Nikola Tesla Achieves Belated WSJ Fame, via David Bowie

Today, PopSci salutes the Wall Street Journal and its hedcut engraver for finding the Venn-diagram sliver where David Bowie, Nikola Tesla, and stippled front-page portraits overlap.

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Who Should Be the First Band To Play in Space?

This morning an odd story surfaced and began orbiting the Web: Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic signed '80s rock heartthrobs (now aging '80s rock heartthrobs) Spandau Ballet to be the first band to rock out in space.

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Video: Improvising Jazzbot Jams With Humans, Really Swings

Advances in robotics have lead to automatons that can do everything from ski to open doors to help the elderly.

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US record companies lose out on ringtones

A US Federal Court has ruled that mobile phone ringtones played aloud in public do not constitute a true performance and therefore do not infringe a content owner’s copyright. The implication now is that royalties do not need to be paid to music recording companies every time a ringtone is played. This may carry implications on the way ringtones are marketed, sold and used in Australia, depending on how influential the decision proves to be.

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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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Smoke/Laser Microphone Captures "Pure Sound" With No Interference

Technological advances have brought audio recording a long way over the past several decades, but, as with so many things, microphone recording is limited by the very technology that has pushed it forward. In this particular case, that limit is the diaphragm that converts sound into electrical signals by measuring vibrations made by incoming sound waves. Because each diaphragm has its own characteristics, all microphones are not created equal; and because the sound waves are converted by these diaphragms, there is always some degree of mechanical interference with the sound.

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Fungus-Infected Violin Beats Stradivarius in Listening Test

Violins made by the Italian master craftsman Antonio Stradivarius are worth millions of dollars for their unparalleled sound. And that's great, for the handful of musicians who can afford these centuries-old instruments. This month, a new violin made from wood treated with a fungus actually trumped a Stradivarius in a blind listening test, offering hope for violinists who want high tonal quality at an affordable price.

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Möbius Strip Music Box Brings Non-Orientable Topology to the Trinket World

The brain-melting concept of the Möbius strip has been used to explain complex, meaningful ideas such as time travel. But this simple, trivial music box, which uses a punch strip in the shape of a Möbius strip, might be my favorite application of the idea.

The music box will play the song once through, then plays it again upside-down, creating an endless, repeating loop of music. It may not solve the secrets of the universe--but hey--it looks so cool. Can you recognize the upside-down-and-backwards tune?

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Miles Davis in 8-bit!

Some would say ‘don’t mess with the classics’, others, particularly those born in the 80s with a love of jazz would say ‘if you don’t you wouldn’t get this!’

Love it or hate it, no one can deny the popularity world-wide of jazz music. There’s something about it that oozes cool no matter if it’s modern masterpieces or a classic collection. But recently, Andy Baio of put a whole new spin on the jazz genre, particularly the music of Miles Davis and his 1960s album, Some Kind of Blue.

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The Best Way To Keep Vinyl Records Alive? Make Them Yourself

ProTools? Bah! Let's make some vinyl! As part of Jerszy Seymoour's Coalition of Amateurs exhibition at Luxembourg's modern-art museum, Mudam, artist Yuri Suzuki created records from scratch in an afternoon.

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Humanthesizer Lets You Become the Music Machine

For UK musician Calvin Harris and his upcoming video "Ready For The Weekend," Sony tapped Bare Conductive and their special, electrically-friendly ink for a new idea--The Humanthesizer. Yes, we have become the instrument.

The Humanthesizer consists of 32 pads spread throughout out a room, which basically function as a giant-size sampler. Then, the hands and feet of Harris and his "instruments" are painted with the Bare Conductive ink and placed on the pads, so that when Harris touches the hands of each girl, the electrical circuit completes and a new note is generated.

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Palm Pre Syncs With iTunes Again

Palm throws a right jab, Apple ducks and weaves then jabs back, Palm goes for a huge blow and connects... This battle could go on for a while!

Apple and Palm have been playing a little cat-and-mouse over Palm’s decision to spoof iTunes so the popular music player will sync music with the new Palm Pre, and now the Pre scores another one. Apple’s release of iTunes 8.2.1 broke the Pre’s syncing, and though you could still find ways to get you music on the Pre, Palm strikes back by re-enabling iTunes sync in the latest WebOS update.

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Music-Powered Lab-On-A-Chip Promises Easier Health Screening

Engineers harness sound to simplify microfluidic devices (watch the music video!)

Thanks to a new approach to one of microfluidics' biggest challenges -- how do you propel fluid in a number of directions at once without the clutter of myriad electromechanical valves and pumps? -- we could be closer to seeing our smartphones double as home flu kits. Credit goes to a team of chemical engineers at the University of Michigan for coming up with the innovative system, which uses music to control the fluid.

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Musical Typewriter Turns Your Essays Into Aural Masterpieces

Yamaha and Fabian Cappello teamed up to deliver this modified typewriter, which has each key wired to play a different musical note as you type. The end result is a sentence that also plays out as a melody.

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Turning Brain Waves Into Beautiful Music

By converting functional MRI scans into musical notes of varying dynamics and frequencies, a new data visualization for our thoughts is born

Ever wondered what your brain sounds like on the inside? Trinity College philosophy professor Dan Lloyd has created a program that orchestrates our brainwaves. Scanning brains on an MRI, Lloyd can watch as certain areas of the brain light up and then assign different frequencies to the areas of the brain used, correlating the intensity of usage with volume. The results are bizarrely beautiful.

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