Seth Fletcher

2011 Chevy Volt Unveiled

After months of anticipation, Chevy releases its final Volt design

Today, after a nearly two-year tease, General Motors unveiled the final design for the car that it hopes will save the company: the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the world's first production plug-in hybrid. The Volt is designed to drive 40 miles on a single charge of its giant lithium-ion battery; after that, an onboard 1.4-liter four-cylinder flex-fuel engine kicks in to power the electric motors that drive the car. GM will most likely make 10,000 of the cars in the first year of production; it's expected to go on sale in November 2010.

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Health Scare of the Day: Quantum Dots

Researchers find nanoscale crystals can enter your body through cuts in the skin.

Health risks for the 21st century worker keep getting weirder. Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that quantum dots—nanoparticles made of semiconducting crystals that emit light when stimulated at certain wavelengths—can penetrate skin through abrasions.

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Green Supercar Smackdown: Tesla Suing Fisker, Claiming Sabotage

Tesla says the founder of rival Fisker Coachbuild stole confidential information in order to build a competing vehicle.

High drama in the electric car world: According to the New York Times, electric sports-car manufacturer Tesla is suing Henrik Fisker and Bernhard Koehler of Fisker Coachbuild, charging that Fisker fraudulently signed on to design Teslas White Star sedan, sabotaged the sedan project by doing substandard work, then stole confidential information and went on to build a competing car—the Fisker Karma.

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Can It Be True? Rocket Racing League Announces Exhibition Flights

If all goes well (fingers crossed!), we’ll see rocket racers in the air this summer.

Dont count the Rocket Racing League out just yet. After a lengthy delay and intimations of its demise, the league has finally announced exhibition flights. Pending FAA approval, a ten-minute flight will take place the first weekend of August at this summers EAA Airventure festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Granger Whitelaw made the announcement this morning at a press conference in New York, admitting that the news was coming some fifteen months later than he had hoped. I will take full responsibility for the delay, he said.

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Cocktail Party Science: How it Works

In the fifth episode, we delve even further inside today's cutting-edge tech

Rip open a Pleo, get the run down on hybrids, and learn about the military's futuristic flying laser gun as Chuck Cage and the editors of PopSci take a behind-the-scenes tour of the third annual How it Works issue. Learn the stories behind the stories of some of the world's most sophisticated machines.

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When Automotive Design Goes Bad

Presenting the ugliest car at the New York Auto Show

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Later well be posting a gallery of the most attractive, noteworthy, and technologically advanced cars from this years New York International Auto Show (watch our auto show coverage page here). But for now, I present you with the most unfortunate piece of automotive design on the showroom floor: The Toyota Yaris Club Five Axis Design.

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Automotive X-Prize is Official; Progressive to Sponsor

So far 65 teams have signed up to compete for a piece of the $10 million prize

Strange as it might seem, the Automotive X-Prize—which will award a $10 million prize to the team(s) that develop production-ready cars that get the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon—wasn't official until this afternoon. But today at a press conference at the New York International Auto Show, X-Prize honcho Peter Diamandis fired the starting gun (see Diamandis talk about the competition in the video above).

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GM Ropes in 50 Cent for its Odd Unveiling

The new face of Pontiac revealed in the New York Auto Show's weirdest press conference yet

The long awaited Pontiac El Camino—I mean, the Pontiac G8 Sport Truck—arrived this morning at the New York Auto Show in what might be the most amusingly schizophrenic press conference in history.

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Cocktail Party Science: Solving the Gas Problem

The editors and writers of PopSci sit down with host Chuck Cage to discuss genetically-modified fuel, the Vatican and whether the Internet is, indeed, for porn (not voters)

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Fuel your stomach, then fuel your mind with this week's edition of Cocktail Party Science. Listen in as host Chuck Cage talks to writer Amanda Schaffer and PopSci editor Seth Fletcher about how E. coli could become the most alternative fuel of all.

Plus: Should pollution be a sin? How 'bout genetic engineering?

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Test Drive: 2008 Mercedes C300 Sport Sedan

An intrepid editor pits Benz's new entry-level luxury car against the elements. Find out which wins

Maybe this would have been a good weekend to test a Land Rover. Im staring at a grille-high wall of snow, plowed overnight across the end of the icy Adirondack driveway. On the other side is a snowy country lane, and maybe oncoming traffic—I can only see straight ahead because of the mountainous snowdrifts piled on all sides. Im pretty sure the locals are breaking out the snowmobiles today. I try the safe, slow approach and end up stuck atop an icy little barrier. Fortunately, this 2008 Mercedes C300 sport sedan, which Im driving for my weekend in the country, crawls out easily in reverse. After confirming that I can ram out into the road without hitting anything, I get a running start, plow through the snowdrift, turn hard to the left and brake, skidding onto the road; I can feel the gentle percussion of the antilock brakes as we glide to a soft, abrupt stop.

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Darpa's New Goal: A Plane That Flies for Five Years

The agency is set to announce contracts for the program soon.

The highest-endurance aircraft currently flying is Northrop Grummans Global Hawk UAV, which can stay aloft for up to 40 hours. Now Darpa—which, to its credit, is never short on outlandish ideas—wants to beat that endurance record more than 1,000 times. The goal of Darpa's recently launched Vulture Program is to build a kind of atmospheric satellite that can stay aloft for five years at a time with little or no maintenance.

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Saab Announces Hybrid, E85-Powered Hatchback

At the Geneva Auto Show: a biofuel-powered concept for the well-heeled 20-somethings of tomorrow

As the Saab logo on the hood attests, this is not a Mini Cooper from the future. It's the Swedish automaker's latest concept car—a next-gen compact that runs on a 1.4 liter, E85-capable turbocharged engine paired with an electric hybrid system. It draws on Saabs earlier Aero-X and 9X concepts, and follows on the heels of the Saab 9-4X BioPower crossover concept unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

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Update: Lessig Not Running For Congress After All

The free-information guru decides winning a congressional seat this year would be impossible

That was anticlimactic. A little more than a week after announcing that he was considering running for a recently vacated seat in California's 12th congressional district, tech thinker and Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig announced yesterday on his blog that he wasn't running after all. The reason is simple enough. A pollster showed Lessig that there was "no possible way" for him to win. And it wouldn't be pleasant.

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Your Encrypted Data: Not So Safe After All

The ultra-high-tech code-cracking weapon? A can of spray duster

Researchers at Princeton have discovered that with a can of duster and a laptop, it takes only matter of minutes to crack most encryption software, including BitLocker, FileVault, dm-crypt and TrueCrypt. The weak link that makes this ridiculously simple hack possible is the DRAM chip. Heres why: Any time your computer is on, that chip contains the key used to access encrypted data on your hard drive. Once that chip loses power, the bits stored on it are supposed to disappear immediately. But thats not really what happens.

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Lunar X Prize Competitors Announced

Meet the 10 teams that could get a privately funded rover on the moon

Today at a press conference at Google's Mountain View, California headquarters, the X Prize Foundation announced the 10 official competitors for its $30 million Google Lunar X Prize. It will not be an easy thing to win. To qualify, a team must land a privately funded spacecraft on the moon, rove at least 500 meters, and beam a particular set of video, pictures and data back to earth. Oh, and ideally it will do this within the next four years, because after December 31st 2012, the purse drops to $15 million.

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