterline, the wraparound window cuts off at eye level.This level also houses the yacht's propulsion system, which consists of two electric motors. Each is rated at about 300 hp. They are powered by hydrogen-fed Ballard fuel cells. The hydrogen for the fuel cells will be stored in a pair of 240-gal. tanks located just aft of the single bedrooms. The fuel supply is not intended for ocean crossings, but to be sufficient for moving the yacht to nearby reefs to explore seasonal changes in marine life and catch a true fish-eyes view of unusual migrating species.
:: Source: [Sub-Find]
:: Innovation: Technology that allows anyone to live in a unique environment inside of a self-sufficient, nonpolluting dwelling that exists in unison with the surrounding ocean !
:: Available: Unknown.
:: Cost: $4 - 5 million.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Extreme Superyacht!

:: The 118-foot (36-meter) WallyPower is a high performance superyacht that flawlessly integrates technology with design.
++ Design Tech: Principality of Monaco / Luca Bassani / Wally

Just about everything concerning the $33 million WallyPower is Extreme: The propulsion system consists of three gas turbines that generate 16,800 HP. These drive water jets that push this high tech craft to a top speed of nearly 60 knots. The fuel capacity is 5,812 gallons. Fuel consumption at top cruising speed is one liter per second, or about 15 gallons per minute!

The sleek lines of the WallyPower are the result of an extensive R&D (Research and Development) programme that included the tank testing at the SSPA facility in Goteborg, Sweden, and the wind tunnel testing in the Ferrari facility at Maranello, Italy. The wind tunnel tests were conducted to optimize the air inlets of the gas turbines, to verify any turbulence and back flow of the exhaust gas on deck and living areas, and to have a further confirmation of the geometry of the hull and superstructure.

The hull form is a deep "V" of 22 degrees at the stern, with a straight stem bow designed to perform as "wave piercing". An innovative interceptor system controls the boats trim to improve even further performance and comfort in any sea conditions.

The deck is flush and features from bow to stern: the tender garage (where you can store your water "toys" and have them hoisted into the water by crane), the social cockpit, the glass superstructure, and the aft cockpit. Large open areas are designed to allow humans to comfortably and safely move around the deck when at anchor.

The yacht features all the spacious comforts of a mega yacht together with all the nautical characteristics of a coast-guard boat: while remaining comfortable on board, guests are capable of cruising at nearly 60 knots not only in flat seas but also in rough waters.

The pure lines of the WallyPower are enhanced by the absence of visible cleats, mooring winches, radar antennas, TV domes, and anchor systems. Everything is perfectly and neatly concealed and hidden (without sacrificing functionality).

The deck, cockpit, navigation, dining and saloon areas have been conceived as one continuous element. Inside the superstructure, the atmosphere if that of a New York style loft. The open space incorporates three areas, from stern to bow: the saloon, the dining/seating area, and the navigation cockpit.

The spacious galley encloses the crew mess with a 15" plasma screen. The galley is equipped with a professional oven and stove, as well as plenty of refrigerators.

The port console is dedicated to the engineering, start-up, and monitoring systems while underway. The starboard one serves for the steering, control, communication, navigation and interceptor systems.
Note from Technophile: Genuinely new and high-tech, from her engine room to her folding radar mast, the WallyPower has Carbon Composite, Fiberglass, Nomex, Lexan, Triple Laminate Glass, Honeycomb construction, and a superbly minimalist Euro interior by Lazzarini & Pickering. The chameleon-like paint finish is metallic dark green and changes reflections and colour depending on the light and landscape. If the Gotham City branch of Ikea ever gets into designing mega-yachts, this is what they would look like! This is an express motoryacht with berths for six guests (in three "en suite" staterooms), and six crew. I cannot do justice to this incredible technology with one blog post (it would take an entire web site), so I encourage you to go to the Wally site and look around. It is extremely interesting!
:: Source: [The Science Channel]
:: Innovation: High tech, high performance Superyacht!
:: Cost: $33 million!
:: Available: Now!
:: Image credits: Wally

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sustainable Urban Wind Power!

