Video: Is Steve Durnin’s D-Drive the holy grail of infinitely variable transmissions?

Ready for a bit of a mental mechanical challenge? Try your hand at understanding how the D-Drive works. Steve Durnin's ingenious new gearbox design is infinitely variable – that is, with your motor running at a constant speed, the D-Drive transmission can smoothly transition from top gear all the way through neutral and into reverse. It doesn't need a clutch, it doesn't use any friction drive components, and the power is always transmitted through strong, reliable gear teeth. In fact, it's a potential revolution in transmission technology – it could be pretty much the holy grail of gearboxes… if only it wasn't so diabolically hard to explain. We flew to Australia's Gold Coast to take a close look at the D-Drive – and it looks to us like Durnin has pulled a rabbit out of his hat. Check out the video after the jump and see if you can work out if there's a catch.

via Video: Is Steve Durnin’s D-Drive the holy grail of infinitely variable transmissions?.

The Recent Future / May 15, 2010 / Tech / 0 Comments

With Lasers and Flyovers, a Solar Map of New York

While most residents were sleeping, a twin-engine Shrike Commander flew serial missions over the city recently, cruising low like Superman and back and forth like a lawn mower. Equipped with a laser system, the plane collected highly precise images of the city, its rooftops, trees, wetlands and much of what lies in between.

The early morning flyovers are expected to yield the most detailed three-dimensional picture of New York City to date, with an emphasis on structures, elevations, sun and shade, and nooks and crannies relevant to the city’s emergency response system and its environmental goals.

The data will be used, among other things, to create up-to-date maps of the areas most prone to flooding, the buildings best suited for the installation of solar power and the neighborhoods most in need of trees. An advisory panel of experts formed by the mayor has warned that the city must prepare for more rain and an increased risk of coastal flooding in the coming decades as a result of global climate change.

via With Lasers and Flyovers, a Solar Map of New York – NYTimes.com.

The Recent Future / May 10, 2010 / Tech / 0 Comments

US Navy Wants to Field Cyber-Attack System

In 2018, the U.S. Navy hopes to take a major step toward fielding a cyber-attack system on a tactically survivable, fighter-size aircraft.

Although researchers are cautious about discussing their cyberwarfare and electronic attack projects, one company states that it is “developing a weapon system that can deliver cyber-effects through free space into an aperture.”

That opaque explanation refers to a cyber-weapon, sized for a tactical aircraft or UAV, that can create a long-range data stream — most likely from an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) emitter. The emitter will function both as radar and the source of these uniquely tailored data streams that could be used for electronic attack and cyber-invasion.

The data beams would be packed with specialized waveforms and algorithms that work like keys to open networks. They would be manufactured by an exciter or techniques generator that functions as part of the radar. The beam is fired into an antenna that electronic surveillance indicates is attached to the target network. It could connect an air defense system, a command-and-control center or a flight of aircraft.

via US Navy Wants to Field Cyber-Attack System.

The Recent Future / April 3, 2010 / Star Trek Did It!, Tech / 0 Comments

Star Trek-style force-field armour being developed by military scientists

The new type of armour will use pulses of electrical energy to repel rockets, shrapnel and other ammunition that might damage a vehicle.

Researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which is the research and development arm of the Ministry of Defence, claim it is possible to incorporate material known as supercapacitors into armour of a vehicle to turn it into a kind of giant battery.

When a threat from incoming fire is detected by the vehicle, the energy stored in the supercapacitor can be rapidly dumped onto the metal plating on the outside of the vehicle, producing a strong electromagnetic field.

Scientists behind the project claim this would produce a momentary “force field” capable of repelling the incoming rounds and projectiles.

via Star Trek-style force-field armour being developed by military scientists – Telegraph.

The Recent Future / March 26, 2010 / SciFi, Star Trek Did It!, Tech / 0 Comments

Mark Roth Has Key to Suspended Animation, Closer To Immortality

As anyone who reads science fiction will tell you, suspended animation is where your body is put into a state of preservation, not really living, but not dead either. It’s like a chemically induced version of hibernation, and it could help you stay alive on the way to a hospital after getting seriously hurt. Mark Roth was part of a larger DARPA initiative to extend soldier survivability after injury on the battlefield. From that research, Roth discovered that hydrogen sulfide (H2S), in small quantities, would put mammals in what was essentially a state of suspended animation. Hydrogen sulfide is toxic (it was used in chemical warfare in WWI) but in the right doses it can actively bond to oxygen receptors in your body. Replacing the need for oxygen allows mammals to lower their metabolic rates to absurdly low levels, but once the H2S is removed animals recover without any nasty side effects. Roth has found then what seems to be the perfect formula for keeping people alive after trauma. His newly formed company, Ikaria, is currently in phase II clinical trials for a liquid hydrogen sulfide product. In just a few years, suspended animation may be a common tool in hospitals and trauma centers all over the world. It almost sounds too incredible to believe. Watch Roth give an enthusiastic and really enjoyable talk at TED 2010 in the video below that explains his work and its amazing potential.

via Mark Roth Has Key to Suspended Animation, Closer To Immortality | Singularity Hub.

The Recent Future / March 24, 2010 / Health, SciFi / 0 Comments

This Is the Future of the Fight Against Cancer

Look close. You may be staring at the end of cancer. Those tiny black dots are nanobots delivering a lethal blow to a cancerous cell, effectively killing it. The first trial on humans have been a success, with no side-effects:

It sneaks in, evades the immune system, delivers the siRNA, and the disassembled components exit out.

