A reader writes, "A couple years ago MIT changed their dorm security/student tracking policy. They hired security contractors to work in dorms and required everyone to tap their RFID cards upon entry (no vouching for friends/guests). Most students complied. Some moved out. Some got in trouble ;)" Read the rest
If you're not already wearing a tinfoil hat, it may be a good time to start: a pair of engineers based out of the University of Michigan have figured out a way to create a light-powered camera sensor that's only a millimeter in size: small enough to be practically invisible to a casual observer.
According to a paper published in IEEE Electron Device Letters by Euisik Yoon and Sung-Yun Park, the new camera has the potential to not only be insanely small, but also, self sustaining, thanks to a solar panel placed directly behind the camera's image sensor, which is thin enough that light, in addition to what's needed to create an image, is able to pass right through it. This could provide the camera with all the power it needs to be able to continue to capture images, indefinitely. At a maximum of 15 frames per second, the images it captures aren't of the best quality, but they're more than adequate for creeping on an unsuspecting subject.
The good news is that, for the time being, the camera is nothing more than a proof-of-concept. In order for it to be deployed in the real world as a near-invisible surveillance device, someone a lot smarter than me will need to figure out how to store image data and transmit it using hardware that's just as discrete as the camera's image sensor and power source are.Fingers crossed that it'll take them a while to work those issues out. Image via pxhere Read the rest
Silversea Cruises has sliced their massive Silversea ship in half so that they can inset a 15 meter (50 feet) extension and increase the ship's capacity by 15 percent. While this kind of thing is commonly done to convert regular automobiles into stretch limos, the company describes this undertaking as a "rarely performed feat of maritime architecture." From CNN:
The elaborate engineering feat, underway at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Italy, requires over 500 skilled workers and will take up approximately 450,000 man hours.
A prebuilt 15-meter extension (almost 50 feet) has already been inserted with "military precision" to stretch Silver Spirit from 195.8 to 210.7 meters.
(Thanks, Kelly Sparks!)
Anil Dash's third law holds that "Three things never work: Voice chat, printers and projectors." But Joshua Rothman's long, fascinating, even poetic profile of the Xerox engineers who work on paper-path process improvements is such a bit of hard-science whimsy that it almost makes me forgive every hour I've spent swearing over jammed paper. Read the rest
Microfluidic systems that move and mix tiny amounts of liquids are used in laboratories for biotechnology, chemistry, and even the development of inkjet technology. Frequently, microfluidic devices are integrated into a single "lab on a chip" but fabricating such systems can be costly and time-consuming. Now, MIT researchers are using customized LEGO bricks to make a modular microfluidics platform. Their prototype system "could be used to manipulate biological fluids and perform tasks such as sorting cells, filtering fluids, and encapsulating molecules in individual droplets." From MIT:
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To demonstrate modularity, (mechanical engineering grad student Crystal) Owens built a prototype onto a standard LEGO baseplate consisting of several bricks, each designed to perform a different operation as fluid is pumped through. In addition to making the fluid mixer and droplet generator, she also outfitted a LEGO brick with a light sensor, precisely positioning the sensor to measure light as fluid passed through a channel at the same location.
Owens says the hardest part of the project was figuring out how to connect the bricks together, without fluid leaking out. While LEGO bricks are designed to snap securely in place, there is nevertheless a small gap between bricks, measuring between 100 and 500 microns. To seal this gap, Owens fabricated a small O-ring around each inlet and outlet in a brick.
“The O-ring fits into a small circle milled into the brick surface. It’s designed to stick out a certain amount, so when another brick is placed beside it, it compresses and creates a reliable fluid seal between the bricks.