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8 Jul

Your Car Could Soon Run on Green Fuel -- Literally

As gas prices rise, your thoughts may begin to turn to alternate fuel sources that are less costly to both your wallet and the environment.

Introducing, algae fuel.

Tonight on World's Strangest, take a closer look at this green energy source that could change the way we get around.

Algae "could potentially produce up to 60 times more oil per acre than land-based plants," according to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, meaning we'd get a lot more bang for our buck (i.e., get more oil from a smaller space).

Here's how it works:

World's Strangest airs TONIGHT at 8/7c on Science Channel

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11 Jun

Could Cyberterrorism Collapse a Superpower?

Here's a question: "What's the bigger threat: squirrels or cyberterrorism?"

This Vox headline may be tongue-in-cheek -- it refers to the number of power outages in the United States caused by squirrels -- but from stories about the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) using Oculus Rift to wage cyberwar to claims China committed cyber crime against the U.S., cyberterrorism is one of the most important issues facing America today.

Tonight's episode of Through the Wormhole (10/9c on Science Channel) takes an in-depth look at technology and how it could be used for nefarious means.

For instance, what if implantable medical devices could be hacked and used for evil?

Or, could time be turned against us?

Does technology make us more or less safe? Let us know what you think.

Through the Wormhole airs at 10/9c on Science Channel. See the full schedule here.

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10 Jun

We May Be Closer Than Ever to Teleportation and a Quantum Internet

We don't have a Star Trek transporter just yet but a recent New York Times headline -- "Scientists Report Finding Reliable Way to Teleport Data" -- indicates that we could be heading that way in the future.

While teleportation on TV transports atoms from one place to another, scientists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience Delft in the Netherlands were able to "transfer information about the state of an atom or particle from one place to another without that information moving in between," the Times explains.

[Read the full paper in the journal Science here.]

"What we are teleporting is the state of a particle," Professor Ronald Hanson, who led the research, said. "If you believe we are nothing more than a collection of atoms strung together in a particular way, then in principle it should be possible to teleport ourselves from one place to another." 

Could this scientific breakthrough lead to the development of a quantum internet?

Well, yes, says a press release about the research: "This development is an important step towards a quantum network for communication between future ultra-fast quantum computers -– a quantum internet."

Get ready for super-fast internet... and who knows, maybe human teleportation one day too.

On tonight's Alien Encounters at 10/9c, Brids (human children with alien DNA) connected to a powerful quantum supercomputer that is becoming self-aware. Will it be used for good -- or evil?

If you're not watching Alien Encounters, which combines dramatized action with real-life science, here's what you've been missing:

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15 May

You Could Be Driving/Flying An Aero-X Hoverbike By 2017

Product_topStart saving your pennies and invest in a solid helmet: the Aero-X hoverbike is slated to hit the market by 2017.

The $85,000 bike-meets-hovercraft flies up to 10 feet off the ground and reaches speeds up to 45 miles per hour. According to maker Aerofex, "It’s a hovercraft that rides like a motorcycle - an off road vehicle that gets you off the ground."

Running on the same gasoline that fuels your car, the Aero-X can carry two riders with a combined weight of 310 pounds, according to its website. Whole vehicle airbags, it should be noted, are optional, though an FAQ claims the craft "is safe for its intended purposes."

Earlier this month, we told you about a new flying car, the TF-X, which claims to be "statistically safer than driving a modern automobile."

Tonight on How It's Made at 9/8c, you can learn how household objects much more common than hovercrafts and flying cars are made. Wondering how dream cars are made? Check it out:

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Image: Aerofex

8 May

Flying Cars Move From Science Fiction to Present-Day Possibility

Tfx v03 farmland-WMMore than 50 years after "The Jetsons" brought flying cars into living rooms across America, the sci-fi fantasy transportation may be closer than ever to becoming reality.

Terrafugia, a Massachusetts-based company, has a mission "to combine driving and flying in a new and practical way." Its MIT-trained team has developed a car-plane hybrid called the TF-X, and it could completely change the automotive game.

"Don't think of it as a car that flies," Terrafugia CEO, CTO and co-founder Carl Dietrich told The Detroit Bureau. "Think of it as a plane that drives."

The TF-X concept is a four-seat hybrid car with wings; the promo video promises, "Just tell it where you want to go. It flies for you." Terrafugia claims the vehicle will be "statistically safer than driving a modern automobile."

With speeds up to 200 miles per hour, the TF-X has a range of 500 miles but requires as few as five hours of training -- and an owner won't even need to convert his or her driveway into a runway.

Take a look:

It wasn't so long ago that driverless cars were the hot new technology but compared to flying cars, they seem almost unremarkable now...

Would you test drive a flying car? Let us know!

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1 May

Soon, Your Child Can Print His Own Teddy Bears (Thanks, Disney)

Tired of driving to the toy store each time your baby wants a new stuffed animal? Bored with browsing the Internet for teddy bears that will appease the most discerning toddler?

Soon you may be able to print your own soft toys at home.

Disney Research's new 3D printer "can turn wool and wool blend yarns into fabric objects that people might actually enjoy touching." [PDF]

In a 30-second trailer, Disney demonstrates a technique so simple that even a baby can do it:

Disney Research collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University on the technology, which "extends 3D printing from typically hard and precise forms into a new set of forms which embody a different aesthetic of soft and imprecise objects, and provides a new capability for researchers to explore the use of this class of materials in interactive devices."

