Observations of a blown mind

Posts tagged “Technology


The loudest sounds you can stand actually don’t have much energy in them.

Stand next to the entrance ramp of a busy freeway at rush hour or walk into an American Eagle clothing store and the first thing you’ll notice is the noise. The din can seem deafening, and it’s tempting to imagine channeling that sound energy into a way to power streetlights and electric cars—or at least to charge your smartphone.

“There is definitely energy contained in that sound,” says David Cohen-Tanugi, vice president of the MIT Energy Club and a John S. Hennessy Fellow in MIT’s Materials Science and Engineering department . “But the density of the energy is very low, and there is no way to capture it all. You’d have to have obscenely loud, continuous noise for harvesting to be worthwhile.”

What the human ear perceives as clanging cacophony—the roar of a train engine or the whine of a pneumatic drill—only translates to about a hundredth of a watt per square meter. In contrast, the amount of sunlight hitting a given spot on the earth is about 680 watts per meter squared. “That’s many orders of magnitude more,” explains Cohen-Tanugi. “That’s why it’s more efficient to collect and store sunlight using solar panels than to harvest energy from sound. And the energy density in oil and gas is orders and orders of magnitude higher, making generating power from those sources even more cost effective.”

That’s not to say researchers aren’t examining ways to transfer environmental noise into electrical energy. Passing trains and subways aren’t only loud, but their surroundings rattle and vibrate as they pass, and part of the thrill of a rock concert is feeling the whole auditorium shake. “There’s a strong interplay between vibrations through the medium that you hear through—air or water—and the physical objects around you,” says Cohen-Tanugi. “It’s perfectly conceivable to absorb that movement and glean useable energy. You’re not going to power a city with it, but you can power small devices.”

He cites the work of London-based Facility: Innovate, an architectural research firm investigating ways to convert environmental vibrations into electricity. As crowds walk through malls, sports arenas, and other high-traffic areas, small hydraulic generators beneath the company’s floor tiles capture the vibrations of their steps –and generate enough electricity to power nearby phone-charging stations and illuminate electronic signage and advertising.

Though still in the research phase, such technology could mean a new era in energy generation and conservation. “Harvesting acoustic noise is more about mechanical vibrations than sound itself,” says Cohen-Tanugi. “The idea is definitely there, and it’s quite promising.”


Orbital Rolls Out Antares Rocket


Company Targets April 17 for Inaugural Launch of America’s Newest Medium-Class Space Launch Vehicle

Early this morning, Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) rolled out the first fully integrated Antares(TM) rocket from its assembly building at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in eastern Virginia in preparation for its inaugural flight that is scheduled for April 17 at approximately 5:00 p.m. (EDT). This morning, beginning at about 4:30 a.m., the Antares rocket was transported about one mile to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) launch pad complex aboard the Transporter/Erector/Launcher (TEL), a specialized vehicle that also raises the rocket to a vertical position on the launch pad and serves as a support interface between the rocket and the launch complex’s systems.

“With the completion of the Antares roll out today, we are on a clear path to a launch date of April 17, provided there are no significant weather disruptions or major vehicle check-out delays between now and then,” said Mr. Michael Pinkston, Orbital’s Antares Program Manager. “By later today, the Antares rocket will be in a vertical position and fully integrated with the launch mount on the MARS pad.”

The Antares test flight, dubbed the A-ONE mission, is the first of two missions Orbital is scheduled to conduct in 2013 under its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Space Act Agreement with NASA. Following a successful A-ONE launch, Orbital will carry out a full flight demonstration of its new Antares/Cygnus cargo delivery system to the International Space Station (ISS) around mid-year. In addition, the company is also scheduled to launch the first of eight operational cargo resupply missions to the ISS in 2013 under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA. All COTS and CRS flights will originate from NASA’s WFF, which is geographically well suited for ISS missions and can also accommodate launches of scientific, defense and commercial satellites to other orbits.

The Antares medium-class launch system will provide a major increase in the payload launch capability that Orbital can provide to NASA, the U.S. Air Force and other customers. The Antares rocket will launch spacecraft weighing up to 14,000 lbs. into low-Earth orbit, as well as lighter-weight payloads into higher-energy orbits. Orbital’s newest launcher is currently on-ramped to both the NASA Launch Services-2 and the U.S. Air Force’s Orbital/Suborbital Program-3 contracts, enabling the two largest U.S. government space launch customers to order Antares for “right-size and right-price” launch services for medium-class spacecraft.

About Orbital

Orbital develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company’s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary exploration spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to U.S. Government agencies and laboratories.

More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com


How do touch-sensitive screens work?

(Image: Fraunhofer IPA )

(Image: Fraunhofer IPA )

Touchscreens have used a variety of techniques over the last two decades to detect the placement of a finger on a screen—ranging from mechanical, optical, and electrical sensing. Today’s capacitive electrical touchscreens have proven to be the most versatile and efficient way to sense human touch.

A capacitor is an electrical circuit that, in its simplest form, is composed of two conductive electrodes separated by an insulating gap. A direct current (DC) of electricity can’t straddle this gap, but an alternating current (AC) can induce a charge to flow from one side to the other. The surface of a touchscreen is blanketed with a grid of electrodes. Wherever our finger comes to rest, a capacitive contact is formed and the AC current generated within the device induces a corresponding current within our body—which helps span the gap and complete the circuit.

