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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

27 Feb

This Car Runs On Air And Could Get An Astonishing 117 Miles Per Gallon

French carmaker Peugeot just raised the bar when it comes to manufacturing an eco-friendly automobile as it introduced its new Hybrid Air engine system, which combines gasoline with compressed air and could run solely on air power up to 80 percent of drive time.


By 2020, the cars could get an astounding 117 miles per gallon. PSA Peugeot Citroën filed 80 patents in connection with the innovative technology, which was developed in partnership with the French government.


By next year, the Hybrid Air will be installed onto some already existing models like the Citroën C3 and Peugeot 208, reducing their carbon dioxide emissions to as little as 69 grams per kilometer. That's well below new European Union guidelines mandating nearly all new cars sold in the EU emit no more than 95 g/km of CO2 on average by 2021.


Here's how it works, according to PSA Peugeot Citroën:

"An innovative combination of tried and tested technologies: a petrol engine, a unit to store energy in the form of compressed air, a hydraulic motor-pump assembly and an automatic transmission working with an epicyclic gear train... The smart control system adapts the operating mode to the driver's commands and optimises energy efficiency in three different modes: ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle), petrol internal combustion and combined."


Cars running on the new Hybrid Air system will cost about £1,000 ($1664) less than current hybrid models, according to the Daily Mail.

Want to learn more about "super hybrid" cars? Check this out:

Would you buy a car with the new Hybrid Air engine system?

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Photos via PSA Peugeot Citroën

21 Feb

The World's First Supersonic Business Jet Will Replace Windows With Electronic Screens, Because Rich People

High rollers, this one's for you.

Introducing the Spike S-512 Supersonic Jet, a luxury new travel vehicle that will, according to a press release from Spike Aerospace, get passengers to their destinations in half the time it currently takes by breaking the sound barrier.

Besides being a totally baller way for you and up to 18 of your closest friends to get around, the jet will feature a windowless cabin to get rid of glare and the hassle of dealing with shades.

The sign of true wealth: being able to change the panoramic images displayed on the electronic walls of your personal aircraft.


Spike Aerospace claims it "can eliminate the structural issues with windows and reduce the aircraft weight," and that "the very smooth exterior skin will reduce the drag normally caused by having windows."

Personally I like to look out the windows when I fly but what do I know as a mere worker bee?


Ready to reserve your jet? Unfortunately that section of the website is still under construction but the jet is slated to cost $80 million and be available in December 2018.


If you do spring for a supersonic jet, don't try this trick in your new ride:

If money were no object, would you buy the Spike S-512 Supersonic Jet?

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Images via Spike Aerospace

18 Feb

The Future Is Here: Man Gets Prosthetic Hand That Can Feel

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 12.03.56 PMIt may seem like something out of science fiction but nine years after a man in Denmark lost his left hand in a fireworks accident, he has received a prosthetic hand that allows him to feel objects.

Dennis Aabo Sørensen received the bionic hand in an experimental procedure in Rome. Electrodes were inserted into Sørensen's arm and connected to sensors in the hand; the "sense of touch was achieved by sending the electrical current through the electrodes attached to the nerves in Sørensen's arms," USA Today explained.

The result: a real-time sense of touch.

"Even when he was blindfolded and wearing ear plugs, Sorensen could tell the difference between a Mandarin orange and a baseball, between a short bottle and a tall bottle and even between a hard wooden block and a piece of soft fabric."

"I could feel things that I hadn’t been able to feel in over nine years," Sørensen told The Independent.

The successful prosthesis is a step in the right direction for those who have lost limbs, although it could be years until this procedure becomes more common.

Read the full article announcing the results in Science Translational Medicine.

This season on Futurescape, a paralyzed man demonstrated an Iron Man-like exoskeleton that helped him regain the ability to walk.

