Invisibility cloak from TED2013

This is a far cry from a true invisibility cloak, but what assistant professor Baile Zhang showed off at TED2013 in Long Beach recently is one big step closer to that ideal.  Check out the video for a quick demo.  It’s made from two pieces of optical crystals (calcite) cemented together.  Lots of questions remain about this (such as how close the object needs to be to be ‘hidden’…but it’s pretty cool nonetheless.

A physical mechanism linking extreme weather with climate change

Scientists have identified exactly how it is that climate change may increase the likelihood of extreme weather events around the globe.  You can read the full details here, but the gist of it is that there are normally what is, in essence, atmospheric ‘waves’ oscillating between the artic and tropic regions, which help mix things up.  During recent extreme weather events, those waves were more or less frozen in place, something which climate change may make more likely as the planet is not heating uniformly (the poles heat more than the tropical areas, hence there’s less temperature different between them to drive the oscillations).

Getting Things Done (GTD)

I’ve always been a big fan of David Allen’s Getting Things Done strategies, and even though I don’t fully implement the system, I still feel it’s a massive benefit to my life (I’m working on fully implementing it, it’s just tough to get into that routine).  If you haven’t heard of it, take two minutes to watch the video below…it does a great job of summarizing what this is all about.

Graphene supercapacitors to replace batteries?

There’s a lot of exciting work being done in battery technology…yet your future electronic devices may end up being powered by a supercapacitor instead if research into this area pays off.  Environmentally, it’s pretty awesome…graphene is of course carbon, which is plentiful and non-toxic (potentially, you could even throw a used graphene supercapacitor into your compost bin!).  These supercapacitors can store a lot of energy and be recharged extremely quickly (like 100-1000 times faster than a battery).  It’ll be interesting to see which wins out here…advanced battery technologies, or supercapcitors?  Stay tuned to Peak Geek for all the latest on that, and in the meantime, check out the video below describing these graphene supercapacitors (I love that word, especially as they didn’t mention ‘nano’ anything).

Transparent (sort of) bicycle

clarity-bike-design-affairs1-537x375By using a special type of plastic, designers at Designaffairs Studio made a bicycle with a transparent frame.  It’s perfect for the cyclist who worries that they stand out too much in traffic and want to just be less visible.  Yes, that’s a joke.  I mean really, aren’t cyclists usually going out of their way to be MORE visible?  Like the ‘light up like a Christmas tree’ bike light system I wrote about here previously.

The one way I could see this transparent frame being of any benefit whatsoever is if you pack it full of bright LEDs, so you have a glowing frame.  It wouldn’t help much during the day, but at night, no one is going to miss you!

A retinal implant to restore sight

the-alpha-ims-subretinal-implant-300x247Right off the bat, realize that this isn’t about restoring 20/20 vision to blind people…but rather, helping those who lost their sight due to medical conditions (in this case, retinitis pigmentosa) restore partial vision.  It’s amazing technology…a retinal implant uses a 1500 pixel sensor to receive light through the eye, and transfers it (via electrical signals) to the nerves in the eye for processing by the brain.  This gives these people a very rudimentary level of vision, but adequate enough to detect the objects around them, make out the horizon, houses, trees, rivers, cars.  Close up, they can even tell if someone is smiling or wearing glasses.  Pretty amazing tech.

(via SmartPlanet)

Lithium battery technology advancements

Researchers at USC have made some progress in improving lithium ion batteries, with tests suggesting a three-fold increase in energy storage and fast recharge times.  Their technology is…well..honestly, the description had too many ‘nano’ items in it and that made me a bit skeptical…it’s a bit of a media buzzword that I grow wary of.  But, well, here goes.  They used nanoparticles, nanospheres, nanowires, and nanotubes (naturally).  Yeah.  Well, if you want to juicy technological details of how they did it, follow this link.  The most important thing to realize is that this is just one of many efforts being made to improve battery technology…and there are a LOT of competing teams of scientists and engineers getting really close to bringing this to your home.  Expect vastly improved batteries in a matter of just a few years (if that).

World’s fastest electric boat

mercedes-amg-cigarette-racing-team-38-foot-electric-go-fast-boat-14Now this is cool…a 100+mph electric powered speedboat!  It features twelve electric motors (six per prop) and a 240kWh lithium-ion battery pack.  That pack is wired to produce 400V, and can provide a mind blowing 6000A!  But then, a boat like this is built for marketing purposes primarily, speed secondary, and range, well, range isn’t really a consideration for these vehicles yet.  At full speed, you get about ten minutes run time.  🙁

(via gizmag)

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