I'm not a skier so imagine that an ideal ski has a smooth flat bottom. Not so with the Spoon ski from DPS. Their new ski has a convex base and 6 downward-facing 'cleats' that protrude to add grip in deep powder. The makers mention massive flotation, nimble handling, and huge sprays. I'm not sure how flotation and grip go together, but if you're a deep powder skier these may be worth a look.

has details and there's video



LIFE VEST PATCH: If you're dumped into the ocean unexpectedly a life vest could save your life, but rescuers need to be able to find you. That's where the Finns come in — they've designed a search and rescue radio antenna that can be sewn into a life vest. The antenna's designed for use with the Cospas-Sarsat worldwide search and rescue satellite system and could help pinpoint the wearer within minutes.
The flexible and lightweight antenna is robust against water exposure and moist conditions, and resistant to wear and tear. Surely the antenna could be used for land-based safety equipment too, such as for mountaineers. Read more at the European Space Agency website.

CELL JACKET: NTT Docomo in Japan are working on a cellphone 'jacket' that could charge the phone's battery in only 10 minutes. An external lithium-ion battery sleeve draws more than 5 amps for the speedy charge. That compares with a normal ultra high speed charger drawing around 0.5 amps. If it could give a 10 minute recharge to any phone it could be a big seller. Details at Engadget.

CLEAR SOLAR: Solar cells need a transparent conductor layer that allows light to pass into the cell and electricity to pass out. That's a tough ask and the indium tin oxide used now is not only rare but brittle. Researchers at Northwestern University have an alternative: single-walled metallic carbon nanotubes. These nanotubes are flexible and carbon's plentiful. Using these carbon nanotubes could make it easier to incorporate cheap solar cells into clothing and everyday objects. The day must come where solar cells are as plentiful as paper. More at Science Daily.

BLOOD STAMPS: People with AIDS who take powerful drugs are at risk of liver damage and death. This is a particular problem in Africa as the blood tests take time and are expensive. A Harvard University chemist has created a specially prepared patch of paper the size of a postage stamp that offers a fairly reliable diagnosis, and costs only a few cents. The enzyme AST is released into the blood when liver cells break down. A drop of blood is put on the paper. The layers of paper filter the blood to allow clear plasma through to chemicals that react with ASTand then change colour. After 15 minutes a dot in the centre of the paper stays pink or turns purple, indicating a problem. Pink or purple huh? They're not always simple to tell apart. More at New York Times.

- Miraz Jordan