Prepare to be inspired:

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Photo: YouTube screenshot via LifeHand 2

13 Feb

Google Street View Uses Dogsleds, Snowmobiles To Map The Arctic

It may be cold and snowy where you live now (we're buried under more than a foot of snow at Science Channel HQ) but up in the Arctic, snow covers the ground for up to nine months a year. In Nunavut, Canada's northernmost territory, some towns experience below freezing temperatures eight months of the year.

How, then, does Google create street-by-street maps of the terrain?

Enter Google Trekker.

It took four days to map one northern Canadian town on foot, snowmobile and dogsled; as mapping expert Christopher Kalluk, a resident of Canada's Nunavut territory, explains in the video, "I wanted to invite people to the Arctic I want people to know that we exist up here and I wanted to be able to show people down south what it is like up here."

It works. The resulting maps put viewers right in the middle of the scene.

"I like to think of it as our chance to give you the lead sled dog’s view," Kalluk writes on Google's Lat Long blog.

Whether you're snowed in or enjoying the sunshine (hello, San Diego), take a few minutes to explore the Arctic today.

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11 Feb

Thomas Edison Invented Concrete Furniture, The One Thing We're Not Celebrating On His 167th Birthday

FB-happy-birthday-edison-500x500.jpgOn this date in 1847, one of America's most prolific and enterprising inventors and entrepreneurs was born in Milan, Ohio. By the time he died on October 18, 1931 at age 84, Thomas Edison had given the world some of its most prized technologies.

Among the inventions with which Thomas Edison is credited:

Edison also envisioned a world filled with all-concrete houses and concrete furniture, proving that even "The Wizard of Menlo Park" could have some misses along with his plentiful hits.

Some detractors argue Edison was less of an inventor and more of a modifier on existing ideas. Whatever the case, he was certainly a brilliant businessman whose legacy lives on just a powerfully today as the day he died.

Over on SCI2, we've found a video that sums up of the long life of Thomas Edison in just 3 minutes. Take a look and let us know what you think: Was Thomas Edison a genius inventor or just a shrewd capitalist?

One of Edison's lesser-known projects: the electric chair. Learn more:

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29 Jan

South Korea Is Building A Robot Theme Park And It Looks Awesome

Anyang, Robot Land! 2

The government of South Korea is reportedly renewing efforts to build the world's first robot theme park; scheduled to open in 2016, Robot Land will be located in Incheon, just west of Seoul.

Among its high-tech traits are a robot laboratory, a robot game arena and a robot aquarium. There will also be a water park and roller coasters because, let's face it, we all love those things.5

The park broke ground in December 2013, IEEE Spectrum reports, with an estimated development cost of 670.4 billion Korean won ($626.5 million USD).

It appears the design is evolving -- compare a 2007 mockup, above, with the 2009 design to the left. We have to admit: this all looks pretty incredible.

Check out this promo video and tell us what you think: Would you travel to South Korea to visit Robot Land?

Robot Land's grand opening may be a few years away but this blogger is putting her vote in for a very special episode of Strip the City once the park opens its doors. The new season of Strip the City premieres TONIGHT on the Science Channel, with new episodes every Wednesday night at 10/9c. How cool would it be for the Strip the City team to go beneath the world's first robot city?!

In the premiere episode, the team explores the hidden underground world of New York City. Here's a sneak peek at how engineers are storm-proofing NYC's subway system:

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Photos via Robot Land

2 Aug

A Flying Bicycle?

Flying-bicycle-250x150Remember the famous flying bike scene in the classic 1982 flick E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? Well, pretty soon, if two British inventors have their way, you'll be able to soar into the clouds on a bicycle, without even having a cute little alien in your basket.

Yannick Read and John Foden are soliciting 50,000 British Pounds--about $77,000--on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site, to finish the testing and design of the XploreAir Paravelo, which they describe as "a conventional two-wheeled bike that transforms into an easy-to-operate aircraft." According to an account in the British Guardian newspaper, It can can attain altitudes of up to 4,000 feet and an airborne speed of about 25 miles per hour.

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