Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Clothing and Protons and Cyborgs, Oh My!

Clothes grown by bacteria*. I haven't looked into the actual science behind this, but it's a very cool concept: use bacteria to create a material that can be used as fabric. It's sustainable, it can probably be done at home, and the clothes are almost certainly biodegradable. They're a little see-through, but whatever. Layering will fix that. (And they said we'd be wearing paper in the future. Ha!)

Invisible computer mouse. Not, sadly, a piece of invisible plastic with electronics inside, but nearly as good. Apparently, if you hook up a laser and an infrared video camera, you can use hand motions to manipulate a cursor. This makes me wonder if we could think outside the box a little, and code crazy functions to the lesser-used fingers. For instance, tapping with the pinky could change screen resolution and the thumb could scroll through a document. (Also, the inventors' explanatory video uses Tom and Jerry footage, which makes this announcement about twice as awesome.)

Acoustic fibers.** Clothing that functions like a microphone-speaker? Why the heck not? I think the article says it best: "In addition to wearable microphones and biological sensors, applications of the fibers could include loose nets that monitor the flow of water in the ocean and large-area sonar imaging systems with much higher resolutions: A fabric woven from acoustic fibers would provide the equivalent of millions of tiny acoustic sensors." Or we could plug our iPods into our pocket and use our jackets like boom boxes.

Best cyborg arm yet***. It has joints, independent finger motions, and excellent dexterity. It is sensitive enough to mimic touch. It's also controlled by the brain. This has, of course, gotten a DARPA contract, so the Terminators probably aren't far behind.

Throwing off quantum mechanics, in one simple step. So the proton is apparently smaller than we thought, meaning that there is a) something massively off about current quantum theory, b) another subatomic particle we haven't discovered, c) both a and b, or d) something wrong with the experiment that got these results. Being a geek, I'm voting c.

Travel through time, without killing Grandpa. The closer you get to creating a paradox, the more likely it will be that something highly improbable will happen to prevent you. There is a valid scientific experiment behind this, so it's not just talk. Does make me wonder if H2G2's Heart of Gold ever stopped a paradox, though. Possibly by turning someone into a penguin.

*via BoingBoing
** also via BoingBoing
*** io9, this time

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