Wednesday, February 21, 2018

MIT Extracts Power from Temperature Fluctuations

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As a civilization, we are proficient with the “boil water, make steam” method of turning various heat sources into power we feed our infrastructure. Away from that, we can use solar panels. But what if direct sunlight is not available either? A team at MIT demonstrated how to extract power from daily temperature swings.

Running on temperature difference between day and night is arguably a very indirect form of solar energy. It could work in shaded areas where solar panels would not. But lacking a time machine, or an equally improbable portal to the other side of the planet, how did they bring thermal gradient between day and night together?

This team called their invention a “thermal resonator”: an assembly of materials tuned to work over a specific range of time and temperature. When successful, the device output temperature is out-of-phase with its input: cold in one section while the other is hot, and vice versa. Energy can then be harvested from the temperature differential via “conventional thermoelectrics”.

Power output of the initial prototype is modest. Given a 10 degree Celsius daily swing in temperature, it could produce 1.3 milliwatt at maximum potential of 350 millivolt. While the Hackaday coin-cell challenge participants and other pioneers of low-power electronics could probably do something interesting, the rest of us will have to wait for thermal resonator designs to evolve and improve on its way out of the lab.

[via Engadget]

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The U.S. Government Accuses Two Chinese Phone Makers of Spying on Americans - Here's Why We Think It's Bullsh*t

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The CIA, NSA, and FBI are accusing the Chinese government of using Huawei and ZTE phones to spy on Americans. The thing is, there's no hardcore evidence. Even though the company denied these allegations, they need to show their customers that their phones are safe to use.

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Intel ships update for newest Spectre-affected chips

 Intel has announced that the fix is out for its latest chips affected by Spectre, the memory-leakage flaw affecting practically all computing hardware. The patch is for the Skylake generation (late 2015) and newer, though most users will still have to wait for the code to be implemented by whoever manufactured their computer (specifically, their motherboard). Read More
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Blame air currents for the East Coast’s warm spell, and also climate change

The US East Coast has been unusually hot this week, breaking temperature records from Boston to Washington, DC. But what’s causing this sudden warm spell?

The answer has to do with the air currents in the atmosphere, according to Mark Chenard, a meteorologist at the Weather Prediction Center in College Mark, Maryland. Most of the time, winds in the atmosphere flow from west to east; this is called “zonal flow” and it’s responsible for our everyday weather. But every once in a while, the winds start flowing north to south, creating a pattern called “amplified flow.”

“Cold air from north comes down south, and warm air from the south goes north,” he says. So, warm air from the Gulf of Mexico is floating upward toward those of us in the...

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2018 Ferrari Portofino First Drive: Every Bit a Proper Prancing Horse

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Before 2008, no roadgoing Ferrari had ever featured an eight-cylinder engine ahead of the driver, a dual-clutch automatic transaxle at the rear, direct fuel-injection, or a power-folding hardtop. All of those brand firsts showed up at once on the sweet-driving California, wrapped, sadly, in suboptimal styling. READ MORE ››

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This flying jet ski blows boring boats out of the water

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The Flyride is a personal watercraft with powerful jet propulsion that allows it to lift and become a 'hydroflyer.' Read more...

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Engineering against all odds, or how NYC’s subway will get wireless in the tunnels

 Never ask a wireless engineer working on the NYC subway system “What can go wrong?” Flooding, ice, brake dust, and power outages relentlessly attack the network components. Rats — many, many rats — can eat power and fiber optic cables and bring down the whole system. Humans are no different, as their curiosity or malice strikes a blow against wireless hardware… Read More
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Meet the company trying to break the taser monopoly

Last month, Digital Ally, a Kansas-based company known for its police body and dashboard cameras, announced that it had secured a patent for a new conducted electrical weapon. This marked the first time in more than a decade that a serious player in the police business showed interest in building a newer and better taser.

Ever since 2003, when one of the two companies making tasers bought out the other, there has effectively been a taser monopoly. If you’ve ever seen a police officer carrying a taser, that taser was almost certainly manufactured by the publicly traded company formerly known as Taser International, now named Axon Enterprise, Inc.

Axon’s version of the taser isn’t perfect. It uses copper wires to transmit an electrical...

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Scientists Have No Idea Why This Enriched Uranium Particle Was Floating Above Alaska

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On August 3, 2016, seven kilometers above Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, a research plane captured something mysterious: an atmospheric aerosol particle enriched with the kind of uranium used in nuclear fuel and bombs.

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Virgin Galactic’s VR-powered website lets you tour its spaceships

virgin-e.jpgAs Virgin Galactic gears up for commercial spaceflights and science research, the company has partnered up with Microsoft and its Edge browser to create a new website that's both mobile-friendly and WebVR optimized. The new site shows off Virgin's ef... http://ift.tt/2BuxCRc
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