Mar 282012
 

The following is a guest post by Laura McKeever.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to reach the darkest depths of the ocean, today you will find out. Thanks to an expedition conducted by James Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar, we have an insight into what life seven miles below sea level is like. The famous director has boldly gone where only two men have been before, but unlike them he was able to see the area in the Mariana Trench, an area that is larger than the Grand Canyon.

To many people, life that far beneath the ocean surface conjures up images of alien-like creatures and foot long anthropoids. The mystique of the sea has always been associated with monsters that us mere mortals have not yet seen, but Cameron’s trip has proved our imaginations wrong. Disappointingly, he reported after surfacing that the only living things he saw in the Marina Trench were inch long prawn-like specimens. Despite returning without any captivating stories about monsters from the deep, Cameron feels as though his journey was largely a success. The three hours that he spent cramped into a tiny capsule were just a fragment of the intended six hour journey, but at the same time he felt as though he had “ventured between two planets.”

Although Mr. Cameron’s lack of discoveries are a little dull, there is plenty to be excited about when it comes to the machine he went down in. The lime-green craft, known as the Deepsea Challenger, is a tremendous feat of engineering. It has been designed to withstand the incredible pressures that are often exerted on mechanical objects in the deep sea, which can reach eight tonnes per every square inch of material.

The design of the Deepsea Challenger also means that it is able to withstand high variations in pressure. Imagine rocketing between ranges of 100 degrees Fahrenheit to well below freezing within a matter of minutes, as that is what Cameron’s sub has been designed to do. As the vessel descends, the electrical circuits heat up while trying to meet the continuously strenuous demands exerted on it. This is eventually reversed as the ocean floor grows nearer, as the deepsea water temperatures maintain a constant below freezing level due to receiving no sunlight.

Unfortunately, Cameron’s trip has not even been able to provide us with any geological discoveries. The hydraulics on the vessel stopped working as he reached the ocean floor, which meant he was unable to retrieve any samples that could give us an insight into life seven miles below the surface of the ocean. Despite this, it is pretty clear that Cameron’s dedication to learning more about what goes on down there won’t stop him from making some truly astonishing discoveries. The dedicated director was faced with the decision of either missing the premier of Titanic 3D, or going ahead with his mission. As he chose to head for the depths of the ocean rather than the big screen, his dedication shows that the Deepsea Challenger may be dusted off in the future to bring avid biology and geology lovers news of what happens under the sea.

Author Byline:

Laura McKeever is a Medical Sciences student from the UK and freelance writer. In addition to having an avid interest in medicine, she is also fascinated by other areas of science, including geology.

 Posted by at 7:56 pm
Mar 212012
 

Here’s a Kickstarter project I not only recommend, but I’m also a backer. The project comes from Caltech physicist Sameer Walavalkar; he is looking to raise $50,000 to create silicon nanostructures that can represent portraits, pictures, text and are all etched into a variety of objects. The etchings can be done on silicon, gold, sapphire, metals, which can then be mounted and framed as one of a kind art, or given as gifts.

I hope this project gets fully funded, I plan on having a picture of my cats etched and it’ll be a gift for my wife. :-)

 Posted by at 8:27 am
Mar 192012
 

Experiencing battery drain issues on your smartphone? The cause could be the ad-supported apps you’ve installed.

STRUGGLING to make your smartphone battery last the whole day? Paying for your apps might help. Up to 75 per cent of the energy used by free versions of Android apps is spent serving up ads or tracking and uploading user data: running just one app could drain your battery in around 90 minutes.

I’ve heard of one smartphone platform’s “free” apps making http calls every minute for the advert, and god forbid if it needs your location for the advert as well.

 Posted by at 7:41 pm
Mar 072012
 

This video shows experiments performed with a team of nano quadrotors at the GRASP Lab (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception), University of Pennsylvania. Vehicles developed by KMel Robotics.

The possibilities here are endless: carry a small explosive payload, surveillance, clear out rooms for SWAT, suicide drone…

 Posted by at 8:50 pm
Mar 022012
 

GOOG MUSIC

I didn’t even know Google had a music service, but apparently it’s a flop, it’s not living up to expectations and losing users weekly. Wow, there’s a ton of negative buzz about this service, I feel bad for the engineers dedicated to this area.

Things sound so bad that Google execs may pull the plug soon. If you keep your music in their store, hopefully you can migrate it in time.

I’m a big fan of Amazon’s MP3 Store and Cloud Player. No DRM, all MP3s, I can play on my WP7 Samsung Focus, on my laptop, on my Home Theater PC, my iPod Touch. And it’s simple to purchase.

 Posted by at 10:38 pm
Mar 022012
 

If you were, or are, into wrestling, then this video is for you. It comes from justJesman’s Youtube channel. There’s a tribute here to many of the old-school wrestlers from the 70’s and 80’s around the time I was really into the sport. Seeing some of these guys again brings back fond memories, like rowdy Roddy Piper, The British Bulldog, Ted Dibiase, and many more.

