Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Technology Re-Releasing...Deja Vu, Anyone?

With 2014 on the doorstep and myself back and alive to blog at my discretion, after a rather winded attempt to advert for the blog a bit and yadda yadda,  we have some goodies slated to hit the store shelved in 2014, only I noticed that some of these things have been...well, already done?

Let's start out with the amazing "Livescribe Echo Smartpen"- in short, this pen writes, and as you do, it records whatever is being said so you can play it back to listen to later. It can store hundreds of hours of recording, and sounds like a good idea...only, this has already existed, and even as a piece of tech aimed for the use of kids...remember the Flypen? (pictured left)
I can't recall when exactly this pen was released but it was apparently long enough back that I can't remember...thus further driving home the fact that this is some relatively old technology ( Early 2000's), only redesigned a bit, and pushed to adults this time, instead. It did last a while, the Flypen was discontinued in 2009, and as a novelty it grounded itself for a few respectable years. But can anyone expect much more, from the new Livescribe Echo Smartpen?  That's not for me to say, ladies and gents.

Next up on the list is the all new "iLuv iMM747 Audio Cube" ( Brevity just isn't a thing in names is it?)
This is essentially, what we have all seen already, and that's a plug and play base for your phone/tablet/whatever you carry. We've seen the iPod speakers you can plug into, and other similar devices and the stereo Audio Cube is just another re-skin on old technology, only for the use of an updated ( and likely soon to be dated) , iPad. For $150.00 I wouldn't be jumping right onto this bandwagon, for reasons 1. What's with all the integrated sound and audio systems and apps if you are just going to make it a static stereo system, why not just go buy a real one then? 2. Plug-in speakers simply should never cost so much for portable  devices. 3. What's the point, here? You instantly made it less portable unless you tote a large bag to carry all of this in. I know there's a trend of combining functionality but remember we can let some other devices do jobs, they don't ALL have to act as if they've gone through a liberal arts college for electronics and juggle countless functions, just saying.

Lastly I'd like to mention the Hitachi G-Drive Slim, an external storage device for your computers and related devices.
Cool, OK, we all could use these sometimes, or at least we want one for a reason we can justify if given a few minutes. I'm not questioning the function here, only the idea. It's been done, these things have existed for some time, and though you can make one smaller, that is not creating some sort of brand spanking new thing that is a big deal, it's just been tweaked some. Slimmer, slightly improved...worth paying a lot for? What do you think, if you were using a laptop and a 'slightly' better one was set beside you, would you throw over a thousand bucks down for it? Probably not, I hope, unless you're some spoiled twerp. And place an external storage device beside another; one has a slightly shorter silhouette...is it worth paying for a device all over again? What are we, trying to see if we can fit our lives into a match box? Not everything needs to be constantly diminishing in stature.

See, the problem with calling something "new" is that "new" is really, REALLY overused, and misinterpreted. Now, the dictionary will tell us that "new" means along the lines of something that has not yet been seen or used, something freshly created or formed, built or bought recently. Ok, so this is the same, too right? Well...not really. Even though technically yes this classifies as "new" because it was recently developed and was not yet used at the time, the idea itself has been exhaustively overused. Slim, small, light, tiny, handy...these are all the things technology today wants to emphasize with products, but the technology itself is not really changing, just the appearance of it is. Don't kid yourself, your "brand new" phone or what have you is not really much different than the last one you had if you truly consider how minor the 'improvements' were. We just think so because well, it looks different, right? And they say it's better. And I'm not saying they can't be better, many of them are, but only on such a minor scale I have to ask, why not just give it some time and really release something that will knock us over? Not just, a larger screen. That's the problem with commercial technology, it's redundant, like a certain game line of first person shooters. *cough*.

So I hope individuals would take a moment to really re-evaluate a "new" technology before they throw their precious greenbacks at it, and you may see people around you making fools of themselves when they realize what they just gave an arm for is nothing more than a tech that took a minor diet and got a buff.

