The new year is off to a great start with a range of technology sure to blow your mind. From plants that glow to allligator-cams to windmills that fit on a penny, this week's round of tasty tech will get your mouth watering for more.
Missouri-based Bioglow has produced the Starlight Avatar, a genetically engineered plant that casts a soft glow without using any electricity. The company thinks their plants could be used as decorative landscaping, eliminating the need for night time lighting.
Dutch medical physicist Arie van't Riet began making X-rays of plants and flowers back in 2007 to show his radiography students how different thicknesses of material absorb X-ray radiation. The resulting images were so beautiful, he began focusing more on the art. Now he creates "bioramas" by arranging plants and animals that are already deceased -- such as museum specimens, since the radiation would kill a living critter.
See more of his images at FastCoLabs
A windmill 1/10th the size of a grain of rice could be the next big power producer. Engineers at UT Arlington think that hundreds of these energy-generators, made from cheap nickel alloy, could power cellphones.
A Crittercam unit attached to a 2.6-meter American alligator helped researchers from the University of Florida understand the animal better than ever. Among other things, the video footage revealed that the predators hunt most often at night, even though the probability of a successful catch is highest during the morning hours.
The Lepton Sensor, small infrared sensor designed by FLIR Systems, fits inside a smartphone or tablet and can turn those into handheld infrared sensors. A sleeve-like sensor attachment that fits over an iPhone 5 or 5s does that same. Now anyone can use infrared sensing to identify a home's heating or cooling leaks, locate studs or water damage, observe wildlife or just make sure a campfire is fully extinguished.
Officials in New York City have created a plan to convert one-third of its taxicab fleet to electric by 2020. Electric taxis would save 13 million gallons of gasoline per year and protect operators against fluctuating gas prices.
This triple-decker whale-like plane, conceived of by Barcelona-based designer Oscar Viñals, could reduce air and noise pollution. The plan calls for “a unique, hybrid turbo-electric propulsion systems,” active wings, carbon nanotubes, self-healing skin and virtual reality windows. It can accommodate 755 passengers and, boy, does it look cool.
Reknowned cryptographer Phil Zimmerman has created Blackphone, the world's first snoop-free smartphone. Zimmerman developed an operating system for Android phones that allows a user to obtain all available apps, but with an added layer of security for calls and text messages.
To really get a grasp on why so many honeybees are dying, scientists in Australia have outfitted 5,000 bees with tiny sensors that broadcast a single. Every time a bee passes a certain checkpoint, a device picks up the signal and therefore the bee's presence and logs the data. Their goal is to track how bees move in a specific environment and gain insight crucial information about how the bees might be contracting or disseminating disease.
Called TellSpec, this handheld scanner (red) uses a Raman spectrometer to analyze what's in any food on your plate and give you a reading that's 97.7 percent accurate. The information is sent to a smartphone app, where users can determine instantly if the food contains certain chemicals, allergens and other ingredients like trans-fats. It can also break down the amount of sugars, fats and more per gram.
The smog in Beijing, China, is off the charts. This week it got so bad that the the city used large LED screens — the one above from Tiananmen Square — that normally announce tourist destinations or make public announcements to project sunsets.
Sperm could be the next biological engine used to propel micro robots through bodily fluids. That's what researchers at IFW Dresden are investigating. They captured bovine sperm in a conical tube and then used a magnetic field to guide the tube in a particular direction, relying on the sperm for the propulsion. The tiny spermbot could be used to deliver payloads of drugs or even sperm itself to parts of the body where its needed.