It’s a well-worn trope in heist movies: the array of lasers surrounding a diamond — or the Fabergé Coronation Egg — in the middle of a museum gallery, the beams crisscrossing at odd angles, ready to sound an alarm if a thief inadvertently breaks one of them.
You won’t often find such arrays in real-life museums; if Catherine Zeta-Jones can outfox a security system while blindfolded it’s probably not the most effective means of protecting your valuables. But that doesn’t stop people from wanting to maneuver laser-filled rooms themselves, to test their mettle as would-be burglars.
That’s what the folks at Nerdworking are betting on, anyway. The company has built a “laser playground” at its headquarters in... MORE
Self-driving cars are one of those things — like jetpacks and silver lamé bodysuits — that have come to be synonymous with “the future,” to represent everything we hope to achieve and everything we hope to become. But unlike jetpacks and silver lamé bodysuits, self-driving vehicles are on track to be a staple of the present. As I have discussed here and here, the past several years have seen tremendous strides in autonomous driving.
But for all the utopian visions of a world inhabited by vehicles that drive themselves — catch another hour of sleep while your car takes you to work; never again have to worry about finding a parking spot – there’s a potentially sinister and even dangerous side to autonomous driving. Not the... MORE
I was sitting in the darkened theater, watching the credits roll by as I pondered what I’d just seen in Star Trek Into Darkness. I was only half-paying attention — mostly I was trying to decide whether (SPOILER ALERT) Spock’s “Khaaaaan!” line was poignant or hilarious — but a bit of text crawling up the screen happened to catch my eye: something to the effect of, “The producers would like to thank Siemens Healthcare.”
Hold on a sec. Siemens Healthcare?
Turns out the movie studio had approached Siemens looking for ultrasound technology to use in the movie and the company was happy to oblige. If you look closely in Star Trek Into Darkness you might just see a Siemens ACUSON P10 and an ACUSON X300 ultrasound system.
The University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics is kind of a downer. In perusing a single issue I discovered the following:
The helicarrier — the flying aircraft carrier that’s home to a bunch of superspies in the movie The Avengers — is actually somewhat fantastical. Modern rotors couldn’t provide the necessary propeller frequency for the three or four large blades shown in the movie to keep the thing aloft (374 RPM and 324 RPM, respectively).
Based on a consideration of elements of plasma physics, it wouldn’t be possible using today’s technology to produce a lightsaber anything like those featured in the Star Wars movies.
Katrina and The Waves lied to us. You can’t walk on sunshine. The... MORE
Publish or perish, they say. But what if the pressure to do so is undermining the scientific process?
C. Glenn Begley, senior vice-president at TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals in Malvern, Pa., is acutely aware of this possibility. Whenever he asks professors what’s the most important thing for students and postdoctoral fellows to do while at their institution. The answer, almost invariably, is to get a paper into Nature or Science or Cell. Doing so guarantees the next position for the student or postdoc, and the next grant for the principal investigator.
This of course leads to competing interests, beyond the direct financial interests researchers are typically required to disclose: The pressure to publish can outweigh the desire to report only the most rigorously tested and... MORE