While you're frolicking in the surf on your summer vacation, we're beating back the tide of technology that never stops rolling in. From the world's largest tunnel-boring machine to 3-D printed shells for hermit crabs to curved, flat-panel TVs to tick-terminating robots, we can't keep from getting capsized. Here are our favorites.
Every year, the UK's British Heart Foundation holds a competition to find the most interesting images produced by its researchers. This image, which won second place, was created by Dr. Jana Koth of the University of Oxford and shows the front view of a two-day-old zebra fish heart. The heart muscle is shown as green; organic tissue still developing into cells is shown as red and blue
Hermit crabs will call anything home. But these lucky crabs get to live in crystal palaces. Artist and designer Aki Inomata has used 3-D printing techniques to create crystalline shelters modeled after New York City, flowers, Parisian apartments and Tokyo skyscrapers.
The mayor of Japan's Tsukuba City, Kenichi Ichihara, leads a pack of commuters, including Toyota Motor partner robot director Akifumi Tamaoki (second) and city hall employees. Their mode of transportation? Toyota's Winglet, a new personal mobility robot being tested until 2016.
Small hexagonal helicopters learned to self-assemble into a multi-rotor pod that can take any shape. Alone, the modules cannot fly. In order to do so, they must come together, physically connect to one another, calibrate their sensors and then start their propellers in unison. While in flight, each rotor determines how to correct for pitch and roll. Once the raft of flying robots reaches a predetermined altitude, they break apart and fall to the ground and start the self-assembly process again, taking on a different shape.
On July 20, Bertha, the world's largest tunnel-boring machine was dedicated in the city of Seattle. The nearly 7000-ton, tube-shaped drill is 57-and-a-half feet in diameter. It will spend 14 months boring a 1.7 mile tunnel under the city as part of a project to replace a viaduct damaged in a 2001 earthquake.
LG's 4.3-mm thin, curved organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV is showing up in the United States, courtesy of Best Buy. The curve gives TV watchers an optimum-viewing angle and the 54.6-diagonal inches of screen doesn't hurt either. Suggested retail price: US $14,999.
Researchers from the Virginia Military Institute have built a tick-terminating system that includes a small rover and lawn tubes that emit CO2, mimicking a live host. The gas draws ticks from their hiding places. A trailing cloth behind the robot gives the ticks something to grab onto, but it's drenched in insecticide, so it kills them on contact.
The Norwegian town of Rjukan, which spends half a year in the dark shadow of a mountain, is installing mountaintop mirrors to shine sunlight into the valley. The 328-square-foot mirrors will track the sun and tilt for an optimal angle, shining a 2,000-square-foot circle of sun onto the town's main square.
The submarine robot MEDUSA was launched on July 25, 2013, in La Seyne-sur-Mer, southern France. The Portuguese-designed robot is part of the European project MORPH (Marine Robotic System of Self-Organizing, Logically Linked Physical Nodes), which aims at creating underwater robotic systems that can explore and communicate autonomously.
The head-mounted device named Air Touch was introduced by Golden Tiao, a research team leader and deputy general director of Electronics and Optoelectronics Research Laboratories at the Industrial Technology Research Institute. The device combines a 3-D floating display, depth camera and gesture recognition, and allows users to operate it through gesture control.