BERKELEY, Kalifornia (PNN) - October 17, 2014 - The magnetic poles of the earth have switched back and forth many, many times during the 4.54 billion years that the Earth has been around. Previous research suggested that the process of reversing the poles took place over a long time period, potentially over a few thousand years. But new research shows that the reversal could actually happen much faster than that, with the magnetic North Pole migrating to the South Pole in a time span as short as a century.
If you're a fan of Harry Potter or Star Trek, you probably already know what cloaking devices do. In the world of science fiction, they can make things disappear, just like magic. But how does cloaking work in the real world? It can often be a very complicated setup that involves a lot of math and specialized optics, but researchers at the University of Rochester have been working on simplifying that approach.
If your car was powered by thorium, you would never need to refuel it. The vehicle would burn out long before the chemical did. The thorium would last so long, in fact, it would probably outlive you. That's why a company called Laser Power Systems has created a concept for a thorium-powered car engine. The element is radioactive, and the team uses bits of it to build a laserbeam that heats water, produces steam, and powers an energy-producing turbine.
MELBOURNE, Australia (PNN) - October 14, 2014 - Thanks to a pair of Melbourne security researchers, the cost of opening safes just hit a new low. Using an arduino platform and 3-D printed parts, the pair has created a contraption that can open many combination locks, like those on ATMs and gun safes. The device costs just $150 in parts, but people shouldn’t throw out their safes just yet: it takes about four days to crack the lock.
PRINCETON, New Jersey (PNN) - October 13, 2014 - No tool in existence protects your anonymity on the Web better than the software Tor, which encrypts Internet traffic and bounces it through random computers around the world. But for guarding anything other than Web browsing, Tor has required a mixture of finicky technical setup and software tweaks. Now routing all your traffic through Tor may be as simple as putting a portable hardware condom on your Ethernet cable.
NEW YORK (PNN) - October 6, 2014 - A company has installed beacons inside hundreds of downtown New York City pay phones that ping the smart phones and tablets of New Yorkers walking by. The beacons are able to gather information about the locations of passersby, the time they passed the beacon, and what websites they visit, among other information. The beacons exchange data over Bluetooth.
ODENSE, Denmark (PNN) - October 4, 2014 - Using specially synthesized crystalline materials, scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have created a substance that is able to absorb and store oxygen in such high concentrations that just one bucketful is enough to remove all of the oxygen in a room. The substance is also able to release the stored oxygen in a controlled manner when it is needed, so just a few grains could replace the need for divers to carry bulky scuba tanks.
CUPERTINO, Kalifornia (PNN) - October 1, 2014 - FireChat is a chatting app. After registering with a name - no email address or other personal identifiers required - you’re dropped into a fast-moving chatroom of “Everyone” using it in your country. The interesting aspect, however, is the “Nearby” option. Here, the app uses Apple’s Multipeer Connectivity framework, essentially a peer-to-peer feature that lets you share messages (and soon photos) with other app users nearby, regardless of whether you have an actual Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
ROCHESTER, New York (PNN) - September 26, 2014 - Watch out Harry Potter; you are not the only wizard with an invisibility cloak.
Scientists at the University of Rochester have discovered a way to hide large objects from sight using inexpensive and readily available lenses, a technology that seems to have sprung from the pages of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter fantasy series.
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (PNN) - September 26, 2014 - Maritime smugglers will often hide contraband in false hulls or propeller shafts within their boats. While there are ways in which port authorities can search for such stashes, the smugglers often have time to ditch their illicit goods before those searches can be performed. However, what if there were stealthy, inexpensive, underwater hull-hugging robots that could check the boats out, without the crews even knowing they were there? That's just what a team at MIT is developing.