Tech Universe: Monday 4 February

By Miraz Jordan

There are only 7 northern white rhinos left in the world. Photo / Thinkstock
There are only 7 northern white rhinos left in the world. Photo / Thinkstock

DRONE ON THE RANGE: There are only 7 northern white rhinos left in the world and 4 of them live in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Protecting them and the other rhinos, elephants, leopards and other animals in the reserve is a particularly hard job for the 190 rangers.

Game poaching rates are soaring and the conservancy covers more than 36,000 hectares. Now the conservationists have raised enough money to buy a drone to help with their efforts. The electric drone will be fitted with a high-definition camera with zoom for daytime and infrared thermal imaging for nights. Each 90 minute mission should cover about 130 square kilometres while the drone sends a live stream of images back to base, providing a deterrent to potential poachers.

The rangers also hope to fit animals with unique radio frequency ID tags the drones will be able to track. It's sad that such measures are necessary to protect these vulnerable animals.

TINY BUT FAST: Need some hydrogen right now for your fuel cell? For hydrogen in a flash you just need some spherical silicon particles about 10 nanometers in diameter and a little water. The combination forms non-toxic silicic acid and hydrogen anywhere between 150 and 1,000 times faster than do silicon in bulk or in particles 100 nanometers wide. In tests the 10 nanometer particles yielded more hydrogen in less than 60 seconds than the 100 nanometer particles yielded in 45 minutes. The smaller particles are more expensive to produce but could be useful where speed and portability are more important than cost. Be nice to refuel your car at the nearest river too.

WATER HOLE: Current low-flow shower heads may reduce both water flow and pressure. But if you like a powerful shower perhaps the shower head that produces hollow drops may be for you. Felton's Oxijet nozzle creates the feeling of a full pressure shower, using only half the water. The nozzle pulls air into the water stream making the droplets hollow and expanding the volume of the shower stream. The aerator insert allows the device to work with existing showers already installed and can be fitted to most existing shower heads. So really you're showering in air with a bit of water on the side.

BALANCED SCOPE: NASA and the European Space Agency aim to map and measure some 2 billion galaxies with a new telescope. The data will also help scientists map dark matter and understand the role of dark energy in the Universe's evolution. The Euclid mission will begin in 2020 with putting a telescope into orbit at the Earth and Sun's Lagrange point L2, where the gravitational pull is balanced. For 6 years Euclid will map galaxies across about a third of the sky. It all sounds very geometric.

SKI SHOCK: Giro's Combyn Helmet is designed to take multiple hits but still protect your head while you ski or snowboard. The soft-shell helmet flexes and bends under pressure then pops back to its original shape. Two layers of foam lining absorb the shock from high and low energy impacts. Look after the head, folks.

Miraz Jordan,

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