Archive for May, 2007

Burj Dubai is now second tallest building in the world

May 31, 2007

The iconic Burj DubaiBurj Dubai is now the second tallest building in the world, 468.1 metres (1,535.8 ft) high and with 130 stories.
 
Burj Dubai is taller than Petronas Towers in Malaysia (452 metres; 1,483 ft) and Sears Tower in Chicago (442 metres; 1,450 ft), and is second only to Taipei 101 (509 metres; 1,670 ft), taller by only 39.9 metres (145.2 ft).

Burj Dubai has also set a new world record for vertical concrete pumping for a building, by pumping to over 460 metres (1,509 ft). The previous record was held by Taipei 101 for pumping concrete up to a height of 448 metres (1,470 ft).
 
The all-time world record for altitude transportation of concrete was set during the extension of the Riva del Garda Hydroelectric Power Plant in Italy in 1994, when concrete was pumped to a record level of 532 metres (1,745 ft). Burj Dubai will also break this record before construction is complete.

Source:  Albawaba

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Banking on Stem Cells

May 31, 2007

 stem cell

A San Francisco company hs announced that they would be the first to offer IVF patients the option of growing, freezing and banking their own embryonic stem cells.

Until now, couples undergoing in vitro fertilization could not earmark stem cells derived from their embryos for their own future use; they could only donate them to the nationwide pool of embryos used for stem cell research.

Somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 such embryos lie in frozen animation in IVF clinics across the U.S. Couples have the option of keeping these embryos frozen, discarding them, donating them to other infertile couples, or making them available for study.

Source:  Time magazine

China and India in ‘race to the moon’

May 31, 2007

China and India are both planning to launch moon shots within a year in the latest sign of the two Asian powerhouses’ intensifying rivalry and growing technological prowess.

Although both countries deny they are engaged in a 21st century re-run of the 1960s race to the moon between the cold war superpowers, their haste to launch suggests more than casual interest in the other’s progress.

China said this month that it expected to launch its first unmanned lunar orbiter, the Chang’e-1 (named after China’s mythological “lady in the moon”) before the end of this year, while India this week announced that it could send up a similar space probe as early as April 2008.

Source:  Financial Times

Plug into the future with the Lightening Lithium

May 31, 2007

electric

Los Angeles Times review of The Lightning Lithium:

Lightning Motors’ lithium-powered superbike looks like an R1. It even handles like the Yamaha liter bike. But its innards have been wrenched and yanked out.

The entire engine is missing. So are the tailpipes, radiator, gas cap, transmission and clutch. In their place: a wall of yellow batteries, an AC regenerative motor, an electric throttle and a three-pronged plug, which pokes out from the frame and connects to a standard outlet.

Welcome to the world of electric motorcycle conversions — a micro-phenom that’s been percolating for at least the last decade, primarily at independent motorcycle shops, like the one I visited in Oakland. Less polluting and less expensive to operate than their gas-powered brethren, electric bikes seem like a great idea. But until recently they’ve had an Achilles’ heel: the large size and low power-to-weight ratio of the lead-acid batteries propelling them.

Read the full review.  Cool video of bike at the link as well.

Eco-vehicle Raven passes first road test

May 30, 2007

The Corbin Motor Company, which gave us the unique three-wheeled electric vehicle called the Sparrow, on Tuesday successfully tested a new gas-powered three-wheeler called the Raven.

The car is powered by a 3-cylinder, 800cc gas engine that produces about 45 to 50 horsepower. The Raven is expected to get at least 65 miles per gallon and be able to reach speeds of 90 mph.

Many will remember the Sparrow for its appearance in the movie “Austin Powers,” but the company faltered and Corbin Motors filed for bankruptcy in 2003.  Corbin, which produced the three-wheeled Sparrow and Merlin Roadster cars, lost more than $11 million of investors’ money before going bankrupt, according to the Hollister Free Lance.

Now Mike Corbin says the timing is right for the new Raven, with high gas prices expected this summer.

