Tech Universe: Thursday 26 April

By Miraz Jordan

Capsules in evacuated tubes. Photo / YouTube
Capsules in evacuated tubes. Photo / YouTube

TAKE THE TUBE: Travelling by plane can be boring: packed in like sardines, droning engines, and probably not much to look at. ET3 would like to move us around much quicker and more cheaply, using capsules in evacuated tubes. Car sized passenger capsules would travel in 1.5m diameter tubes on frictionless maglev. Air is removed from the tubes, with airlocks at transfer stations. Electric motors accelerate the 6-person cars which then coast the rest of the way. ET3 aim for regional transport to be at 600 Kph, but international travel at 6,500 Kph. Imagine: a bit over an hour to travel to Hawai'i, except I bet the tubes won't cross the Pacific.

BIKE FIXINGS: Bike Fixtation in the USA have a great idea: work stands, vending machines, kiosks and bike pumps in public places. The Work Stand, for example, is made of steel for durability. It provides a couple of ways to hold your bike and has 8 bicycle tools tethered by stainless steel aircraft cable.

The Vending Machine dispenses snacks, and also items such as inner tubes, patch kits and locks. Several different models of pumps can be bolted to a concrete surface. All it needs is an Internet kiosk where the less experienced can look up how-to videos for fixing a bike.

PLASTIC REPLICATION: DNA and RNA are the basic replicators of life forms. They evolve over time. Now researchers have created a new self-replicating molecular system called XNA, where the X stands for 'xeno', or 'alien'. DNA contains natural sugars. To make XNA the researchers replaced the sugar with a polymer. Plastic is taking over the world.

GO FOR GOLD: Brain surgery's a rather delicate matter, and for surgeons removing cancerous cells they really don't want to take out more of the brain than absolutely necessary. Scientists at Stanford University have created spherical nanoparticles from gold coated with a metal called gadolinium and a layer of silica. The nanoparticles were shown to accumulate in cancer cells during tests on mice. Heated with laser pulses, the particles can be detected with a sonogram to produce real-time images of the tumour. That means surgeons should be able to accurately remove just cancerous brain cells. It's a shame that heating with laser pulses doesn't handle the destruction of the cancerous cells too.

FULL SOLAR JACKET: The Tokyo Institute of Technology are making more than a gesture towards solar power. They've clad their 7 story Environment and Energy Innovation Building with 4,500 solar panels. The 650 KW the cells generate is supplemented by 100 KW of fuel cells, so the building itself generates about half the energy it needs.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 29 Nov 2014 06:10:21 Processing Time: 439ms