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Jim Lillie

Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018 00:00

Too Hot? Too Cold? Or Just Right?

OK, Goldilocks-inclined airline passengers: There's finally a way to let a flight crew know if the temperature of the cabin isn't to your liking. And you don't have to draw the attention of the entire passenger contingent by hitting a service button and then lamely try to explain that it isn't just you but you'd like the crew to do something about the temperature. While everyone stares at you.

In fact, the flight attendants appear to be on the side of the temperature-challenged in this instance. They, after all, are the ones that developed an app for this purpose, known as 2Hot2Cold, and unveiled it at an event at Washington's Reagan National Airport.

The app was developed as a joint effort between the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents about 50,000 flight attendants from 20 airlines, and the Transport Workers Union, which represents roughly 15,000 flight attendants who work for Southwest Airlines.

Just when one thinks that scientists tend to take themselves too seriously, or perhaps not seriously enough, there's this.

Anders Sandberg, a computational neuroscientist at the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, decided to explore the above-titled issue, posting a research paper on the web site arXiv that asked the question, "What if the entire Earth was instantaneously replaced with an equal volume of closely packed, but uncompressed blueberries?"

Sandberg's wonderment assumes the following: That the Earth becomes a mass of "big, thick-skinned highbush blueberries" as opposed to "wild, thin-skinned blueberries."

If that sounds like a distinction without a difference, it's not. According to LiveScience, the larger blueberries would be arranged with significantly more space between them; those spaces would be filled with air, which would also give rise to an interesting set of circumstances.

Saturday, 11 August 2018 00:00

Catch a Wave on an Electric Board

The Awake Rävik, which operates at speeds up to 35 mph (30 knots or 56 kmh) via a wireless hand-held controller, can coast through waves without polluting the atmosphere with fumes or excess sound.

The result of a year-and-a-half's worth of development and testing, the Rävik can provide 40 minutes of "mixed runtime" on a single charge. An integrated LED indicator lets the rider know when power is fading so that a return trip to shore can be safely anticipated. Users can swap out batteries, which require a charge time of 80 minutes each.

The board's carbon fiber body weighs 77 lbs (35 kg), including the battery pack, and dimensions are roughly 5 feet by 2 feet by a little more than a half-foot in thickness. Not exactly something that easily slings over one's shoulder, but also not excessively unwieldy once in the water.

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