The Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering are back with another mind-blowing robot. This one doesn’t have a specific name, but Samuel Felton, grad student working on the project, simply describes it as a, “Self-Folding, printed inchworm.” It’s literally a printable robot that uses shape memory polymers to fold itself using small electrical currents, and then can inch along just like it’s worm counterpart. (more…)
What do you get when you add a 132 inch VantagePoint wall display, few dozen all-in-one PCs, and control tablet to an average classroom in Taiwan? You get the classroom of the future. In this fascinating illustration, HP is demonstrating how they see the future of learning and what they’ve actually done to make it happen. This classroom example starts with a few standard desks, but quickly evolves into a collaborative and innovative workspace where learning happens purely by immersion. (more…)
Can we build a sustainable world without the necessity of armies, navies, prisons, or police? 95 year old inventor, futurist, and accomplished scientist Jacque Fresco says we can. According to Fresco, we simply have to acknowledge the carry capacity of Earth and design our society accordingly. Language, technology, resources, and our entire presence on this Earth has to be rethought if we want to survive into the future. (more…)
With a wingspan wider than that of a Boeing 747 and 120,000 ultra-thin solar panels supplying sustainable energy, the Solar Impulse is definitely a one of a kind airplane. Solar Impulse is a solely solar powered aircraft and the first of its type to fly even at night. (more…)
Scientists and engineers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired engineering have invented what is, without a doubt, the smallest flying machine humanity has ever conceived. With a wingspan of 3 cm, the “RoboBee” is setting new records and opening new possibilities never before imagined. (more…)
Richard Branson‘s company Virgin Galactic is on the cusp of bringing space exploration to the little guy. His current project, SpaceShipTwo, set a new benchmark speed of Mach 1.2 (faster than the speed of sound) and rose to around 55,000 feet.
At the Intel Future Showcase in Hamburg, Germany, Intel demonstrated their new technology for car headlights. This futuristic piece of kit will allow drivers to see the road and not the blinding glare from rain drops. It’s so futuristic because it’s more than just a lamp at the front of your car- it’s a sophisticated apparatus encompassing microchips, beam splitters, cameras, and even a projector. (more…)
In the theme of Earth day celebrations, here’s a city that plans to redefine the meaning of energy efficiency. This city is called Masdar (in Arabic, the Source), and it’s being developed 17 km (11 mi) southeast of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Masdar City is expected to be inhabitable by 2015, but right now it’s already raising some eyebrows at its future potential for the ultimate green capabilities. (more…)
It is already known algae is a surprisingly efficient source of oil and gas. In Hamburg Germany, BIQ and several other companies have constructed a revolutionarily energy efficient residential building which employs an algae filled “bio-skin” to use this microscopic plant to heat, power, and shade itself.
Nitrogen is an abundant gas fundamental to life and the universe. At a low enough temperature, like -321F (-195C), it becomes a liquid that can freeze ice cream ingredients in only a minute. Smitten Ice Cream in San Francisco is using this technology to churn ice cream with an entertaining show of science. Robyn Sue, the founder with ‘two stomachs’, invented what she calls Kelvin: a liquid nitrogen ice cream churning machine capable of creating what some call “a totally new treat.” (more…)
Engineers at the UCSD Jacob’s School of Engineering are developing a toxin and bacteria absorbing nanosponge that promises to clean up our bodies- from the inside. These sponges have a biocompatible polymer core encased in a blood cell membrane which tricks the body into thinking it’s a blood cell. (more…)
Obama met the media at Kennedy Space Center this April in celebration of the third anniversary of his first visit. Like a true politician however, he did an articulate job of making it seem like America is invested in our space program. He exhibited the Orion spacecraft which is planned to intercept an asteroid by 2021 and wowed the reports by letting them get a first-person view of the actual work being done. (more…)
Forget traveling directly to the asteroid- that’s too expensive. Today, NASA Chief Charles Bolden proposed a plan for an asteroid “lasso” mission that will bring a 500-ton rock to low-earth orbit for human exploration by 2025. (more…)
We’re no longer in the age of bullets, but the age of directed energy weapons. Created by the Naval Sea Systems Command using current fiber solid state lasers, the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) is now changing the face of warfare. (more…)
It may not seem like it, but there’s a robot inside what looks like a human wearing a hazmat suit. The robot’s name is PETMAN, and he’s being developed by Boston Dynamics in cooperation with the Department of Defense. It- or should I say he- has conquered stairs, complicated obstacles, and is now prepared to go where humans can’t: into dangerous environments. The PETMAN demonstrated in this video can sense dangerous chemicals in the air, and even sweat to regulate temperature. The resemblance to human features is uncanny, and it’s almost eerie to watch it move just like us. It seems like we are literally witnessing the rise of the robots. (more…)
Developing technology is fascinating to watch. We humans are clearly making monumental progress right before our very eyes. DARPA‘s Pet-Proto Robot, for example, can now climb stairs and traverse large obstacles that even some humans would find difficult. This robot, reminiscent of a real-life terminator, could be the next piece of kit stopping criminals in the street. Let’s just hope it doesn’t become self-aware!