:: Absolutely sensational small scale wind turbine technology that will allow you to "stick it the man (power company)"!
++ Environ Tech: Netherlands / Delft University of Technology / Turby B.V.

This 2.5 kilowatt wind generator designed for rooftops can generate enough electricity to reduce the electric bill of a typical home by two thirds.

The Turby is a brand of vertical axis Darrieus wind turbine. The three vertical aerofoil blades have a helical twist of 60 degrees, similar to Gorlov's water turbines. Since the wind pulls each blade around on both the windward and leeward sides of the turbine, this feature spreads the torque evenly over the entire revolution, thus preventing the destructive pulsations (and noise) of the straight-bladed wind generator.

Another advantage of the helical twist is that the blades generate torque well from upward-slanting airflow. This is negligible in open country, but tall buildings and cliff faces generate a bow wave which directs airflow up and over them.

Turbines mounted on building rooftops or clifftops are exposed to significantly slanting flow, and the Turby can extract more useful energy from it than a propeller-type turbine can.

The turbine measures 2.0 meters in diameter by 2.9 meters high (including generator), and weighs 136kg. It is specified to generate in winds of between 4 meters/second and 14 meters/second, and can survive winds of 55 meters/second.

Rated power at 14 meters/second is 2.5 killowatts. The AC (Alternating Current) output from the synchronous generator is rectified to DC (Direct Current), then inverted to AC. The Turby's angled layout of the magnets aids in minimizing startup torque.
Note from Technophile: Couple the Turby with some PV (Photo Voltaic) solar panels and you could either remove yourself from the grid and become self sufficient, or make you electric meter run backwards and sell electricity to the power company. The neat thing about this sort of "hybrid" power system is that normally when the sun doesn't shine, the wind is blowing (like in the case of a storm). What can make you real happy is when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing at the same time!
:: Source: [Beyond Tomorrow]
:: Innovation: Absolutely sensational small scale wind turbine technology!
:: Available: Now.
:: Cost: £ 11,466 (turbine and generator).

Note from Dan Lelevier, ET (Extreme Technology) Consumer Product Advisor: You can't get a better cellular phone deal than this! LetsTalk is an independent reseller of cellular phones and services plans. You can actually get a better deal through them than you can by going directly through the carrier (they activate phones for Alltel, Cingular, Nextel, Sprint, T-mobile, and Verizon). They also offer pre-paid solutions from MetroPCS and Cricket. Their website offers user-friendly features such as "find and compare", "quick search", and "top sellers". The bottom line: Same plan, better phone, less out of pocket expense! If you get a Turby, you can use your new phone to call everyone and let them know how much you saved on your cell phone and how much you're saving on your electric bill!

Compare and save on phones, plans and pagers.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fly Like A Vulture!

:: Just like Gollum the Vulture, you can learn to fly in a high-tech wind tunnel designed for skydivers!
++ Personal Tech: Simon Ward / AirkiX

A vulture that can't fly became airborne for the first time in a new wind tunnel designed by SkyVentures for indoor skydivers.

Four-year-old Gollum (an African White Back Vulture) was bred in captivity so couldn't learn to fly by launching himself off cliffs like wild vultures do. The result of his wind tunnel flying experience is that he can now fly unaided.
Imagine a wind tunnel that could be used for testing the aerodynamics of an F1 (Formula One) racing car, turn it upright, step into the airflow and you are flying! It's a proven concept operating in several countries to the benefit of the skydiving community and anyone else who wishes to taste the thrill of freefall in a completely safe environment.

The setup is simple, a 12ft (3.66m) diameter tunnel has two open doorways into the ante chamber (in effect, the outer chamber) which can seat up to 15 people. Inside the flight chamber is the invisible airflow and all is calm in the outer chamber. The flight chamber has a sprung floor made from aircraft standard steel wires. The instructor will spend much of their time walking on the floor as they look after flyers.

