Technology keeps moving forward; there's simply no stopping it. So hop on and go along for the ride. This week, our eyes bugged out over a robot controlled by slime mold, a building powered by feathers, wireless power for city buses and the first bite of a lab-grown burger. Talk about tasty.
GAMIFYING RESEARCH Turning research into games and unleashing them on the public is one way to get something done. To that end, neuroscientist Sebastian Seung of MIT created EyeWire, a browser-based game designed to help scientists map the brain.
WIRELESS POWER FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Two new wireless buses or Online Electric Vehicles, were unveiled earlier this week in South Korea. They were developed by researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. In lieu of batteries, the buses receive wireless power from electric cables buried underneath the surface of the road.
SLIME MOLD SMILES
An installation the Living Machines conference in London is putting a face on slime mold. Computer researcher Ella Gale created an environment for the slime that contains food and electrodes. When the slime moves toward the food, the electrodes capture the signal and translate the motion into a joyful sound and expression on the robotic face. When the slime moves away from the food, the motion is turned into "anger."
FLYING CAR SHOWS OFF
This week at the EAA AirVenture airshow in Wisconsin, the Terrafugia Transition, a flying car, made its first demonstration flight. It took two laps around the airfield, one on the pavement and one in the air.
An architectural competition in Miami calling for entries for an iconic building that represents the city has drawn lots of unusual designs, including this one from Bucharest-based studio Armarada. Their Avis Magica is a vertical tower filled with plants, water, birds, insects, and other fauna and flora. The building would also house energy-generating “feathers," while the plants would serve as a giant oxygen tank for the city.
A new atmospheric diving system called the Exosuit, designed by Phil Nuytten and Nutco Research,is a hard metal diving suit that keeps an explorer at surface pressure levels, while allowing him or her the flexibility to do delicate work at 1,000 feet under the water.
The rugged Ubuntu-driven Sol laptop charges under the sun in two hours and keeps its battery power for 10 hours. The Canada-based makers say the laptop was designed for military personnel as well as people living in countries where electricity is scare or unreliable.
The world's first lab-grown burger was put to a taste Monday in London. The 5-ounce patty was made using strands of meat grown from muscle cells taken from a living cow. It cost more than US $330,000 to produce, a price that would surely need to lower if the artificial beef is to ever grace the dinner plates of the average meat-lover. The beef cells were mixed with salt, egg powder and breadcrumbs to improve the taste, and tinged with red beetroot juice and saffron to improve the color. Researchers claim it will taste similar to a normal burger.
At the Living Machines Conference in London, Barbara Mazzolai of the Italian Institute of Technology unveiled a project called PLANTOID to build a machine that grows roots. Like a living plant, this machine's root system would pull energy from the soil, instead of getting it's energy from batteries, solar or wind.
California-based ChargeAll announced the first wireless charging kiosk. No need to plug in. Just place your device on the charging pad, have a snack and when you return, your phone is charged.