Tracking Movement with Human Smartphone App
Using data collected from the Human smartphone app, major urban centers such as London, New York and Amsterdam have been drawn with pixels created by its users’ movements. The resulting imagery shows the unique energetic patterns created over time according to different types of motion: walking, cycling, running, and motorized transportation. The iPhone app was originally designed to encourage users to undertake at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, but the live maps it has created reveal how a ‘simple’ consumer app can lead to insights on a larger scale, from a population’s physical health to tools for urban planning.
Second Life: The Heineken WOBO Doubles as Beer Bottle and Brick
Fifty years ago, Heineken developed a revolutionary and sustainable design solution to give its beer bottles a second life: as an architectural brick. The concept arose after brewing magnate Alfred Heineken visited Curacao during a world tour of his factories in 1960. He was struck by the amount of beer bottles—many bearing his name—littering the beaches and the lack of affordable building materials for residents. In a stroke of genius (or madness), Heineken realized both problems could be solved if beer bottles could be reused as structural building components. Enlisting the help of Dutch architect N. John Habraken, Heineken created a new bottled design—dubbed the Heineken WOBO (World Bottle)—that doubled as a drinking vessel and a brick. As author and architecture critic Martin Pawley notes, the WOBO was “the first mass production container ever designed from the outset for secondary use as a building component.” The new squared off bottle was both inter-locking and self-aligning, allowing it to nestle seamlessly and snugly into adjoining “bricks.” With Habraken’s design, a 10 by 10 foot hut could be constructed with 1,000 WOBO bottles. Though a test run of 100,000 bottles was produced in 1963, the marketing department’s worries about liabilities doomed the project. The WOBO was subsequently and unceremoniously retired. Though only two official WOBO buildings remain, both on the Heineken estate in Noordwijk near Amsterdam, the concept remains a powerful and inspiring one. Indeed, the experiment is a reminder of how a major corporation might seriously take on sustainability in an innovative way.
NASA Tests 3-D Printed Engine Components
3-D printing isn’t just for toys and plastic models of your head. Witness a hot fire of NASA’s newest design for rocket engine injectors, 3-D printed to up performance in a way that traditional manufacturing of the parts couldn’t attain.
The agency, which tested the experimental injectors last month at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., used a type of 3-D printing called direct laser melting. To make the parts, a machine fires a laser at metal powder under the direction of a computer design program. This deposits layers of the metal one on top of the other until the part is complete.
NASA says the technique is letting engineers build the injector out of just two parts instead of the 163 formerly needed using traditional manufacturing methods.
Rotifers are tiny multicellular organisms found commonly in freshwater environments around the world. They are largely considered to be the smallest animals on Earth, composed of over 1,000 cells complete with a full digestive system and jaws but only reaching the size of a microscopic amoeba. They can be found in the most extreme environments, including the Mojave Desert where they enter dormancy when their habitats dry up. Scientists in Antarctica have recently discovered single cell organisms existing deep below ice sheets, but they’re looking even harden to see if more complex creatures like rotifers have been able to survive without sunlight in sub-zero temperatures for nearly a million years.
Image by Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus.
"As Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them. They belong in libraries, just as libraries have already become places you can go to get access to ebooks, and audiobooks and DVDs and web content. A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it."
Conscious Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans Using Non-Invasive Technologies
In short, understandable words: Scientists have successfully transported words from one brain to another over the internet.
Human sensory and motor systems provide the natural means for the exchange of information between individuals, and, hence, the basis for human civilization. The recent development of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) has provided an important element for the creation of brain-to-brain communication systems, and precise brain stimulation techniques are now available for the realization of non-invasive computer-brain interfaces (CBI). These technologies, BCI and CBI, can be combined to realize the vision of non-invasive, computer-mediated brain-to-brain (B2B) communication between subjects (hyperinteraction). Here we demonstrate the conscious transmission of information between human brains through the intact scalp and without intervention of motor or peripheral sensory systems. Pseudo-random binary streams encoding words were transmitted between the minds of emitter and receiver subjects separated by great distances, representing the realization of the first human brain-to-brain interface. In a series of experiments, we established internet-mediated B2B communication by combining a BCI based on voluntary motor imagery-controlled electroencephalographic (EEG) changes with a CBI inducing the conscious perception of phosphenes (light flashes) through neuronavigated, robotized transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), with special care taken to block sensory (tactile, visual or auditory) cues. Our results provide a critical proof-of-principle demonstration for the development of conscious B2B communication technologies. More fully developed, related implementations will open new research venues in cognitive, social and clinical neuroscience and the scientific study of consciousness. We envision that hyperinteraction technologies will eventually have a profound impact on the social structure of our civilization and raise important ethical issues.
[paper] [via @GF2045]