To enter the tunnel, stand in the open doorway and lean forward, you will feel your legs lifted from under you as you assume a horizontal flying position. The instructor will take a loose grip on your flight suit and help you get into a neutral flying position before teaching you the basic moves.

Movements such as going up and down, forwards, backwards, sideways and turning are all simple and easy to master and you will soon be learning acrobatic tricks! To leave the tunnel, simply fly to the second doorway, take a grip on the sides and stand up and you are back in the ante chamber. Don’t worry about small matters such as jumping, falling or hitting the fans – it just can’t happen!

Starting at the bottom of the wind tunnel is a plenum that is 27.4m long by 8.5m wide and 4m deep (90x28x13ft). Inside are some huge aluminium banks of turning vanes that smoothly turn air around corners in straight lines. This takes out the turbulence.

The air is forced through the inlet contractor in the centre of the plenum and up into the flight chamber. The inlet contractor squeezes the air into the chamber at normal flying speeds of about 100-110mph (161-177 kph).

The air travels through the clear acrylic walled flight chamber and on up through the diffuser before hitting turning vanes at the top that turn the air left and right into the huge fans which push the air out into the top corners where it is turned on its downward path through the return air towers (RATS).
Note from Technophile: This tunnel is very cool (or warm) depending on the weather. It recirculates the air which gets warm very quickly as the 1000HP motor creates energy and heat. Warm air can be forced out of a huge door and cool air sucked in from an opposite mounted door. The air then gets a final turn at the bottom corners before the cycle starts again at the turning vanes back into the inlet contractor. In winter it’s warm and in Summer it’s cool!
:: Source: [The Science Channel]
:: Innovation: Using wind tunnel technology to allow people to fly!
:: Available: Now (there are seven tunnels world-wide).
:: Cost: At AirkiX, if you book online, £37.99 (£32.99 off-peak) will get you a short class with a video brief and instruction, and 2 flights of one minute each – that’s about the same as three tandem skydives.
:: Image Credits: AirkiX

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Urban Light Transportation!

:: PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) provides on-demand driverless travel using its own guideway network!
++ Environ Tech: Martin Lowson / Advanced Transport Systems, Ltd.

ULTra (Urban Light Transportation) offers an advanced form of PRT, giving effective, low cost and sustainable transport for cities, airports and special developments worldwide.

ULTra is an innovative form of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system. ULTra (Urban Light Transport) emerged from a fundamental reappraisal of the transport needs of a city. It is designed to meet the expectations of passengers - convenient, inexpensive, reliable, safe and easy to use, while also satisfying public demands for value for money, ease of construction and environmental benefit.

Conventional forms of public transit require passengers to collect in groups until a large vehicle is scheduled to travel on predetermined routes. In contrast, ULTra offers personal transport with no waiting, and takes passengers non-stop to their chosen destination. This is a transport system which is as convenient as, or in congested environments more convenient than, the car, but with minimal environmental impact.
Note from Technophile: The passenger uses the system by going to the nearest station on the network. Stations are distributed around the area served like bus stops or cab ranks. At each station there are a series of berths at each of which the passenger can select their desired destination. This is done via a smart card process. Because each passenger can be identified by their smart card the service can be personalised to respond to any special requirements of the passenger. The passenger destination selection is passed to central control which provides movement instructions to the vehicle assigned to the berth. The passenger boards the programmed vehicle which takes them to their desired destination automatically, non-stop and by the best available route. At the destination the passenger leaves the vehicle, which may either wait there for the next fare or, alternatively, be redirected by central control to places with known demand. Four out of 5 passengers will have no wait. The rest will have less than a minute to wait. It doesn't get much better than that!
:: Source: [Beyond Tomorrow]
:: Innovation: A revolution in personal transportation!
:: Available: The first paying passengers before the end of 2006.
:: Cost: Over £15 million and 50 man years of design effort.
:: Speed: 45kph (25mph).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Macroscopic Tranversable Spacewarp!