Four Ravens can be parked in a single parking spot, making the car ideal for many commuters. The trunk is expected to be able to hold six bags of groceries. The car is expected to be available to consumers by the second half of 2008 with a price tag between $10,000 and $12,000.

Source:  Hollister Free Lance

Microsoft developing digital furniture

May 30, 2007

Having just tried its hand at developing a digital music player, Microsoft is working on something new: digital furniture.

The company plans to unveil a computing device today called Microsoft Surface, featuring a 30-inch screen embedded in an acrylic tabletop. The device’s electronic guts are hidden in the low-slung table’s thick pedestal.

At first glance, Surface is reminiscent of an old-fashioned arcade game table around which patrons played Pac-Man. But there is no joystick here, and no mouse or keyboard either. The device is controlled by touching the tabletop display.

Microsoft says this touch screen will allow people to “interact with digital content the same way they have interacted with everyday items such as photos, paintbrushes and music their entire life: with hands, with gestures and by putting real-world objects on the surface.”

For example, when a digital camera with Wi-Fi capabilities is placed on the display, the table recognizes the camera and, at a touch of the screen, downloads its photos and video clips. The digital pictures can be sorted and sized by “handling” them as if they were physical prints.

Source: New York Times

Welcome to London, your robocab awaits

May 30, 2007

Heathrow airport in the United Kingdom is to switch to autopilot with the world’s first fleet of driverless taxis to whisk passengers around the airport.

The electrically powered “pod cabs” will allow users to key in their destination and be carried there automatically along special roadways at speeds of up to 25mph.

The cabs are designed to take four passengers along with their luggage. They will also be big enough for a bicycle or a pushchair.

The first stage of the project, costing about £30m, is due to come into service later next year to take passengers on a four-minute journey from a car park to the new terminal 5, which will open in the spring.

If it is successful, BAA, Heathrow’s operator, plans to spend £200m expanding the system, with at least 400 vehicles replacing the current fleet of shuttle buses.

Source:  Times

And They All Lived Technologically Ever After

May 30, 2007

We are riding the cusp of a technobiological revolution that promises (or threatens, depending on point of view) to transform what we do, how we do it, and even what we are.

Through our technological prowess we seem to be transitioning to a new species.

Expert best-guess prognoses for the future are startling and controversial, but if they are right, what it means to be human will soon change forever—in part because, according to some leading-edge thinkers, technology is about to challenge the notion of mortality itself.

Full article:  Vision

European group to build robot with artificial brain, skin

May 30, 2007

Robot The race to create more human-like robots stepped up a gear this week as scientists in Spain set about building an artificial cerebellum.

The end-game of the two-year project is to implant the man-made cerebellum in a robot to make movements and interaction with humans more natural.

The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls motor functions.

Researchers hope that the work might also yield clues to treat cognitive diseases such as Parkinson’s.

The research, being undertaken at the Department of Architecture and Computing Technology at the University of Granada, is part of a wider European project dubbed Sensopac.

The next stage of the Sensopac project is to develop an artificial skin for robots, making them look more human-like as well as being information-sensitive in the same way as human skin is.

Source:  BBC News

Will Warming Lead to a Rise in Hurricanes?

May 29, 2007

Will Warming Lead to a Rise in Hurricanes?

When people worry about the effects of global warming, they worry more about hurricanes than anything else. In surveys, almost three-quarters of Americans say there will be more and stronger hurricanes in a warming world. By contrast, fewer than one-quarter worry about increased coastal flooding.

But as far as the scientific consensus is concerned, people have things just about backward.

There is no doubt that as the world warms, seas will rise, increasing the flood risk, simply because warmer water occupies more space. (And if the Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets melt, the rise will be far greater.)

It seems similarly logical that as the world warms, hurricanes will be more frequent or more powerful or both. After all, they draw their strength from warm ocean waters. But while many scientists hold this view, there is far less consensus, in part because of new findings on other factors that may work against stronger, more frequent storms.

Source:  New York Times