Tech Universe: Thursday 27 September

By Miraz Jordan

ISN'T A WOMAN JUST LIKE A MAN?: Soldiers wear body armour, of course. But until now the designers haven't catered for differing body shapes, or more specifically, for the 14 per cent of the US Army who are women. Female soldiers reported they often had trouble bending over, getting in and out of tight spaces like military vehicles, or positioning their rifles against their shoulders because the body armour was too big. Finally though, some female soldiers heading to Afghanistan will field test the first body armour that is shorter and better tailored for women. So the designers just hadn't noticed that women's bodies are different from men's? Jacksonville has further info.

TWIN PEEKS: Sony's DEV-5 Digital Recording Binoculars can record HD video and 7.1MP still images too. They have a 10x optical zoom (and 10x digital) and are designed for for birdwatching, sporting events and close-ups of wildlife. They provide continual autofocus while zooming and perform well in low light. Shots are geotagged with built-in GPS, and an LCD can display your current location on a map. The binoculars have a 35.6 degree field of view, 1.1 cm lenses and are image stabilised. Just watch out for the neighbour who's not really watching the birds near your house. Sony has more.

Check out the video.

CHOCOLATE TRACKER: Nestle in the UK has a different kind of promotion going called We will find you. Six KitKat or other chocolate bars contain a GPS device. When it's activated a control centre is notified and a team tracks down the owner within 24 hours. The lucky chocolate eater will win £10,000. You are where you eat. JWT London details. Video here.

EFFICIENT CHAOS: Many processes create waste heat as a by-product that needs to be disposed of. Turning that heat into electricity though would be much more useful. Current thermoelectrics convert about 5 to 7 per cent of heat energy into electricity. Chemists at Northwestern University in the US believe that introducing disorder into the structure of the materials may make the process more efficient. Adding sodium atoms and nanocrystals of strontium telluride to the standard thermoelectric lead telluride and then fracturing the material increased its efficiency to around 15 per cent. The cracks allowed electrons to move but reflected heat vibrations within the crystal. There aren't many things that work better after being shattered. Nature explains.

BRAIN SLIP: A team at Johns Hopkins University have designed nanoparticles coated with poly(ethylene glycol) that can safely and predictably infiltrate deep into the brain. Once embedded in the brain the particles can slowly and steadily disperse drugs to treat cancer and other diseases. Until now it's been a problem to administer chemotherapy at a dose high enough to penetrate the brain yet low enough to be safe. Previous attempts to use nanoparticles have failed because the particles would stick to nearby cells instead of dispersing. These particles are more slippery and don't stick to the site where they're introduced. So why don't the nanoparticles just keep slipping right on by their targets? The Johns Hopkins University elaborates.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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