Human beings are good conductors, so using our fingers to close an electrical circuit makes it very easy to detect human touch with high fidelity. If a grid location on the touchscreen is to sense the AC current, there has to be a return [electrical] path. For a touchscreen on a handheld device such as a smartphone, you’re holding it with the other hand, and this completes the electrical loop to the backside of the device, which is electrically grounded. If the touchscreen is part of an installation, such as an ATM, some part of our body is most likely in contact with an electrical ground. It’s very hard (for our bodies) to avoid making a ground contact, which virtually guarantees that humans (or their fingers) can close an electrical loop for capacitive screens.

If it sounds alarming to have electricity passing through your body, worry not. The AC currents in touchscreens are within levels for natural charge conduction in our bodies—and the true revolution and utility of modern touchscreens lies in the rapidity of their responses. The unsung hero is the microcontroller. Behind every electrode on a touchscreen grid lies an embedded microcontroller that has a clockspeed of nanoseconds. It is this fast response time that enables modern smartphones to have such smooth interaction with human touch, and it is this progress that has driven the growing appeal of touchscreens in recent years.

Capacitive sensing has led to unexpected new innovations, such as the leading sensor used in auto safety systems for cars to detect the location of their occupants, and based on a kind of imaging that uses electric fields. With a little cooperation between man and machine, touch-sensitive screens have opened the doors to a host of new interactive technologies.


Exclusive! GetGlue “fuck off world!”

GetGlue – pisses off the rest of the world

If like me you are a regular user of the GetGlue application for Android, and also use the website, I am sure you too have been dismayed at the changes recently implemented.

It seems GetGlue has decided for some reason to move away from an international market and focus solely on its American based users. Why on earth tinker, fettle, mess around and piss off your international users?

Basically the website sucks arse! Why? Because you no longer have the ability to check in to Books, Games, Music and so on. Crapola at it’s finest. 3 million users, but how many will they lose if they implement the new changes permanently? Well I’m off if they do!

But fear not, for the moment you are able to still use the old unobliterated version of the site click here to get to it.

I heartily suggest you lodge a complaint if you feel as strongly as I do. Email the fluffers the error of their ways!

Riots abound after GetGlue upsets non-US residents with changes to their website which are only usable in the USA

So what has your ‘god’ done for you today?

Hopefully this will cause a bit of a stir amongst the community and get people talking!

In 1997 Richard Lee Norris (37 yrs) was horrifically injured in a gun accident. He was then treated by 100-strong team of skilled Doctors at the University of Maryland in March 2012. The pictures below  show an incredible transformation and are testiment to the skill of the Doctors, and the power of human will to get better.  Thank you science and medicine!

These are the incredible before-and-after pictures of 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris who was given the most extensive face transplant ever performed.

Richard Norris after initial Surgery (1)

During Surgery (2)

After the final Surgery (3)

This case is an amazing example of what we can achieve with science and technology.

For 15 years, Mr Norris lived as a recluse in Hillsville, Virginia, hiding behind a mask and only coming out at night time. He can now feel his face and is able to brush his teeth and shave. He’s also regained his sense of smell, which he had lost after the accident. Mr Norris said: ‘I am now able to walk past people and no one even gives me a second look’

When he shot himself in the face, Mr Norris lost his nose, lips and most movement in his mouth. He has had multiple life-saving, reconstructive surgeries which also replaced underlying nerve and muscle tissue from scalp to neck. Motor function is now 80 per cent on the right side of the face and 40 per cent on the left.

‘I am now able to walk past people and no one even gives me a second look. My friends have moved on with their lives, starting families and careers. I can now start working on the new life given back to me,’ he said.

He received his new face from an anonymous donor in March whose organs saved five other patients’ lives on the same day.

The transplant was led by Dr Eduardo D. Rodriguez, professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of plastic, reconstructive and maxillofacial surgery at Shock Trauma. ‘Before, people used to stare at Richard because he wore a mask and they wanted to see the deformity,’ Rodriguez said in March. ‘Now, they have another reason to stare at him, and it’s really amazing.’

Mr Norris opened his eyes on the third day after the surgery with his family around him. ‘He put the mirror down and thanked me and hugged me,’ said Dr Rodriguez.  ‘We concealed all the lines so it would give him the most immediate best appearance with minimal touch-ups down the road.’

To ensure Mr Norris would retain maximum function of his facial expressions and movements, doctors gave him a new tongue for proper speech, eating, and chewing, normally aligned teeth, and connected his nerves to allow for smiling.

Norris’s transplant comes on the heels of successful face transplants in Forth Worth, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts, last year. He is the first full face transplant recipient in the United States to retain his eyesight.

A virtual army of 100 doctors, scientists and other university medical staff ranging from plastic surgeons to craniofacial specialists teamed up for the operation.

The surgery involved ten years of research funded by the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research, and will serve as a model for helping war veterans injured by improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.

Rodriguez saluted the work of the teams around the world that had conducted the 22 face transplants to date, without which, he said, this operation would not have been possible.

The Department of Defense has been funding some face and hand surgeries with the goal of helping wounded soldiers. More than 1,000 troops have lost an arm or leg in Afghanistan or Iraq, and the government estimates that 200 troops might be eligible for face transplants.

The University of Maryland’s research on transplants was funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research, and doctors said they hope to begin operating soon on military patients. Officials provided little detail on Norris or the circumstances of the accident.

‘This accidental injury just destroyed everything. The rest of his friends and colleagues went on to start getting married, having children, owning homes,’ Dr Rodriguez said.

‘He wants to make up for all of that.’

‘Amazing’: The operation by Dr Rodriguez and his team took 36 hours and is believed to be the most extensive procedure of its kind ever performed.

Clever men and women did this. Not ‘god’ not religion. Nope it was Science, Medicine, and Technology, along with very clever men and women.

All religion did this week was get a 14 year old girl shot because she wanted to learn.

Discuss – Chris