Imagine materials that naturally pump water from one place to another- without using any electricity. At MIT, researchers are developing this technology using nano-wires that utilize nature’s own capillary action to move water. In nature, capillary action happens in very thin veins of trees. So thin in fact, that in order to match the same action used by plants, these wires have to be only a few nanometers thick. That’s only a few billionths of a meter. Although this new technology may seem obscure, it has numerous potential applications in microfluidics, biomedical research, and even inkjet printers. What else do you expect from America’s greatest young minds?
Our value system, and ultimately existence, has reached a critical threshold. Can we continue as humans to suffer from the global inequality that stems from a materialistic and competitive society? Jacque Fresco, architect of the Venus Project and guest speaker on the Larry King show, says we have options. According to Fresco, we shouldn’t adhere blindly to politicians and tradition, but rather turn to the STEM fields to physically construct an new world. One of his most interesting propositions is volcano power which could allegedly electrify the entire world. But even if Fresco sounds somewhat radical, you have to acknowledge the inherent value of engineering and problem solving on our global issues. As Fresco says, “These aren’t [racial] problems, these are human problems.”
Mechanical engineer Katherine Kuchenbecker is working with a massive group of students and professors at the University of Pennsylvania to bring touch into the digital world. The field is called haptics, and she has named her technology haptography. Her team is trying to use vibrations, movements, and other feedback mechanisms to accurately simulate the feel of objects as if they are really there. One of the coolest examples from this video is using a stylus to simulate the texture and feel of canvas. There are numerous potential applications, but this mainly deserves to be on itsabeautifulearth because it’s neat technology. Keep the awards coming Katherine!
Mark Shaw, inventor of “Macroencapulsation,” gave the driest TED talk they’ve ever had. He introduced what he calls Ultra-Ever Dry, which he basically described as a super-hydrophobic spray capable of waterproofing anything. The difference between Ultra-Ever Dry and previous hydrophobic materials is that Ultra-Ever Dry maintains the unaltered shape of a water droplet. This means the water seemingly rolls off of any surface. It does this by creating an extremely thin layer of air above the surface it protects. This innovative use of nanotechnology is not only fit for TED, but the world and science lovers everywhere. Thanks Mark!
Rainn Wilson‘s latest project, Soul Pancake, now includes an interview with Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal, SpaceX, SolarCity, and Tesla Motor. Wilson trapped Musk in the back of his van so he could ask him questions about how he generates his ideas and even how he views humanity. It’s not very often you see a man worth $2.4 billion in the back of a creepy van. Musk, nonetheless handles it with his usual visionary swagger and intellect. I would write what they talked about, but it’s too much for a short description. Just watch the interview and you shall see.
So the world’s first private space exploration company and Elon’s Musks brainchild SpaceX has been hard at work for the past 11 years. So far they have delivered the first private resupply to the International Space Station and developed a reusable rocket which promises to dramatically reduce the cost of space exploration. Although progress may seem somewhat slow, it’s important to understand all of these accomplishments are coming from a private company with no government regulated funding. It looks like the private sector is diving into the void of space when the government don’t feel it is necessary.
Two of the world’s mightiest intellectual giants discussed the future at TED2013, and it was something tobehold. Elon Musk, the founder of Paypal, Solarcity, Tesla, and especially the world’s first private space exploration company- SpaceX- had an epic interview with Chris Anderson, the world’s greatest TEDster. Musk was asked about his vision for the future of humanity with regards to his innovative companies like Tesla and SpaceX. He apparently sees Tesla as the company with a three step process of trying to make electric cars a real possibility for most households, and SpaceX as the solution to humanity’s confinement to this planet. Elon is without a doubt one of the most successful, and especially innovative, visionaries of this generation. If there’s anyone who can unleash the true potential of natural energy into our civilization, it is him.
Creator of Khan Academy and former hedge fund analyst Salman Khan says we can improve the classroom by integrating videos into the lessons. In this TEDEducation presentations he explains everything from how he got started all the way to the current Khan Academy website and his philosophy about education. Some how he started with videos for tutoring, and then ended up with one of the world’s most popular educational websites with over 1 billion students.