Resources: http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/show.aspx?c=86885&slide=3



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Science and Math resources

These links will be good resources for self learning in sciences, and a good read for the new or advanced scientists (or geeks) alike.

The /sci/ guide

MIT has courses for free, however they don't really have a starting point, I will link them, however.

MIT open courses

Enjoy these!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

NASA Slated To Utilize New Xenon ION Engine

NASA blows away the traditional combustion and chemical engines of previous decades, and presents the new Xenon Ion Engine. Glowing with an electric blue jet of photons, the Xenon can change the way in which space-faring craft navigate. Ion engines allow a slow but steady and nearly non-depletable acceleration of a craft, without the need of extra tonnage to cargo along fuel, and the necessary compartments to contain said fuel. Initial thrust compared to chemical based engines is not as powerful, but in the long run, the Xenon's solar panel power absorption will allow craft to travel much further while using much less resource. As we all know, in space, the sun is always a force at large, and this means as long as the Xenon gets light from the Sun, it can keep going. Ideal for long range travel, the slow and controlled acceleration of a Xenon engine  means that course correction can be made quicker and more simple.
     As an example of the scenario in which it can be useful, imagine a satellite travelling to Jupiter. It must use small adjustments of its boosters ( which can and will run out of fuel) and its wings to correct its flight to the planet. There is little room for error, as the satellite is only equipped with just enough means to make it into the planetary orbit, but a side track, or major course issue can logistically render its destination impossible. However, if the same satellite, only utilizing a Xenon engine were to plot the same course, if it were to be knocked off course, blown aside, or find data that was worth side tracking for, it would not mean a total loss of investment: since it is equipped with a near inexhaustible source of self propulsion, the satellite may take more time for accurate readings, navigate to other entities along the way, and not be rendered a purposeless hunk of metal if its fuel reserves or electronics malfunction. As long as there was a way to control the Xenon engine from afar, the possibilities could be expansive. Now, I'm no expert on satellites or propulsion, but that's the beauty of this advancement: physics can be dismissive, but ideas and hypothesis can be endless.
   An early model of the Ion type engine has been utilized by NASA by its craft Dawn, on a voyage to a Dwarf planet named Ceres. NASA is weighing the possibility of utilizing the Ion engine once more on a mission to bring an steroid into near orbit of earth for study.
   Weigh your own thoughts about what the Xenon can bring to space travel, what can it mean for humans and an eventual colonization of a foreign planet?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The giant Magellan telescope

The largest telescope ever is being created in Chile, and its deadline is slated for 2020, roughly the time man should be on Mars. At 80 feet in diameter, it will be extremely powerful, and have one of the best locations on Earth, for a nice one-two punch of science. The GMT (Giant Magellan Telescope) will be located on a remote mountain top in the Andes, allowing for a minimal of light pollution. Deploying a special system of segmented mirrors, the GMT will be ten times more powerful than the Hubble telescope.

One of the reasons listed for the construction is just as exciting as the project itself: to help find life. Scientists seem very confident of finding life, and spending a very large amount of money on the telescope (700 million USD) shows utmost certainty and confidence in what they believe they will find. If they don't find that, than it will end up as one of the best tools we have to view space, and learn more about what is truly all around this.

Personally, I am very excited about this project. Taking a giant pair of binoculars, I am able to see all the craters on the moon, and stars in the sky that are blank to the naked eye. Now imagining this, and what it will see (think Hubble deep field and beyond) is a truly amazing and shocking thought. Hubble has an advantage, in that it has had years to go deep into space, but after a bit of usage the GMT will reveal what the Hubble cannot, and will not.

What are your thoughts? At 700 million dollars, not everyone is sure to agree, or maybe they would've liked to have seen something else funded.

