Paul Adams

Fed Up With Tabletop Puddles, Scientists Engineer a High-Tech Dripless Teapot

We've all experienced the fluid-dynamics phenomenon known as the "teapot effect." Every time you pour out a nice relaxing cup of tea, a little of the elixir dribbles down the outside of the spout of the teapot, dampening your doily and your spirits.

It happens because liquid clings to the lip of the spout instead of exiting neatly, especially at low rates of flow.

Cyril Duez and his team of fluid dynamicists could not tolerate one more dribble. They have identified the root cause, a "hydro-capillary effect" that makes the tea fail to leave the spout material gracefully. Two techniques can be used to combat this.

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Mouse Scampers on Giant Trackball, Plays Quake

Lab mice can say goodbye to clunky old non-virtual mazes

Mouse in Virtual Maze:  David Tank
In this video, a mouse runs through a virtual maze derived from a Quake 2 level, by steering a trackball suspended on a jet of air. Obviously the Princeton scientists did this because it's awesome, but the ostensible reason is because it gives them unprecedented access to study the neurological activity of the rodent while it moves around.

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iRobot's Cronenbergian Blob Bot is Ready to Roll, or Rather Ooze

iRobot, who brought us the Roomba and friends, have now devised a ball-shaped, undulating "chembot" under the auspices of -- who else -- DARPA. The lovable machine resembles something you might find on a surreal dim sum platter: a pale, doughy blob that changes shape, inflates, deflates, and will ultimately be able to squeeze through tiny cracks in pursuit of its target.

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This Week in the Future, October 5-9, 2009

This Week in the Future, October 5-9, 2009:  Illustration by Baarbarian
The littlest gold miners, the tidiest bees, and the least fun Wii game ever. Welcome to this week's Future.

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In The Future, All Our Pop Idols Will Be Machines

Performing live at CEATEC, everyone's favorite catwalk model bot has been loaded with Vocaloid software (Rin), enabling her to croon sweet pop songs.

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Video: Internal Gyroscope Is the Future of Training Wheels

Did you use training wheels when you learned to ride a bicycle? My dad was convinced they slowed down the learning process and taught bad habits, so he just held on to the back of the seat and ran down the street with me while I pedaled. Then he let go and I fell over. Rinse knees, repeat, until I caught on to the trick of keeping my balance.

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Is This the Perfect Temperature-Regulating Coffee Mug?

It's an everyday irritation: Your coffee's too hot to sip, so you dump in some milk and set it aside for a minute while you answer just one email. Turn back to the coffee, and now it's tepid and unappetizing.

The geniuses at the Fraunhofer Institute, just like us regular folks, are fed up with such nonsense. Unlike us, though, they're German engineers, so they've created the Perfect Coffee Mug to extirpate imperfect coffee once and for all.

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China Reports the First Human Nano-Fatalities

Two women in China have achieved the dubious honor of being the first humans to be killed by nanotechnology. The women, who worked in a poorly ventilated factory spraying a paint that contained nanoparticles, reportedly inhaled the particles over a period of months. The tiny compounds infiltrated the workers' lungs and skin, causing lung damage, fluid buildup, and eventual respiratory failure.

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ChefStack is Like an ATM For Pancakes

ChefStack Automatic Pancake Machine:  courtesy ChefStack

At $3,500, this little beauty may not find its way onto my kitchen counter any time soon, but I have to admit it's tempting. Fill it with batter, close the lid, and the ChefStack shoots out perfectly formed pancakes at a rate of 200 per hour.

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A Map of the First Moonwalk, Showing Scale

Baseball on the Moon:  NASA

For your convenience, NASA has here superimposed a map of Aldrin and Armstrong's strolls around the Sea of Tranquility onto a standard baseball diamond.

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Apollo 11 Mission Gear Up For Auction

Always dreamed of using Neil Armstrong's moon rock collection bag as an overnight duffle? Now's your chance

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of man's landing on the moon, you can buy yourself a little piece of space history. On July 16, the auction house Bonhams is conducting an auction of lunar memorabilia. The sale includes a number of items that the Apollo 11 mission crew carried onto the moon's surface on the history-making trip. Lunar dust still covers some of the lots.

Included are the checklists that the astronauts used as they proceeded through the landing (estimated price: $125,000-$175,000), flight plans, star charts, models, specimen collection cases, and more. It includes items from the collection of spacecraft engineer Dr. Maxime Faget, and many pieces used and autographed by Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon.

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This Is How a Robot Will Crawl Through Your Veins

Virob will twitch through your circulatory system performing microsurgery; a fantastically creepy voyage

There's something magnificently creepy about this tiny bot, just one millimeter wide, developed at Israel's Technion University. Maybe it's the resemblance to a twitching tick or flea, or the fact that it's so small there could be insectile bots all around you right now and you'd hardly notice. (The robot, called Virob, has no internal power source--it derives its power from external magnetic fields.

Or maybe it's that the bug is designed to infiltrate human veins, autonomously crawling around our circulatory systems, taking pictures and poking its feelers where no 'bot has gone before.

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Tested: Bedside Brainwave Scanner Grades Your Ability to Sleep

What's it like sleeping with a new device that scores your slumber quality, minute by minute, night by night?

Zeo Headband:  courtesy Zeo

I'm still waiting for the technology that finally does away with my need to sleep. But since I do need my nightly dose (I've tried going without, and it's ugly), I'd like to make sure I'm doing it as efficiently as possible. A new device called the Zeo promises to help stamp out bad sleep and wasted time in bed, by bringing deep analysis of sleep patterns, formerly the province of professional sleep laboratories, into the home.

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Let's Regrow Our Limbs, Salamander-Style

The DoD wants to take a page from the axolotl's book

Nip off the leg of this little axolotl salamander, and he grows it right back. The beasts' regenerative powers extend to their limbs, skin, jaws, those feathery antler-gills on its head, and even parts of its nervous system and brain. Now the U.S. Department of Defense has allocated $6.25 million to research how it does its thing, and whether we can do the same.

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Jets of 7200°F Hydrogen Cut Through Granite at 100 Feet per Hour

Tired of wearing out diamond bits when you're drilling miles deep into the earth's crust? Try using a high-velocity flame jet instead

Inspired by designs created by his father decades ago, Jared Potter is building an arsenal of ultra-powerful flame-jet drills. As seen in the NatGeo video above, one prototype directs a jet of burning hydrogen at 3200°F against a slab of solid granite.

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