Alexandra Ossola
at 08:42 AM Mar 27 2015
Hacks // 

Spending long summer evenings outside comes with a big nuisance: bug bites. Mosquitos and other insects are drawn to the lights illuminating your dinner party, which helps them hone in on their human prey. While that might mean a few days of itchy welts for some of us, the implications are much more dire in other countries where bug bites can mean infection of some nasty diseases such as leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and malaria. Now, a team of researchers is experimenting with LED lights that can ward off insects but still appear as functional white light for humans. They published their findings in the May issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions B.

Jonathan Rossiter
at 11:06 AM Mar 17 2015
Hacks // 

The word “bionic” conjures up images of science fiction fantasies. But in fact bionic systems – the joining of engineering and robotics with biology (the human body) – are becoming a reality here and now.

Loren Grush
at 10:40 AM Mar 16 2015
Hacks // 

A group holding red cups full of beer converged around a kitchen table littered with petri dishes, pipettes, and other basic laboratory equipment. Our host/lab director, Justin Pahara, explained how we were all going to take a custom snippet of DNA and stick it into some unsuspecting Escherichia coli bacteria. In essence, we were about to reprogram a living cell in an Austin, Texas kitchen.

at 08:13 AM Feb 4 2015
Hacks // 

Ripping movies from DVDs may be of questionable legality, but it's not hard to do. Ripping music from CDs is even easier, and less legally gray. So why can't you rip your books into ebooks? Well, Amazon's now got a way for you to do just that—presuming you have a scanner, a wallet, and plenty of time on your hands.

at 08:03 AM Jan 12 2015
Hacks // 

Why walk anywhere when you can rocket there instead? Acton's Rocket Skates, which were recently (and overwhelmingly) funded through Kickstarter, are electric, motorized skates that strap on right over your shoes. Either tilt forward to accelerate ahead or tilt back to slow down and break. Watch as Katie Linendoll test drives the Rocket Skates in the video above.

at 08:21 AM Nov 26 2014
Hacks // 

You probably don't think of them that way, but Blu-ray discs have a gorgeous color. In fact, the same physics that gives butterfly wings and housefly eyes their iridescent shine are also at work on Blu-ray. All are examples of what physicists call structural color, which are colors created not from pigments, but from translucent, microscopic shapes that capture light and reflect it in such a way that it appears colored to the human eye.

Daniel Engber
at 07:10 AM Nov 14 2014
Hacks // 

That logic still holds with today’s machines. A good smack can temporarily fix an intermittent connection, but it’s risky. Whacking a platter-based hard drive, for example, could damage the head. That’s why “percussive maintenance” is best left to professionals. A few well-placed taps may identify a weak connection on a printed circuit board, says Blakely, who has been an electrical technician for almost 50 years. “The word ‘tap’ is important,” he adds. “It’s not ‘hit;’ it’s ‘tap.’”

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