Official site: http://www.gmto.org/index.html

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Elusive 'True' Color of The Moon

When we look up at the sky at night, when visible, we see the dull or light gray color of the Moon, darkened with rays and craters about its surface almost like deep oceans and trenches, and at night, we see a yellow tint washed over the surface. We all picture the moon in this way; rocky, bleak, gray/yellow, and rather blandly colored. We don't often ask why this is so; it's all rock anyway, right? So that's why it looks like that? Well, not really. Although it is true that the moon is dusty and rocky, we can't really say we've seen its 'true colors' often. An article found on "www.universetoday.com" titled 'Color of the Moon" describes why we see this as we do, because of light levels, and dispersion of appearance of colors from our atmosphere and telescopes. The truest colors of the Moon, the article explains, are the pictures taken from space of it. The article explains that the moon looks gray because of the various types of minerals on its surface, such as Plagioclase Feldspar, Pyroxene, Calcium, etc.: these make up the most commonly seen light grays and dark grays, and the surface is mainly composed of volcanic material. But there's more to be seen, such as the green Olivines, and hidden colors deep in the "dark" Lunar Marias that look like ocean. Pictured below is a 'true' color photo of the Moon, tweaked with photoshop programs to help bring out the real shades of color. Although it's almost a hobby to point and scream "FAKE!" when we hear the word 'photoshop', this is NOT a fake or made up photograph; photoshop is often used as a beneficial tool to help scientists see hidden details in space photos, this was simply made more vivid and evident through its use.
Incredible, isn't it? This is what you and I would see if we were able to perceive the waves of the light, unaltered by our atmosphere. As you can see, it is not a dull gray and bland surface by any means, but a colorful and vibrant landscape! Forgive my childish comparison, but to me it looks a lot like melted together skittles...and in a more relevant comparison, a lot like the beautiful "Peacock Ore" otherwise called "Bornite".
A video on YouTube describes one technique in which Jose Escamilla used photos of earths surface in black and white in contrast to those of the moon. Carefully and meticulously learning which dark shades make what color, he was able to decode the actual colors of the Moon. A video describing this in more detail can be found here of his documentary " Moon rising" here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUnzaTNFlJg Please find time to watch this, it is very interesting to learn the methods of colorization, as well as some thought provoking documentary on what may really lie ON the moon regarding other life and what has been obscured. There is simply too much about this topic to fully explain this to the reader, and so I encourage you to research this topic if you find the time to, and maybe have a new found appreciation of the Moon when you look up at it next.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Graphene- The worlds strongest material

Graphene is a super strong substance, and even in thin sheets can resist heavy weight and damage. Graphene is a form of carbon, which is very light and strong, and has the potential for many uses. So far, these are predicted uses:

  1. Cool electronics down, which increases life and efficiency of systems.
  2. Usage in solar panels and batteries.
  3. Lightweight, flexible display screens.
  4. Store energy.
  5. Aid in desalinization. 
  6. It can charge an electric car battery in less than a few hours, potentially cutting fossil fuel needs.
With so many uses, and such unique properties like thermal conduction, electrical conduction, and its extreme strength for size, these are probably just the beginnings of the uses for this "wonder material".

There is a bump on the road, however: Graphene has very sharp edges. This could make it dangerous to humans, as it easily pierces cells, and could  interrupt them. This idea is comparable to asbestos in the lungs, cutting and doing damage, and causing sickness. Scientists will have to find a way to  smooth the edges of the substance, or risk having it be labelled as toxic.

On a personal note, I would love to see this researched more. I imagine it being used in thin computer displays, maybe some sort of spacesuit armor, or even material for military and aerospace use on planes and spaceships. 
Time will tell how Graphene develops, but one thing is certain: If the kinks can be worked out, this material may change the world.


Firma- Another update

Just got off the phone with the Vancouver, Canada, based company. They were very friendly and helpful, being small and family owned so far. They are extending more into the United States, and are releasing  new  items soon, such as a long-sleeved tee shirt. I am going to try this out sometime, using it for workout and regular wear. Being some of the most hi-tech garments available, the expectations are high. I feel these will be met, and the representative on the phone had many good things to say about testimonials people have given.

On a note, also- they are not meant to be worn 24/7, every day, as it does move electrolytes and such, so choosing to wear it at day, or at night, is best.