Tech Universe: Tuesday 29 January

By Miraz Jordan

The ice below the Geographic South Pole moves, taking the marker with it. Photo / Thinkstock
The ice below the Geographic South Pole moves, taking the marker with it. Photo / Thinkstock

POLES APART: There's an actual pole at the South Pole, but it's replaced every year because it keeps shifting. The ice below the Geographic South Pole moves, taking the marker with it. The previous marker is replaced by a flag. The 2013 pole includes icons to show the positions of the planets as at 01 January 2013, and a memorial to Neil Armstrong for his achievements on the moon. Ah, but which way points North?

TWIN BRIDGES: When an essential bridge can no longer support the traffic it needs to carry what do you do? In Oregon they moved the 87 year old Sellwood Bridge a few metres sideways to allow a new bridge to be built in its place. The 335 metre, 3400 ton truss span was moved on a curved path along beams, using hydraulic jacks for lifting. 10 horizontally-oriented 75-ton capacity hydraulic jacks moved the truss sideways.

The old bridge will be used as a detour bridge for traffic, cyclists and pedestrians while the new bridge is constructed. Moving a bridge is quite a sight and a huge feat of engineering.

ON WATCH: The Indian government has a plan to help women avoid and defend themselves against sexual assault, and it takes the form of a wristwatch. It's not just any old watch though, as it will be able to send a text message to the nearest police station and selected family members. It includes a GPS so the message can include an accurate location. But that's not all. The wearer can also activate a camera to record 30 minutes of video. It's an interesting idea, but women's rights activists are sceptical that the device alone will make any difference when police responses to reports of sexual assault are slow or nonexistent. And those committing an assault will probably remove and destroy the watch as their first act anyway.

ARROWS AWAY: The uWand from Philips is a new kind of remote for a smart TV. Rather than pressing buttons to navigate items on screen the uWand remote lets you point at an item you want to select or flick your wrist to scroll. A small camera in the device distinguishes what the remote is pointing at and sends the coordinates directly to the TV. No more arrow keys, hooray.

MOVIES BY THE CUP: There's always more data and always more desire to store it, but hard drives and other physical media too quickly run out of space. So researchers at the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute have set off on a new data storage path: encoding files into DNA. They say they can store 100 million hours of high-definition video in around a cup of DNA. Some benefits of DNA are that it's long-lasting, incredibly small, dense and doesn't need power for storage. They've created algorithms for encoding files that avoid errors, and were successful in both encoding and decoding works including an MP3, a PDF, a JPG and a plain text file. So how many scifi stories are coming true now?

Miraz Jordan,

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