When it comes to alternate energy sources, most automakers think simply—battery power or bust. That’s what makes the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell an outlier. The SUV will be the first mass-produced hydrogen car in the U.S. when it debuts this spring.
Because hydrogen fuel infrastructure is more or less non-existent, Hyundai’s rollout will be small. The car will be available at select dealers in Southern California, all within range of the company’s sources of hydrogen, which include a nearby waste water treatment plant. Local drivers will be able to “gas” up for free at any of seven distribution stations. A fill-up takes less than 10 minutes and lasts for up to 300 miles. The company claims that the Tucson charges more quickly and has a longer range than traditional EVs. It’s also clean: The only exhaust is water vapor.Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell
Range: 300 miles
Top speed: 100 mph
Lease terms: $500/month; $3000 down
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.
J. Craig Venter, the scientist and entrepreneur involved in the first sequencing of the human genome and the first synthetic cell, today announced a typically ambitious project: tack another few decades onto everyone's lives through the largest human genome-sequencing project ever conceived. (Y'know, relatively typical.)
Venter is launching a new company, Human Longevity, through $70 million of venture funding, with the goal of sequencing 40,000 human genomes yearly. Eventually, a bank of biodata will be amassed that could provide insight into age-related illnesses--and maybe even the process of aging itself. The company wants to use new, $10-million machines to drive the cost of a sequence down to about $1,000, and everyone--healthy, sick, young, old--will have their genomes added to the bank.
Next question: How do you make money from that? That's less clear. The company wants to profit from their findings when they're made available, but how long it'll take to make those findings, or if they're even there to find, can't be foreseen. But hopes are high: Vice Chairman Peter H. Diamandis (who has an impressive resume too) told the Times the company aims to make “100 years old the next 60.”
Here's the crazy kicker about this, and the Age We Live In: Google already launched a biotech company, Calico, to do this. Human Longevity might actually have to catch up.
The days of idling wishing for a wearable robot are gone. Researchers at the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory in San Giuliano Terme, Italy, have created a "robo-suit" that is capable of lifting 50 kilograms (110 pounds) with each of its arms.
The robot also moves to mimick the user's actions, such as walking, moving the arms, and picking up things with its hands, er, grippers.
Solar panels usually get placed somewhere in the sun, but out of sight. Rooftops, deserts, mausoleums. But what if they were so beautiful we wanted to put them everywhere?
That could happen! Maybe. We've at least got the groundwork laid out, thanks to a University of Michigan research team that's making solar panels like stained-glass windows: translucent, colored panels filled with solar cells. The red and blue color you see on the American flag was formed by solar cells working at 2 percent efficiency--not the best, but if it's something you wouldn't mind sticking in your window, there's an aesthetic advantage: you can place them in more places, even if the efficiency is lower. (Standard black cells retain all the light; these let some of it pass through to show the color.) The colors, instead of being added with dyes, are formed by a layer of silicon in the cells. The size of the layer changes how the light is transmitted, altering the colors. The researchers say other cells will change colors depending on the angle they're viewed at, but these stay consistent, so can realistically be used for decoration.
Chris Stimac was a typical high school freshman: athletic, friendly, into science. He loved football and hoped to play it in college. But in the winter of 2003, he got a flu-like illness, which left him somehow changed. Stimac descended into a dark, foul mood, and he couldn’t shake exhaustion. When he wasn’t sleeping, he’d sit in his room in a confused daze, emerging only to use the bathroom or eat insatiably. He could devour entire pizzas at once. And if he didn’t get exactly what he wanted, he would scream obscenities uncontrollably.Chris Stimac Courtesy Chris Stimac The episode lasted only a couple of weeks but the symptoms returned about a year later. After that, the spells recurred several times a year. Between episodes, Stimac labored through catch-up work and avoided dating. Doctors ran several sleep studies but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Finally, one suggested he go to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, which diagnosed him with a classic case of a very rare sleep disorder: Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS).
KLS is more common in males and typically strikes in the mid-teens. Researchers are aware of only about 700 cases worldwide. There are two main hypotheses for what causes it, says Emmanuel Mignot, a sleep expert at Stanford University. KLS may be an autoimmune or infectious disease, because it often follows an infection and because it waxes and wanes like a viral illness. Or it may be a metabolic disorder, which would explain the excessive sleep and hunger. Mignot leads a team that is studying about 500 KLS patients to identify genes associated with the disorder. Those genes could help point to a cause and hopefully a treatment. The work could also provide some insight into how the brain controls basic behaviors like sleep, appetite, and sex (because hypersexuality can also be a symptom).
When Stimac reached college, KLS made him miss too much coursework and so he had to drop out his freshman year. “It was wearing me down, stressing me out,” he says. KLS usually fades in a person’s thirties, so although Stimac experienced three episodes last year, he’s cautiously optimistic they’ll soon disappear. Until then, he’s making the most of his time: At 24, he now has a steady job, a new house, and a fiancée.
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Popular Science.
Scientists have created the tiniest "tweezers" known to date, which can move around objects the size of single molecules with a "bow tie" of light.
"To my knowledge these are the smallest tweezers ever built," physicist Mathieu Juan, from Sydney's Macquarie University, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "They will allow people to manipulate, scan and move around very small objects such as viruses."
In a study describing the technology, published in Nature Nanotechnology, the scientists were able to move a plastic sphere--that was only 50 nanometers wide, roughly 1,000 times thinner than a human hair--over significant distances. It works like this, according to ABC:
The researchers focused a beam of laser light through a metal-coated optical fibre. At the tip of the fibre they created an opening shaped like a bowtie, made of two overlapping triangles.
It's the shape of this opening that allows the beam of light to be controlled with such "exquisite precision," says Juan.
The device is based on a mechanism known as "self-induced back action", he explains. In essence, this means that optical tweezers are designed to shape themselves to the presence of the object they are picking up.
The technology could be used to assemble tiny structures or physically manipulate molecules like DNA, the researchers said. Unlike previous technologies, it doesn't increase the temperature of tiny molecules, which are vary sensitive to heat and pressure.
Unveiled last Friday, the Airlander is the world's longest aircraft. Developed by Hybrid Air Vehicles, the 302-foot-long Airlander was once a candidate military craft called "Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle," until Pentagon budget cuts forced the U.S. Army to abandon the program.
The Airlander resembles both a blimp and a Zeppelin, but it's not quite either. Blimps have no rigid internal structure, while Zeppelins (technically, "rigid airships") have a stiff internal structure that holds the shape of the aircraft. The Airlander is, as the company name implies, a hybrid airship that gets lift from bags of helium. It has a rigid structure that offers more control than comes with blimps. To house the massive aircraft, Hybrid Air Vehicles is using a century-old airship hangar in Bedfordshire, England.
The U.S. military considered the Airlander for surveillance and cargo transport. Global Hawks and Grey Eagles, America's go-to surveillance aircraft, can each fly for about 30 hours. Fully stocked, the Airlander could stay in the sky for five days with a human crew. In wars where small armed groups move over vast rural areas, such as in the recent conflict in Afghanistan, a long-range surveillance tool is very valuable. While America's military involvement in Afghanistan is drawing to a close, Hybrid Air Vehicles is billing the Airlander as a tool for humanitarian relief, communications relay, border patrol, search and rescue, and drug enforcement. In addition to surveillance, the Airlander can be set up to carry 55 tons of cargo.
[BBC]The Airlander From Behind This is the backside of the Airlander vehicle. Hybrid Air Vehicles