But where’s Sgt. Slaughter and the Iron Sheik? Smile

 

 Posted by at 1:14 am
Mar 012012
 

Sick Earth

My friend Emily pointed out a recent TEDTalk on her twitter feed.

Check out TEDTalks: Paul Gilding: The Earth Is Full on @hulu: http://www.hulu.com/watch/334860/tedtalks-paul-gilding-the-earth-is-full –Awesome but scary video. So true, we are running out.

The presenter makes the case that “the earth is full” is not a philosophical statement but based on science. Basically our consumption of resources is outweighing the Earth’s ability to sustain it too far into the future.

My recommendation besides reduce your consumption and waste is to learn to survive so when your neighbors are freaking out, you’re thriving. Also helps in the Zombie Apocalypse.

 Posted by at 5:56 am
Feb 262012
 

FORD Gadgets

Cars and the Internet are slowly getting closer, but it’s still hard for developers to get their apps into cars without being invited by the automobile industry. Given the security and especially safety concerns involved here, things will likely remain this way for a while, but a new project from Ford aims to accelerate in-car app development.

Last week the company today announced that it is now shipping a beta version of its OpenXC hardware and software platform to a group of handpicked universities, including the University of Michigan, MIT and Stanford, as well as app developers like the Weather Underground in the U.S. and HCL Technologies in India.

Read the analysis and possible impact of this announcement at siliconfilter.com.

 Posted by at 11:59 am
Feb 242012
 

 

If you have an iPhone check out project "cellhelmet," which was just funded on Kickstarter.com.

It is the first and only case to guarantee the iPhone 4/4S inside, for US & Canadian residents. If your iPhone should ever break inside of a cellhelmet, we’ll repair or replace it – guaranteed. It’s also made in the USA. Please read on via the following link and get in touch with us. We’d love to get your support and give you all the details!

 Posted by at 7:20 am
Dec 282011
 

Landmine

This afternoon, NPR spoke with Marian Bechtel, the 17-year-old inventor of a device that can detect land mines using sound waves. Earlier this year, Bechtel was awarded a fellowship from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Her science fair project -"A Stand-off Seismo-Acoustic Method for Humanitarian Demining" – has won her recognition for her innovation from science contests and from the US Army.

Listen to the interview as Marian describes how she discovered this innovative capability to help detect landmines.

 Posted by at 7:23 pm
Dec 262011
 

American Crow

I’m a big fan of crows, they’re all around me in the Pacific Northwest, they’re intelligent and I love seeing them solve puzzles. Most geeks are probably already aware that crows are pretty unique in the animal kingdom known to create tools and use them (if you’re not aware of this, you can see a short snippet of this tool creation in the following video).

Hacker and writer Joshua Klein is fascinated by crows. (Notice the gleam of intelligence in their little black eyes?) After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he’s come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human.

After watching the video, check out these links if you want more on this vending machine:
Gizmodo did a review of the device
A paper written about the concept
Josh is also seeking support to make this device more readily available, he needs electrical and mechanical engineers to join him and needs a little funding to support it.

 Posted by at 1:10 am
Dec 232011
 

From Wired’s Danger Room:

Note to the Navy: When trucking a giant flying robot with a rounded fuselage across the country, people are going to think they’re looking at an artifact from Area 51.

As the local news coverage above shows, residents of Cowley County, Kansas, were freaked out to see a truck rumbling down U.S. 77 towing what looks a whole lot like a 32-foot spaceship. “People were calling in saying, ‘Oh they think they found a flying saucer,’” Donetta Godsey of the Winfield Daily Courier told the ABC News affiliate

If I saw this I wouldn’t think it was a UFO because surely the gov’t has been doing an outstanding job keeping their alien discoveries suppressed from the public view and they wouldn’t have been stupid enough to truck it through a town in broad daylight….or would they?

image

 Posted by at 10:51 am
Dec 192011
 

I’m a few months late in recognizing this good article from Geek Wire, it takes a look at the Project Manager skills that Darth Vader exhibited. Since I’m currently training my team to prepare for a transition to Agile software development model, I got a particular kick from thinking of Vader as the Product Owner in a SCRUM project. Smile 

Number 8: Vader made commitments, and worked hard to keep them. If you think of the Galactic Empire as something of a SCRUM project, the Emperor would have to be playing the Product Owner role. Of course, in SCRUM/Agile, the team makes commitments to achieve predefined goals over the course of any given sprint or iteration. Darth did this with the Emperor many times, and he worked REAL hard to make sure those commitments were met. I mean, how did he manage to get that second Death Star operational so quickly anyway? Hard work, that’s how. Vader understood the importance of commitments, and more importantly, the significance of fulfilling them. Trust in teams is built on commitments.

 Posted by at 10:32 am