Wireless Power Transmission

I spent years bemoaning the fact that the laws of physics didn’t allow the wireless transmission of power. Now it seems that I bemoaned prematurely. Researchers at MIT have a found a way to use inductance to power a 60W (think similar power rating to a laptop) lightbulb from a distance of up to 2 metres.

I  know it doesn’t sound like much, but as I look at my desk I can’t help thinking that a short range power transmitter would help. I’m sure it beats Quartz crystals as a source of magic moonbeams as well.


An Ominous Blog Post

Normally I have a very optimistic outlook. Especially when it comes to technological breakthroughs. But this morning I was given pause for thought. MAKE magazine carried a news article today about a highly accurate DNA replicator for $10. I am fully convinced that such breakthroughs can be used to tackle the issues of world poverty, but I’ve just finished reading Tomorrow’s War by David Shukman. It was written over 10 years ago but was gloomy, even then about our chances of controlling the proliferation of expertise in the production of WMD, and it was written before 9/11.

At this rate, the techniques and the resources for biological weapons development will be freely available, but the skills needed to combat them will not. I just think of the irresponsibility of computer hackers and virus writers – who often wreak havoc without any thought of the costs or consequences. If such power can be unleashed in the real world, then we are in way more danger than we ever were during the cold war.

That is a doomsday scenario, if you ask me.

I gotta git me some of this!

The mind boggles at the possibilities of shapelock!

It is a ‘Ultra-High Molecular Weight Low Temperature Thermoplastic ‘ which is to say – a form of modelling plastic that can be made plyable at just above room temperature, and can be moulded to almost any shape, but which when it cools is hard as steel. Now I have my shed, (well I share it with Cockroaches and Huntsmen spiders and moths the size of mice, but I call it mine) and a double garage (not pronounced like Mirage but like Forage) I also have the opportunity (but not the leasure time) to get more ‘practical’. I seem to be spend a lot of my spare time working on my software projects. It leaves me wanting to produce something tangible and useful, rather than something intellectually satisfying. The problem with intellectual pursuits is that once you have gotten your head around a problem, no matter how difficult it seems at the outset, you are left thinking that the problem was actually quite simple. Which brings to mind Steven Wolfram’s assertion that there is really only one level of complexity – our perception of higher levels of complexity is really only an awareness of our lack of insight into the problem.

Anyway, I want to produce lasting, and useful little gadgets for a change – the kind of things that buzz and flicker. To inspire me I have been visiting the Maker site, which is where I found out about shapelock.
What I want from YOU is ideas for the above little doohickeys. What would be cool to make.     


Now here’s something I’d trade in the Hyundai to own

This Toyota concept car seems to have adopted the Fisher-Price/Window Media Player user interface approach to ergonomics. I’m not sure whether the dashboard is a touch screen, but I love the idea of exploring the object model of the car. I also love the idea of being able to control the car using a touch screen keyboard. In this age of automatic gearboxes and speed limiters, there is no reason for us still to be pulling and pushing levers to control the car – it’s a technological throwback, a bit like when a plane’s ailerons were controlled by cables attached to the joystick. That age has long past, but we still use joysticks – why?

Bring on the coffee cup holder keyboard to set gears and speeds. In fact why not control speed using an iPod scroll wheel? I suspect it will be a while before something like this filters out to the public, but I look forward to the day.

We got a new camera

We got ourselves the Canon PowershotPro1 in readiness for the big day (so that we can preserve the gore in glorious technicolour for all time). It’s a (as the Aussies would say) Beaut! Expect to see quite a few landscape and macro photos appearing here in the near future.

The link above is to the DP Review site, which contains more information on the camera than the manual does (and that took me all weekend to absorb). The overall conclusion from DPReview was that it was a good canmera, with one or two minor problems relating to speed, but it got a Recommended status.