”We used the camera to capture full spherical panoramas at scenic spots, in a crowded city square and in the middle of a group of people taking turns in throwing the camera. Above all we found that it is a very enjoyable, playful way to take pictures.”
(The device)… consists of a thin sheet of resin–fiberglass composite, just a few centimeters across, segmented into 32 triangular panels separated by flexible silicone joints. Some of the joints have heat-sensitive actuators that bend 180 degrees when warmed by an electric current, folding the sheet over at that joint. Depending on the program used, the sheet will conduct a series of folds to yield the boat or airplane shape in about 15 seconds. The folding-sheet approach is an extension of the field of computational origami, the mathematical study of how flat objects can be folded into complex, three-dimensional structures.
Landing on Mars in May of 2008, the NASA Mars Phoenix Lander worked remarkably well until November of the same year. It sent back hundreds of images and did soil testing that found calcium carbonate and perchlorate. The mission was only supposed to last for three months but like other NASA missions the service life of the lander exceeded expectations and only ended when the winter sun could no longer charge the probes batteries. When the Martian winter had passe it was hoped that the lander might have survived the deadly cold (-87C) and contact could once again be established. However it was not to be. The lander was no longer responding to commands issued from NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter as it did a number of passes over the landing site in multiple listening campaigns. Eventually an image was obtained from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter the that confirmed the speculation that an estimated 100 pounds of icy buildup has damaged the delicate solar panels.
Phoenix Mars Lander is Silent, New Image Shows Damage.
Ah, the Marx generator. I have fond and not so fond memories of building my first one. It worked very well, I knew this because of the sort of out of body feeling I had when I got zapped by it. Anyway, it works by charging up a bank of capacitors in parallel and then are discharged in series. It will turn a few wimpy volts into something that will quite literally take your breath away. This site has a nice semi tutorial on how one is built. Go have a read and start scrounging in your junk box for some parts (mind you, keep a hand in your pocket to avoid making a dead short across your chest and through your heart. It’s not a sure thing but it helps)
I went to the bi-monthly hackerspace meeting last night. They had a guy there giving a talk about an open source 3D printer that he and his company is working on. I posted photos of it on Flickr. The thing is called ‘Cube.ly‘ and will, once finished, print 10cc of volume per hour, cost under $1000, takes a weekend to build, and is made of off the shelf parts. The frame is made of this stuff called ‘80/20′, think adult sized Erector set and the other bits like motors are available from McMaster-Carr or the guys that build the Makerbot (electronics).
We live in amazing times.
…If Microsoft founder Bill Gates unleashes more mosquitoes at this year’s Technology, Entertainment and Design conference, Nathan Myhrvold will be ready for him. Myhrvold demonstrated a “Death Star” laser gun designed to track and kill mosquitoes in flight. The device was crafted from parts purchased on eBay by scientists at Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures Laboratory. As Myhrvold explained, a child dies every 43 seconds from malaria. Current methods for eradicating the disease aren’t working very well. There’s no viable vaccine yet, and although mosquito nets work, people don’t always use them. When given free nets by public health organizations, many people in the developing world use the nets for fishing instead. So until the time comes when malaria can be controlled, Intellectual Ventures thought it might be a good idea to try to control mosquitoes. Myhrvold’s team demonstrated the system onstage using a green laser light rather than a real laser for safety reasons. They let loose mosquitoes in a glass box rigged with a camera on one side of the stage, then pointed the laser device at the box. The laser lights quickly located the mosquitoes in flight. After the live demo, Myhrvold showed a video depicting mosquitoes being zapped for real in flight. They’re currently examining how cost effective it would be to deploy the device in places like Africa.