Tech Universe: Monday 17 February

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

HELMET HEAD: Fancy a bit of underwater touring? The Aqua Star underwater scooter could be the thing. The battery powered vehicle can carry 2 people for up to 2.5 hours at a speed of 5 Kph. Dual engines allow for both vertical and horizontal movement at the same time — it can dive down to 12 metres. The vehicle includes scuba tanks and a built-in helmet, providing up to 70 minutes of oxygen. Would you really want to be the pillion passenger underwater?

SLIDING SPEED: Checking biopsy samples for signs of cancer is labour intensive and time consuming, especially if you include the time and effort of preparing slides for study under a microscope. Researchers at University of Washington developed a prototype microfluidic device to make the process easier. The prototype can perform the basic steps for processing a biopsy, using fluid transport to process the tissue and keeping the original tissue biopsy intact to produce a 3D image.

The device is only in its early stages, but in future may allow for a cancer diagnosis within minutes.

ROBOT, WHERE ART THOU?: If you've ever queued for hours to get into a museum or art gallery only to spend the next hour pushing through crowds and trying to see over heads you may appreciate the Tate Britain gallery's new robot viewing programme. After Dark is an online experience that allows people all over the world to explore Tate Britain at night. Robots will travel around the galleries at night, controlled by viewers via a web site. Viewers will be able to chat with others online at the same time, making the visit a shared experience, though they may still have to queue to control the robot. At least you'll be queuing in the comfort of your own home.

CROWDS OF SCIENCE: People with great ideas for gadgets use sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to get the general public to fund them. But what about science? Not to be left out, the Experiment site handles crowdfunding for science. With projects such as Using Genetic Techniques to Protect Fiji's Fisheries and Are microbes melting the Greenland ice sheet? and fields as diverse as palaeontology, engineering and education there's probably something to interest most folks. If you're a scientist and you know it, click the mouse.

BRIGHT LIGHTS: The Czech Republic is soon to be home to the High Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System. The high power laser will deliver peak powers greater than one petawatt (1,000,000,000,000,000 watts) at a repetition rate of 10 Hz, with each pulse lasting less than 30 femtoseconds, or 0.00000000000003 seconds. This will make possible scientific research in areas such as medical imaging, particle acceleration, biophysics, chemistry and quantum physics. Rocket science is so mundane these days.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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