:: An Iranian "Einstein" believes that tranversable spacewarps can be created, allowing us to travel between countries, planets, and even the stars!
++ Space Tech: Mohammad Mansouryar / FTL (Faster Than Light) Travels

An Iranian student by the name of Mohammad Mansouryar (known to his friends as "Mammad") wants to lead a world-wide revolution in physics, but does anyone care?

You should care! The development of wormhole technology may very well be mandatory to ensure the long term survival and/or prosperity of our species.

Mammad's methods would allow people, spacecraft, and other useful goods to take a cosmic bypass, riding a spacewarp through an artificially created wormhole that radically alters distances through space while maintaining spacetime stability for the passengers and/or cargo!

This rendition, by artist Les Bossinas, depicts a hypothetical spacecraft with a "negative energy" induction ring, inspired by recent theories describing how space could be warped with negative energy to produce hyperfast transport to reach distant star systems. [Image credit: NASA]

This rendition, by artist Les Bossinas, depicts a cockpit view of a hypothetical spacecraft traveling at eight-tenths the speed of light and shows the visual distortions that would be experienced at such high speeds. The star field is actually being wrapped toward the front of the craft in addition to being significantly blue-shifted. [Image credit: NASA]
Like the author of Centauri Dreams, I am not competent enough in theoretical physics to completely understand Mansouryar's analysis. However, because he was kind enough to correspond with me by email, I think I understand the basic concept for creating an artificial wormhole (what Namsouryar calls a Virtual Pregnant Worm, or VPW): If you take metal plates, and duplicate these anywhere else in the known universe, and arrange them in a certain way (Mansouryar calls every couple of plates a cavity, and his style of arranging them asymmetric perforating), you would yield the initial energy needed, from the "vacuum fluctuations", to warp spacetime!

If you could build a wormhole on earth, theoretically you would walk through it and emerge elsewhere, just like in the movie "Stargate", and what they do on the popular television series, SG-1 almost every day. Image Credit: [Don Cook's Digital Café]
Note from Technophile: The mechanism that Mansouryar is starting with is to experiment with two special plates separated by a nano distance.

No human or useful goods could traverse between these plates.

However, according to Mansouryar, if you take a framework of metal plates along with special electromagnetic equipment to create a charge-back reaction, you could create enough "needed" energy to create a "macroscopic" spacewarp.

A huge challenge to spacewarp engineers is to find a way to allow humanoid passengers to pass through.

Mansouryar thinks he has found the way!
:: Source: [FTL Travels]
:: Innovation: Traveling long distances instantaneously using artificially created wormholes.
:: Available: Could be realized in less than a year.
:: Cost: Millions (but worth it)!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Quantum Leap!

:: Michelle Simmons is among the physicists racing to keep us computing by making the Quantum Computer a reality!
++ Extreme Tech: Michelle Simmons / Centre for Quantum Computer Technology

As the limits of traditional silicon look set to hit a ceiling in the next few years, the work of Professor Simmons and other quantum computing researchers offers the best hope of continuing processing speed and improvements.

The biggest barrier to the future of semiconductor manufacturing is the size of the transistor, which needs to shrink to fit in the same amount of space. The pathways etched into the original 4004 processor in 1971 were 10 microns wide (about 1/10th the width of a human hair). The pathways on the latest Intel processors are 65 nanometres (nm) wide (about 1/1500th the width of a human hair).

Engineers expect pathways to go down to below 5 nm, possibly even 1 nm (although there's probably a practical limit at 10 nm).

Given the width of your average atom is only about 1/10th of a nanometre, we're getting to the point where the atoms themselves are simply too big for our engineering purposes.

Even with continual developments in semiconductor materials, manufacturing and an emphasis on parallelism rather than producing faster and faster single chips, the days of the microprocessor as we know it appear to be numbered.