"I really see this material being used for things that are held close," Professor Scott Hudson, who helped develop the printer, said in a statement. "We’re really extending the set of materials available for 3D printing and opening up new possibilities for what can be manufactured."

Will printing stuffed animals at home become mainstream? We'll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, other innovations in 3D printing are on the horizon, including one concept for printing houses on Mars.

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24 Apr

President Obama Plays Soccer With Human-Like Robot, Finds It "A Little Scary"

Meet_ASIMOKnown more for his basketball skills than soccer dribbling ability, President Obama made time to kick around a soccer ball with Honda-designed ASIMO, "the world's most advanced humanoid robot," while in Japan during a week-long tour of Asia.

The human-like robot stands 51 inches tall and is powered by a 51.8-volt lithium ion battery that can last for up to one hour on a single charge.

"I can kick a soccer ball too," the robot told Obama, prompting the president to respond, "Okay, come on" and set the game into action.

It took ASIMO a few moments to prepare to punt the ball, leading Obama to joke, "If it hits me in the nose, it'll be terrible."

After a successful kick, ASIMO (described by The Washington Post as "a diminutive Star Wars storm trooper") basked in the glare of the international spotlight by jumping on one foot in front of the crowd.

Obama later told students “the robots were a little scary. They were too lifelike.”

Humanoid robots are becoming more lifelike on each iteration, from NASA's Valkyrie robot to Atlas, the Pentagon's "robo sapien."

With advancements in robotics happening all the time, here's a peek at what the future could hold:

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Image via Honda

11 Apr

Land Rover Basically Just Introduced An Invisible Car

Invisible cars aren't just for science fiction movies anymore.

Land Rover's new "Transparent Bonnet" (American translation: car hood) makes the front of the car practically invisible.

Here's how it works, according to the auto maker:

"Cameras located in the vehicle's grille capture data used to feed a Head-Up Display, effectively creating a 'see-through' view of the terrain through the bonnet and engine bay, breaking new ground in visual driver assistance."

We feel compelled to point out that the vehicle is not actually invisible; it just appears that way to the car's driver: "The technology enables a driver climbing a steep incline or manoeuvring in a confined space to see an augmented reality view capturing not only the terrain in front of the car but also the angle and position of the front wheels."

The concept will be introduced at next week's New York International Auto Show but before you get too excited about driving an invisible vehicle, Slate notes that "it's unclear when or even if Land Rover plans to usher the Bonnet out of the concept stage and onto the road."

Watch a demonstration of the technology at work:

Driving an invisible car is neat but you know what's really cool? Extreme vertical driving. Take a sneak peek at this clip from Saturday night's Outrageous Acts of Science, premiering at 10/9c:

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31 Mar

Glow-In-The-Dark Trees Could Replace Street Lights One Day

In the not-so-distant future, your evening walk could be lit by gently glowing trees rather than standard street lights.

At least, that was the concept presented by Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde at the South by Southwest festival this year.

Roosegaarde took examples from biomimicry -- "What can we learn from nature?" -- to develop his innovative idea: creating bioluminescent plants.

"When you have a jellyfish deep, deep underwater it creates its own light," Roosegaarde explains in the video. "It does not have a battery or a solar panel or an energy bill. It does it completely autonomously. what can we learn from that?"

"I mean, come on, that will be incredibly fascinating to have these energy-neutral but at the same time these very poetic landscapes," Roosegaarde says in the video.

Dezeen explains that Roosegaarde and collaborator Alexander Krichevsky create the glow-in-the-dark plants "by splicing DNA from luminescent marine bacteria to the chloroplast genome of a common houseplant, so the stem and leaves emit a faint light similar to that produced by fireflies and jellyfish."

(The New York Times notes that some environmental groups have denounced the project for "fear that malicious organisms may be created, either intentionally or by accident.")

If you're thinking Avatar, you're not alone but we want to know:

What do you think of this eco-friendly light source?

Almost as cool as a glowing tree: riding a bioluminescent wave. Check it out:

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h/t The Huffington Post

27 Mar

Toyota i-Road Is Super Compact And Super Cute: Is This The Car Of The Future?

If you've ever dreamed of driving a tricycle-motorcycle-Smart car hybrid, here's your chance.

Toyota first unveiled its i-Road concept vehicle at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show and beginning this week, drivers in Japan are testing the car on the streets of Tokyo.

Here's a look at the three-wheeled electric vehicle in action:

Available in five colors, the i-Road weighs just over 600 pounds, measures under three feet wide and can travel about 31 miles on a single charge.


Toyota describes the i-Road as "combining the convenience of a motorcycle with the comfort and stability of a car" and we have to admit that the super-compact car looks stylish gliding through the streets of a charming European town.


The i-Road "is likely to become a serious mass market alternative to the motorcycle," claims Gizmag, although Car and Driver cautions the car could have "far more success in Europe and Japan than here, though, if it ever were to go into production, thanks to the variously tight parking conditions, congested urban centers, and strict emissions regulations."

Earlier this week, we saw the spacesuit of the future. Could the i-Road be the car of the future?

Would you drive an i-Road?

Love cars? Watch how dream cars go from factory to showroom floor:

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Photos via Toyota

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