Tech Universe: Thursday 21 March

By Miraz Jordan

Leave the frozen peas in the freezer. Photo / Thinkstock
Leave the frozen peas in the freezer. Photo / Thinkstock

PEAS IN A PAD: If you've ever grabbed a pack of peas from the freezer to cool down a sprain or injury then you'll appreciate FrozenPeaz. Rather than petroleum gel, the packs are made with Zemea propanediol balls, and they in turn are made from fermented corn syrup. The product uses Clear Ice Solution to absorb and retain heat and cold and is both flexible and reusable. But while you may always have peas in the freezer, will you have the right size FrozenPeaz pack when you need it?

SET PHASERS TO SOUND: A laser amplifies light, causing photons of a specific and very narrow wavelength to travel in the same direction at the same time. But how about if you could do that with sound phonons? Scientists at NTT Basic Research Laboratories in Japan have created a phaser that confines phonons, or sound waves, to a very narrow wavelength. But while light can travel through a vacuum, phonons need a medium to carry them.

That means the phaser is confined within its creating device. Such coherent sound could be used for ultrasound medical imaging, high-precision measurements and other purposes. Do not listen directly to the phaser.

INVISIBLE PRINTING: 3D printers have been accepted fairly quickly but the new tabletop 3D laser lithography printer from Nanoscribe adds a quirk. The Photonic Professional GT produces tiny objects in the sub-micrometer range in seconds instead of minutes. Handy next time you need an invisible cat print.

GREEN WALLS: Walgreens in the US is planning a net zero energy retail store in Illinois. Solar panels and wind turbines will generate electricity while geothermal technology and ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration will supply heat. Energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting and using daylight will help make the building so energy efficient it actually creates more than it consumes. If they could apply this to all their 8,000 stores they could have a significant positive impact. That shows commendable initiative.

THE LONG VIEW: If you're going to cheat a casino then you need to make sure you play your cards right. One cheater in Melbourne managed to clean up $32 million by having an accomplice hack into the high-resolution security cameras. The accomplice tipped the player off as to what cards he was playing against. Which just goes to show that anything that can be used to protect you can also be used as a weapon against you. Herald Sun.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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