Tech Universe: Friday 1 February

By Miraz Jordan

Spanish researchers have created a computer system that quickly determines the age and gender of a corpse. Photo / AP
Spanish researchers have created a computer system that quickly determines the age and gender of a corpse. Photo / AP

64 SHADES OF GREY: Spanish researchers have created a computer system that quickly determines the age and gender of a corpse with 95% reliability. First they image specific sections of the pubis of the corpse. Then the different shades of grey in a histogram are analysed by free software to indicate age and gender. It's the shades of grey in the histogram that are important: the human eye can recognise only 64, but the software has a much greater capacity to identify differences. It's never just black and white, is it.

SPRAY AWAY: In Australia McDonald's fast food outlets may be seen as a soft target by robbers, but they're getting tough. A security system in stores douses fleeing robbers with an invisible, synthetic DNA spray and a UV tracer. The synthetic DNA contains unique codes that can link a particular person with a particular crime scene. Traces of the DNA solution remain on the skin, hair and clothing for weeks, clinging to fibres and sitting in creases of the skin.

The spray has a strong deterrent effect if notices are placed in the stores that use it. The spray system has been fitted in all 181 branches of the Bank of New Zealand. It's like the dye in banknotes, but invisible and personalised.

SPEEDY STREET: The Hennessey Venom GT is a production car with a special feature: it's the fastest production car in the world. That's probably thanks to the 1,244 horsepower Corvette engine. The street-legal car contains a 7.0 litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine and did zero to 300 Kph in an average of 13.63 seconds over two runs in front of a Guinness World Record judge. Hennessey plan to build only 29 of the cars and each will sell for more than $1 million. It's fab it can go so fast, but where are you going to drive at that speed on the street?

PUSHME PULLYOU: Researchers at the University of St Andrews can selectively draw in microscopic particles with light alone, so of course they're calling it a tractor beam. But your starships are safe for now: the procedure is most likely to be used for medical applications, such as separating white blood cells. Generally light exerts a pushing force on objects, but the team have worked out how to reverse that force so it attracts objects instead. If they can turn a push into a pull they should be able to turn a profit too.

THE BIG CLEAN: Texas is the land of the big, so of course they have the world's largest battery power storage system. The 36 megawatt energy storage and management facility is linked to the Notrees Windpower wind farm in the western part of the state. The system uses thousands of 12 volt, 1 kWh, dry cell batteries based on alloys including copper, lead and tellurium. Along with storing energy like a regular battery it can quickly stop and start as a capacitor does. The company has a recovery system in place to recycle materials in the batteries. Thinking ahead: obviously another strong point.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 25 Jul 2014 05:47:56 Processing Time: 156ms