The US-based Semiconductor Industry Association sees a point in about 15 years where the barriers to continued scaling of transistors will get the better of us. At this point we depart from conventional semiconductor engineering and go quantum in order to see computing's future. The task for Professor Simmons and other researchers at the Australian Centre for Quantum Computer Technology is to build a quantum computer.

Technogirl has a morning chat (her last) with extremetech:

extremetech says I just finished building my Quantum Computer! In order for it to work, it has to interact with an alternate universe on the sub-atomic level.
technogirl says According to quantum mechanics, any interaction with another universe could result in decoherence, causing a flux quantum Shift, making it collapse into a single fixed state. This could kill everyone living in that universe!
extremetech says Shift happens!
technogirl says OK, then, start it up!
extremetech says OK, I'm hitting the Shift key!
Poof! The universe, as we know it, is destroyed by some extreme techie!

Simmons' prototype is
made of silicon, the same materials used in a traditional microprocessor. Her work is concerned with developing the technology to build qubit test structures in silicon atom by atom with atomic precision.
A qubit is a "quantum digit" and is the quantum computing equivalent of a bit. It not only represents a 0 or a 1 but, because of the vagaries of superposition, it can also represent other values in between 0 and 1. This means computations done with qubits can process much more information than conventional computers.
Her "qubit" is a single phosphorus atom in silicon. Her goal is to be able to engineer devices where she can control the position of single phosphorus atoms, their environment and how to electronically manipulate them. Each of these is a challenge.

The barriers to continued transistor cramming do not stem from a lack of faith in human ingenuity. The problem is we can't change the laws of physics - and that is where quantum physics offers the best hope for continued computing advances.
Note from Technophile: Intel co-founder Gordon Moore observed that the complexity of an integrated circuit at a given cost would double every 18 months. Computer chips would get faster, while their price stayed the same or fell. This so-called "Moore's Law" is challenged by the speed limits of the universe, which make further miniaturisation beyond a certain point impossible. Normally, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, including information. However, some quantum particles are fundamentally linked together, so if a change takes place in one particle, the other particle also changes instantaneously. This is known as "entanglement", and is used in a quantum computer to enable two or more qubits to interact and exchange information. However, there is a problem. It's called "decoherence": When a particle in a state of quantum superposition is observed, it "collapses" into a single fixed state. When it does so, it loses all its quantum information - essentially changing from a qubit into a bit. If decoherence occurs in a quantum computer, all the valuable superposition information is lost and the computer ceases to function!
Source: [Center For Quantum Computer Technology]
Innovation: Build a better, faster computer.
Available: Difficult to determine. Simmons predicts 10 years (or more) from now.

The Nose Knows!

:: Surgeons implanted nasal stem cells in the spine of a quadriplegic and the results are extremely incredible!
++ Med Tech: Dr. Steven Hinderer / Center For SCI Recovery

Witness an extraordinary medical breakthrough. A young woman is told she’ll never walk again after a car accident left her a quadriplegic. But Erica Nader is standing up and doing things doctors never thought possible. The secret to her recovery may be due to a new experimental treatment designed to repair her spinal cord, and believe it or not, it’s all thanks to her nose!

Until now it was believed that adult stem cells grew only in bone marrow and the brain. The discovery of the nasal stem cells sprang from the observation that sensory neurons in the nose (the olfactory epithelium) are able to regenerate throughout life. Since these neurons are often killed by bad smells, colds and viruses, they need to regenerate throughout life to maintain sensory function (your sense of smell).
Given this ability to regenerate, it was thought that nasal stem cells might be able to assist with the reconnection of the nerves across the region of damage in the spinal cord.

Griffith University (Brisbane) researchers say there have been positive results in a trial of the use of transplanted nasal cells to help paraplegic patients. A year ago, cells were taken from six volunteers and implanted into their damaged spinal cords.

The Center for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Recovery at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan is a world-class facility that offers therapeutic programs and techniques based on the newest information available from emerging research around the globe.

