04 May

Medical science can diagnose many things. Broken bones, tumors, high cholesterol and blood pressure... But the inner workings of the human brain have always been elusive. Pain--an important part of patient treatment--is monitored on scales of one to ten, and as we all know, what some define as an "eight," others define as a "ten."

But that may soon change. Researchers, using brain scans, have been able to isolate a "neurological pain signature," visible when pain is felt through the skin. Scientists believe this is the first step toward being able to conclusively diagnose pain from headaches, back difficulties, and diseases.

03 May

Just when you thought you knew everything about how currency works, an overseas programmer creates a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that has the world talking. Banks and federal officials are especially interested in the system, especially as it begins to actually allow users to make purchases.

Bitcoin has no fees for consumers and small fees for businesses are small. Through sites like Mt. Gox, users can trade Bitcoins with people all over the world. Frustration with traditional banks, combined with the growing popularity of the security and ease of online wallets, drove the value of a single Bitcoin up to $147 recently. Using a combination of peer-to-peer networking and public-key cryptography, Bitcoin creates a virtual analogy of gold, similar in its scarcity.

01 May

Getting beamed up got one step closer to reality recently. More like vacuumed up. Through a tube. Like a plastic container at a drive-through bank.

The Residential Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator, pioneered in Argentina and available from Florida-based Daytona Elevator for around $20-22K USD (likely more for installations beyond the Daytona area), is a free-standing, transparent tube that uses air suction -- not cables -- to hoist a passenger between household floors.

29 Apr

Imagine you're 40,000 feet above the earth in a fuel-filled commercial jet, the only thing keeping you in the air is the computer system that powers the plane. Now...imagine some ill-meaning person on the ground decided to hack into that computer system and toy with it?

Scary thought, right?

27 Apr

Coming up with a vehicle that mimics those on the classic video game Mario Kart is one thing. Making one that responds in real time to wired objects -- including plush-toy banana peels shot out of cannons -- is another.

A group of young lab interns set out to do just that when they approached the manager of Austin's Park, a family fun center in Texas. According to an article in Popular Science magazine, the manager didn't just get on board with the idea. He lent the budding engineers a kart.

In order to make their kart interactive, like the game -- where kart racers tool around a track and deal with objects that help or hinder their progress -- the interns had to find a way for the track objects to communicate with the kart.

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