Tech Universe: Friday 2 March

A high-speed camera captures the first full-energy shots from the Office of Naval Research-funded electromagnetic railgun prototype. Photo / Supplied
A high-speed camera captures the first full-energy shots from the Office of Naval Research-funded electromagnetic railgun prototype. Photo / Supplied

BOOM: The US Navy is now testing its new railgun — the real thing, not just a lab model. The railgun fires an 18kg metal slug at up to 9000 km/h. Each round is designed to destroy ships, land targets and missiles with its kinetic energy. But to get that power out requires a huge power input, and how to achieve that on a navy vessel is still a huge question. Meanwhile, the tests are very impressive. Just imagine the casualties if that thing is pointed in the wrong direction. More details at Gizmodo and video here.

GREEN APPLE: Apple has a data centre in Maiden, North Carolina. Apple are also building a 40 hectare, 20 megawatt solar array beside it to provide around 42 million kWh of energy each year. The facility will be the largest end-user owned, onsite solar array in the US. But wait, they are also building the biggest non-utility fuel cell installation in the US next to that.

It makes sense. The big users of energy should
also be building their own supply using renewable sources. 9to5Mac.

LIGHT AND DENSE: Electric cars need batteries, but the battery adds weight that means the car can't travel so far. So the batteries need to be energy dense and that costs a lot, maybe as much as $600 per kWh. Envia say they've created a very energy dense battery that could reduce the cost to $125 per kWh. That also means a lighter battery, allowing a vehicle to travel as much as 400 or 500 km between charges.
Their batteries are still in the prototype stage, but may be commercially available in around three years. I think there was merit in the idea of using the battery itself to form at least part of the car body. GigaOm has more.

SENSIBLE SHOES: Nike+ Training Shoes have sensors in the soles that feed data in real time about your workout to a smartphone. Data includes height of jumps and speed, while the app lets you compare your scores with those from friends. And can the team's coach aggregate the whole lot, I wonder? More at DVICE and video here.

RECYCLED HIPS: We know that electronic devices contain metals and other substances that should be recovered and not just tossed in the landfill. But have you thought about what may be in the human body to cause problems when we die? Steel pins, titanium hips and cobalt-chrome knees are some of the items we should be worrying about. Implants are made from good quality metal and are worth recycling.
That's why companies are springing up to retrieve metal implants from crematoria and recycle them. And as we start adding electronics to our bodies, this problem can only increase. More details here

- Miraz Jordan

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