In late March 2003, Erica Nader became the first American to undergo Olfactory Ensheathing Cell (OEC) implantation. This jumpstarted a collaborative program between Dr. Carlos Lima, a Portugese pioneer in the procedure, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, located in Detroit.
Note from Technophile: Erica was injured, went through a traditional rehab program and was being told frequently and emphatically that she was not expected to recover and that she should get on with her life. That was not a message that she was prepared to hear. After two years of therapy, she is now showing signs of at least partial recovery. Sensory restoration is evident down to about the T10 level, and partial motor restoration has resulted in greatly strengthened abdominal muscles and the ability to stand with braces and a walker. Her arms and hands have also been strengthened, with some return of grasping ability.
Would you like to know more? Click here for an excellent article on the tech of Spinal Cord Regeneration. Click here for a personal note from Erica Nader (OEC Implantation Pioneer). To learn about the tech of using autologous incubated macrophages to promote recovery from spinal cord injury, click here, and here.

:: Source: [Center For SCI Recovery]
:: Innovation: Transplanting stem cells to regenerate damaged nerve tissue.
:: Available: Now (if you qualify for the clinical trials).

Monday, March 06, 2006

Virtual Treasure Hunt!

:: THE FUTURE OF GAMING is location-based games for GPS-enabled phones!
++ Peter and Robert Sprogis / Your World Games

It's morning and your cell phone directs you to a nearby Starbucks - not just for a mocha, but also for a free vial of magic potion. Spotting a friend in line, you strike him down with your virtual scepter! Three thousand points to you!

Inspired by a new FCC regulation requiring cell-phones to use GPS technology, Your World Games was founded and the owners filed a patent on games that send players on virtual treasure hunts in real-life locations via GPS. Their first title, The Shroud, is due this spring. To protect a farming village from enemies, players visit specific spots all aver the United States (and race against other players).
KnowledgeWhere, a Calgary, Alberta, company has already shipped two successful GPS games (Swordfish and Torpedo Bay) from their subsidiary, Blister Entertainment.

Now it's trying to sell retailers like 7-Eleven on what it calls the "the cowboy effect" - hearding players into stores using the games.

How much would McDonald's pay to be the setting of your personal victory over evil? The Sprogises can't wait to find out.
Note from Technophile: Imagine a mix of Harvest Moon and Zelda. Now put your tongue back in your mouth! There are hardcore gamers circling the mobile scene now, and looking for games that will speak to them, and if The Shroud is able to hit all of the marks the ambitious Hardcore 3D folks are aiming for, I believe you'll be seeing more than one person walking straight into a telephone pole because they're concentrating too hard on turning back a stream of Golems pouring forth from dimensional breaches!
:: Source: [Your World Games].
:: Innovation: A revolution in gaming!
:: Available: Spring, 2006.
:: Cost: $150,000 is the typical cost for a new game.
:: Market Potential: $43 billion by 2010!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Five Billion Star Hotel!

:: Need to get away from it all? Extreme Technology presents a tour of the CSS Skywalker, an orbital resort that’s a lot closer to reality than you might think!

++ Aviation and Space: Robert Bigelow / Earth Orbiting Hotel!

When it comes to
grand ambition, the impresarios of the Las Vegas Strip are mere pikers next to Budget Suites owner Robert Bigelow. For his next hotel enterprise, Bigelow is looking beyond the bright lights of Las Vegas—beyond Earth’s atmosphere, in fact. He is actively engaged in an effort to build the planet’s first orbiting space hotel.

For its water show, this hotel will have all of Earth’s blue oceans flying past its windows at 17,500 miles an hour. Guests on board the 330-cubic-meter station (about the size of a three-bedroom house) will learn weightless acrobatics, marvel at the ever-changing face of the home planet, and, for half of every 90-minute orbit, gaze deep into a galaxy ablaze with billions of stars.

