Tech Universe: Friday 30 March

By Miraz Jordan

The National Ignition Facility in the USA generates nearly 100 times more energy than any other laser in operation. Photo / Supplied
The National Ignition Facility in the USA generates nearly 100 times more energy than any other laser in operation. Photo / Supplied


PERFECT HARMONY: The National Ignition Facility in the USA generates nearly 100 times more energy than any other laser in operation. Recently the facility's 192 lasers fired in perfect unison, to deliver a record 1.875 million joules of ultraviolet laser light to the target chamber. The shaped pulse of energy was a mere 23 billionths of a second long but it generated 411 trillion watts of peak power. The ultimate goal is to achieve fusion ignition. Brief but bright. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has details here.

ON YOUR BIKE: If your bicycle seat is low enough to easily mount the bike or put your feet down when stopped then it's almost certainly too low for pedalling. Elev8Bikes solve this problem with a seat you can raise and lower, even while riding. The seat post is split and the seat is attached only to the top bar, hinged near the handlebar. The rider presses an actuator button on the handlebar to raise and lower the entire seat and top-tube with a gas pump.

This should boost the number of casual cyclists deterred by problems getting on and off the bike. More at Elev8Bikes and video here.

GLUE HIGH: Steel and concrete are used in tall buildings because they're strong. But they're not very environmentally friendly. That's why one architect in Vancouver is aiming to make a 30 story building from wood, without using steel or concrete. The structure will use strands of wood glued together. The architect claims the building will lock in CO2, unlike cement that generates a lot of CO2 when it's
created. That glue had better have a lot of stickability. CNN has more.

THE JELLIES ARE COMING: Researchers from the US have developed a robotic jellyfish, the Robojelly, powered by hydrogen and oxygen in water. Two bell-like structures made of silicone fold like an umbrella. Artificial muscles made of carbon nanotubes, platinum and a nickel-titanium alloy contract when heated. When a mix of hydrogen and oxygen meets the platinum it generates heat and water vapour. That heat moves the muscles, pumps out water and starts the process again. The device could be used for military surveillance or water monitoring. Or a lava lamp revolution. University of Texas at Dallas. More details here and video here.


COLD INTERNET: The Internet just has to go through — this time via undersea fibre optic cables through the Arctic between Europe and Japan. The new cable routes are some 8,000 Km shorter than current overland routes. As the cable goes past Canada it'll bring Internet to some remote communities that have had to rely on satellite until now. The new undersea cables have become possible because of reduced ice in the Arctic. One problem though is that the cable-laying ships aren't designed for Arctic waters, meaning additional support vessels will be needed. Going where no cable has gone before. More at Discovery News.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz

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