In a piece headlined "Rube Goldberg meets Aquaman" a few weeks ago, we wrote of something called PowerSwim--a contraption developed by DARPA that would allow Navy SEALs and others to swim 150 percent faster and with less effort than they would with regular fins. In describing it, we had to rely on an illustration done by Popular Mechanics. Apparently PM never saw the thing either, because it looks nothing like that picture. Here, thanks to the understanding and generous folks at DARPA, is the real deal: The photo's a little muddy but, after all, it's under … Read more
I can't stand power bricks. Today, I was trying to organize wires in my home and did my best to trace wires from the outlet to the device. More often than not, I would come to a power brick that should have told me which device it belongs to. Instead, it said something like "Asian Power Devices" followed by a slew of alphanumeric symbols that mean nothing.
Am I the only person who can't stand power bricks? Why can't each and every one of them have some reference to the device they belong to?
Consider … Read more
GreenVolts, which is commercializing technology from the national labs to better concentrate sunlight, has received $10 million in funding.
The company, based out of San Francisco, has a concentrating system for photovoltaic panels that effectively lets its put the power of 625 suns onto a solar panel. The high concentration levels thus allow it to shrink the real estate required for a single power plant. As a result, the power plants can be built closer to the consumers--i.e. people living in the city or suburbs--which in turn cuts down the cost of transmission lines.
Several other companies are working … Read more
After attempts to "crowdsource" the purchase of a soccer club, it was obviously just a matter of time until the concept of crowdsourcing--the act of outsourcing a job or task to a group of people--would be applied to the actual game.
The Israeli team Hapoel Play65 Kiryat Shalom, a shared project of the online backgammon room Play65 and the Israeli social network for sports fans Web2sport, prides itself on being the first Web 2.0 soccer club in the world.
The club has begun experimenting with a wisdom-of-the-fans approach that allows the team's supporters to monitor … Read more
For all the talk about solar-powered phones this year, there still aren't any that have taken the mass market by storm, or even a light breeze. Until one does come along, we'll be stuck with alternative solutions to harness the sun's rays for endless yakfests. But that doesn't mean we have to resort to carrying a purse to keep our batteries charged, so to speak.
As a back-pocket backup, the Elph series is well respected and widely enjoyed. Canon left off the manual controls on this snapshooters' favorite, but for what it is, it's a sound product and a great deal. It started out on the market earlier this year at $220 or higher, and sellers are starting to lower the price. On Thursday, Amazon's winning the race to the bottom, especially since in most cases they offer free shipping for this item.
According to CNET Reviews, the SD1000 Elph offers unusually good image quality, "solid build quality, speedy performance, an optical … Read more
If you run the dryer in the daytime and live in California, expect to pay for the privilege in the future.
Peter Darbee, CEO Pacific Gas & Electric, said the utility is currently running a smart meter trial at 25,000 homes and one of the goals is to figure out how to price peak power. Electricity demand is highest in the afternoon and PG&E is trying to figure out much the utility will have to charge for the power to curb demand. By curbing demand, PG&E can cut back on greenhouse gas emissions and, possibly, … Read more
You can make solar panels with impure silicon, claims Roy Johnson. You just have to know how to isolate the undesirables.
CaliSolar, a solar start-up that derives from research originally conducted at UC Berkeley, has come up with a way to make solar cells out of upgraded metallurgical silicon, which is less pure and less costly than the industry standard electrical grade silicon, according to Johnson, the company's CEO, at a meeting at the Dow Jones Alternative Energy Innovations conference taking place this week.
Electrical grade silicon is 99.99999 plus percent pure, but it costs $150 to $250 … Read more
A lot of wave and tidal power systems being proposed these days will be capable of generating megawatts of power.
Puget Sound Tidal Power is aiming for 10 to 15 kilowatts with its turbine--barely enough for five homes--but the lower power output also means a lower price tag, according to company President Burton Hamner. The total cost of a single turbine from Puget Sound in mass manufacturing will come to around $10,000 or so, he said. The budget on larger turbines often runs into the millions of dollars.
"We think you could get payback in five to eight … Read more
WASHINGTON--A dispute that could affect the roll-out of broadband over power lines, which some hope will one day compete with cable and DSL services, went before a federal appeals court on Tuesday, but no immediate resolution occurred.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard arguments from attorneys for the Federal Communications Commission and the American Radio Relay League, which represents amateur radio operators, about FCC rules aimed at allowing BPL services to flourish.