Tech universe: Wednesday 28 July

By Miraz Jordan

A round-up of the latest technology news from around the globe.

DIY SPACE: Fancy adding your own satellite to the gazillions of pieces of space junk orbiting the Earth? An $11,000 DIY personal satellite kit from Interorbital Systems includes batteries, antenna, solar panels and a microcomputer, and the company will launch it into space for you on its own rocket. Ready, set, go.

HIGH ON GRASS: British Airways aims to turn potato peel and lawn clippings into jet kerosene. A new processing plant will take 500,000 tonnes of domestic and other waste each year and convert it into jet fuel. Every little bit helps. Details at the Sydney Morning Herald.

SMART AND COOL: University of Maryland's new energy-efficient metal alloy absorbs or creates heat. Current refrigeration fluids contribute to global warming, but this "thermally elastic" solid coolant is almost twice as efficient. That means a lot of power savings and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Be interesting to see how else it could be used: chilly bin, anyone?

CLEAN PAPER: Graphene oxide paper could be used for anti-bacterial bandages, food packaging that keeps food fresher for longer or even shoes that ward off foot odour. Researchers found that E. coli bacteria could not grow on the low-cost paper. Does this mean we'll use less plastic? I'm all for it. Read more at ACS.

NOTHING TO SNIFF AT: A $300 Israeli "sniff" device can be used to drive a wheelchair: two breaths in move you forward; two breaths out, move you backward. A small tube in the nose is connected to a computer that detects changes in air pressure, how long a sniff lasts, and how strong it is. Don't sneeze, whatever you do! Details at NPR.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz

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