Developed at NASA as part of a project called TransHab, inflatable space-station modules have some important advantages over their tin-can counterparts. They weigh significantly less, and they launch in a compressed state, with their fabric hulls wrapped tightly around their rigid cores like a roll of paper towels. This allows them to use less-powerful launch vehicles and makes for roomier space stations.

After a rocket fires a Nautilus into space, explosive bolts will release the girdle securing the compressed hull, and then the station’s life support system, housed in the core, will inflate the structure with breathable air, expanding it from 15 feet in diameter to 22 feet.

Power comes from solar panels that unfold from the rigid bulkheads at each end of the module. Each bulkhead also houses an airlock and a docking adaptor. Astronauts arriving later enter a shirtsleeve environment in which they can go to work unpacking removable panels, equipment and supplies from the core to create three levels of living and working space.

A docked rocket engine called a multi-directional propulsion bus (MDPB) will eventually allow the station—the first one is tentatively called CSS [Commercial Space Station] Skywalker—to maneuver within Earth’s orbit or even leave it, for, say, a trip to the moon.

Welcome to your Space Hotel Lobby! Fiberglass panels will cover the fabric webbing, visually dividing the module’s living areas. Open passages will connect the levels.
Note from Technophile: This basic architecture was created by NASA senior engineer William Schneider, in an effort that began in 1997. The design won numerous converts at NASA, with then- administrator Daniel Goldin calling it a major breakthrough. For a while, it was seriously considered as an alternative to the International Space Station (ISS) Habitation Module under development at the time by Boeing. But TransHab was cancelled without explanation in 2000, before it could produce flight-ready hardware. Its demise is an example of what Bigelow sees as NASA’s monumental inefficiency. Here was a perfectly good program to develop a technology that was less expensive and tougher than conventional designs, but, as far as Bigelow could tell, it got axed for purely political reasons.
:: Source: [Bigelow Aerospace]
:: Innovation: Making living in space available to humans (other than astronauts)!
:: Available: January 10, 2010 (make your reservations)!
:: Cost: Bargain basement hotel prices start at $7.9 million per week (a bargain compared to the $20 millions it costs to live on the ISS for a week)!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Obedient Luggage!

:: Fido luggage is a state-of-the-art suitcase that (thanks to advanced motion robotics) will faithfully follow you around the airport, train station, or park!

++ Personal Tech: Peter Yeadon / Fido Luggage Project

Dragging your luggage around the airport is, well, a drag. You've probably imagined almost every scenario possible for making life easier when traveling. Almost - because you definitely haven't thought of this: Using motion robotics and voice recognition technology, Fido Luggage packs the trainability and loyalty of a dog into a bright, shiny suitcase that follows you around.

The obedient invention comes from architect/designer Peter Yeadon, who merges high-tech, scientific, and utilitarian approaches into a body of work that is as stupefyingly brilliant as it is hilariously ironic.

Fido has laser sensors that keep it from nipping the heels of other travelers, and the ability to recognize and navigate uneven terrain. The internal battery can be recharged through an electrical cord, and also recharges through the rotation of Fido's (independently controlled) wheels! Fido's shiny coat comes in an array of solid colors and computer-generated patterns, or you can customize your own. And for times when Fido gets tired, a leash comes built-in.

Fido Luggage appears, at first glance, to be remarkable only because of its colorful exterior and blob-like shape. But then you might notice it at all. Until it moves on its own, heels beside its owner, and changes direction on command.

The owner wears a wristband, which holds an on-off switch for activating Fido, and a receiver for programming voice recognition. And in ways that only a robot can be superior to a dog, even when Fido gets old, you can still retrain it to respond to new commands.
Note from Technophile: This innovative work provides a new advancement in Universal Design. Fully commanded by voice activation, there is no need to drag or lift your luggage, just tell Fido what to do. Once trained, Fido is able to recognize your voice and follow your lead. You may now toss your haphazardly rollerskating luggage out the window and go in search of Fido. It's a traveler's new best friend.
:: Source: [Peter Yeadon]
:: Innovation: New advancement in luggage design!