Tech Universe: Friday 16 November

By Miraz Jordan

TRUE EXPLOSIONS: What do you do when your film script calls for a priceless car to be blown up? In the James Bond movie Skyfall the Aston Martin DB 5 explodes in flames, so the props makers created 3 precise copies using 3D printers. The car detail had to be as true to life as possible, so after printing using the plastic material PMMA the components were assembled, painted and had chrome added, along with bullet holes. The meticulous work paid off: one model was blown up, and another auctioned for $100,000. It must be a strange profession, doing your best work so it can be blown up. 3ders.org details.

BIKE WARMER: The Dutch like their bicycles, but it can be pretty chilly and icy in winter. So why not heat the bike paths? A test project in the Dutch province of Utrecht and the city of Zutphen will put pipes 50 metres below the bike paths. In the summer the pipes collect and store heat then release it in winter to warm the paths. The authorities aim to reduce the cost of ice and straw, and save money from fewer accidents. Mind you, it may be cheaper just to cover the paths. TreeHugger has more.

ARE YOU IN PAIN?: People in a vegetative state may be awake sometimes, but have no perception of themselves or the outside world.

This may be a result of an injury to the brain. Doctors recently used fMRI to scan the brain of one man in a vegetative state while asking him questions. One question was "are you in pain?". His pattern of brain activity showed he was clearly choosing to answer the questions, and that he responded "no" to the pain question. The doctors say that means the man knows who and where he is, and that it's a breakthrough for working with such patients. How powerful to be able to communicate via a brain scan when no other option is available. BBC explains.

BED BUGS: Hospitals are full of germs, and it stands to reason that sheets and gowns would carry bacteria and other organisms. Scientists at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya BarcelonaTech in Spain were able to eliminate infectious bacteria from medical textiles by treating them with nanoparticles and biopolymers. The process adds antimicrobial nanoparticles to the fabric that remain in place even through 70 washes. The treated fabrics should help prevent infections from spreading and so reduce the average length of stay. 70 washes is better than none, but that's not many in the context of a hospital, surely. Phys.org finds.

DON'T GET UP: Toyota's human support robot is designed to help people with limited mobility do simple tasks around the home, such as picking up items from the floor, opening curtains, retrieving items from high shelves, and serving as a bedside assistant. The small, roughly humanoid robot is controlled from a tablet. It has a single arm, with a pincer for picking up objects and can extend to reach high shelves. Limited mobility ... or the lazy. DVICE elaborates. Video here.

Miraz Jordan, http://knowit.co.nz

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