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Top 10 must-see posts from June

Tue, 07/09/2013 - 3:22pm
Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments. Keep checking out the Lead at www.ecnmag.com and follow us on Twitter @ecnonline for our most up-to-date articles.

1. Czechs present bicycle that can fly

by The Associated Press
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…a flying bicycle? A team of three Czech companies have succeeded in created a prototype of an electric bicycle, which sustained a remote-controlled five-minute flight in Prague. The bike, which weighs 209 pounds, features six battery-powered propellers.

2. 3-D printing goes from sci-fi fantasy to reality
By Martha Mendoza, AP National Writer
3D printing is becoming a popular—and potential game changer—in fields ranging from medical to consumer electronics to military and aviation to engineering and beyond. The idea first found its home in Sci-fi stories set far in the future, but now it’s changing the world of manufacturing. At this point, the only limit for this technology appears to be the imagination. It’s found a particularly good match in on-the-go repairs where a delay could be financially devastating, debilitating to the company or even dangerous to workers.

3. Researchers use video game tech to steer roaches on autopilot
By NC State University
Remote controlled cockroaches? Not your typical area of study, but a team at North Carolina State University are using small computers on the roaches to steer them along a path determined by a human master. Plus, the program uses Kinect to gather data about how the roaches are reacting to the electrical pulses being used to control them. It might be hard to see a real-life purpose for the study, but researchers are hoping to use the technology during disasters. In the event of a collapse or other emergency, the roaches could be used to map and explore disaster sites.

4.Stanford scientists create novel silicon electrodes that improve lithium-ion batteries
By Eurekalert!
Electrodes made of silicon and conducting polymer hydrogel might be the key to improving lithium-ion batteries, according to scientists at Stanford University. Though Silicon was chosen for its abundance and being an environmentally benign element, it does come with a particular set of problems. “ Studies have shown that silicon particles can undergo a 400-percent volume expansion when combined with lithium. When the battery is charged or discharged, the bloated particles tend to fracture and lose electrical contact. To overcome these technical constraints, the Stanford team used a fabrication technique called in situ synthesis polymerization that coats the silicon nanoparticles within the conducting hydrogel,” according to the article. This approach could make lithium-ions even more powerful and useful.

5. Which qubit my dear? New method to distinguish between neighbouring quantum bits
By Eurekalert!
New research from the University of New South Wales has offered a way to distinguish quantum bits—or qubits—from other quantum bits on a silicon chip. The qubits, basic building blocks of quantum computers, may be the key to success for the ultra-powerful computers.  “In a significant feat of atomic engineering, they were able to read-out the spins of individual electrons on a cluster of phosphorus atoms that had been placed precisely in silicon. They also propose a new method for distinguishing between neighbouring qubits that are only a few nanometres apart,” according to the article.

6.Engineering Newswire 42: Futuristic airplanes carry passenger pods
By PDD
The PDD team makes another appearance in their weekly Engineering Newswire to talk about Hyperloop transportation, putting paralyzed people behind the wheel, and riding futuristic airplanes that carry passengers in pods. The main story introduces an idea by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology that would feature a plane made of one wing carrying three pods. The capsules—which would also be capatible with rail systems—would be 30 meters long and weigh 30 tons.

7. Cheap, color, holographic video
By EurekAlert!
Holograms could soon be a much cheaper, more viable option if researchers at MIT lab have anything to say. The team was able to use a new technique and a new optical chip (running about $10) to build a prototype color holographic video display with the resolution of an SD-television and which updates the video image 30 times per second to produce the illusion of motion, according to the article. The new chip uses a waveguide-based platform.

8. Engineering Update 12: A beer-pouring robot ... finally
By ECN
The ECN team makes its first appearance in the Top 10 list with a video about robots, chargers for soldiers, Google’s attempt at wind power, and how pills and tattoos could be used as authentication devices. Editorial Director Jeff Reinke and Associate Editor Melissa Barnes report in on the newest technology  and more interesting stories of the week.

9. 'Popcorn' particle pathways promise better lithium-ion batteries
by EurekAlert!
In another attempt to increase the performance in lithium-ion batteries, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have “confirmed the particle-by-particle mechanism by which lithium ions move in and out of electrodes made of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4, or LFP),” according to the article. The lack of understanding of the process has challenged any widespread adoption of the technology for applications like electric automobiles, medical equipment and aerospace engineering.

10. Low-power Wi-Fi signal tracks movement -- even behind walls
By EurekAlert!
Straight from sci-fi researchers from MIT have developed a low-powered, Wi-Fi signal capable of spotting people through walls. The system, called V-Fi transmits a wi-fi signal and uses the reflection of the signal to track moving people, according to the article. Any signals that are reflected by the wall or something that isn’t moving is cancelled out. Signals that change between a first and second antennae are reflected back to show one moving person.

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