Those are the words of Mark Davis, head of the research team that created the nanobot anti-cancer army at the California Institute of Technology. According to a study to be published in Nature, Davis’ team has discovered a clean, safe way to deliver RNAi sequences to cancerous cells. RNAi (Ribonucleic acid interference) is a technique that attacks specific genes in malign cells, disabling functions inside and killing them.

via This Is the Future of the Fight Against Cancer – Nanobots – Gizmodo.

The Recent Future / March 24, 2010 / Health, SciFi / 0 Comments

Learn to Fly a Jetpack. Yes, a Jetpack!

I figured when I wrote about flying cars last year that it would only be a matter of time before I got to write about…jetpacks! OK, I had no idea I was going to be writing about jetpacks because I had long believed they were but a figment of a weak, collective, futuristic imagination. Indeed, while flying cars were inevitable, jetpacks…well, you’d have to be a compete idiot. Unless you’re the Martin Aircraft Company of New Zealand. Which has created a working jetpack.

And is now inviting anyone over 18 with a valid driver’s license to join its “test squadron.” (Catch: You will need to go to New Zealand. And that age-limit seems solid, even though, as the video below attests, the 15-year-old son of Martin Aircraft’s founders has been allowed behind the controls.) Mind you, this isn’t the jetpack of sci-fi yesteryear. It’s not even jet powered. Instead, it features rotor blades driven by a V4 engine, so it’s actually more of a heli-pack. And it’s kinda…large, if your visions of jetpacks are formed by the type of units seen in movies from the Star Wars series.

via Learn to Fly a Jetpack. Yes, a Jetpack! | The Big Money.

The Recent Future / March 9, 2010 / SciFi, Tech / 0 Comments

Exclusive: Colorado Doctors Skirt FDA Jurisdiction to Provide Stem Cell Therapies

The FDA has yet to approve stem cell therapies for general use in medicine, but that hasn’t stopped doctors in Colorado from providing them anyway. Chris Centeno and John Schultz have boldly formed Regenerative Sciences Inc. in Broomfield, Colorado. RSI provides its patients with the Regenexx procedure, an adult stem cell transplant that uses your own cells (autologous) to treat joint injuries and bone damage. There’s no surgery needed. A needle extracts bone marrow, RSI isolates the stem cells and cultures them in your own blood, and then these cells are injected into the area where they are needed. They’ve treated 348+ patients with 800+ injections and show no signs of slowing down. According to RSI’s own surveys, 89% of their knee patients showed marked improvement, as did 75% of their hip patients! Within months some patients can walk or run in ways they haven’t been able to in years. We’ve seen these kinds of results from stem cell treatments before, but only in horses and dogs. That’s because human stem cell therapies like this one aren’t approved by the FDA. How can Centeno and Schultz flaunt the lack of federal approval? They claim that Regenexx is solely used as a part of their medical practice, only within the state of Colorado, and as such is no more regulated by the FDA than it would be by the FAA or the Department of Motor Vehicles. I had a chance to talk with Dr. Centeno over the phone and learn more about Regenexx and RSI. For hundreds of patients, he and his team are providing a remarkable hope. They’ve brought lab-cultured medical stem cell therapies to the US. Finally.

via Exclusive: Colorado Doctors Skirt FDA Jurisdiction to Provide Stem Cell Therapies | Singularity Hub.

The Recent Future / March 9, 2010 / Health / 0 Comments

‘Auspicious Buddhist flower’ blooms in China after 3000 yrs

A Chinese nun has found an Udumbara flower, which Buddhist legend holds blossoms every 3,000 years, growing under her washing machine.

The flower was found in the home of a Chinese nun in Lushan Mountain in Jiangxi province.

The Udumbara – apparently Sanskrit for an auspicious flower from heaven’ – measures just 1 mm in diameter and is said to find mentions in Buddhist mythology on account of its supposed rarity.

The newspaper said Miao Wei, 50, discovered the white flower under her washing machine.

Auspicious Buddhist flower’ blooms in China after 3000 yrs.

The Recent Future / March 8, 2010 / Nature / 0 Comments

Stem Cell Transplant Defeats HIV? Patient Still HIV Free After 2 Years

Add one more name to the ever growing list of diseases that have been defeated by stem cell treatments: HIV. That’s right, according to a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine, a stem cell transplant performed in Germany has unexpectedly removed all signs of HIV from a 42 year old American patient. The unnamed white male was treated two years ago for Leukemia with a dose of donor stem cells and his HIV RNA count has dropped to zero and remained there since. While the treatment was for Leukemia, Dr. Gero Hutter and colleagues at the Charite Universitatsmedizen in Berlin had selected the stem cell donor for his HIV resistant genes. While there are still many questions unanswered, this is the first such case of stem cells treating HIV that has been reported in a NEJM-caliber publication. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a “cure” for HIV/AIDS, but it is certainly a remarkable and promising find. There’s more you need to know about the situation, so read on.

Like so many instances of “miraculous medicine”, this case has its complexities. First, the patient was being treated for Leukemia, not HIV. The patient had been HIV positive for ten years before the first stem cell treatment. His HIV medication was actually treating his condition fairly well, and it wasn’t until a round of chemotherapy (for the Leukemia) raised his HIV count that it looked to be troublesome. The original transplant from two years ago may have dropped his HIV count, but his Leukemia returned a year later. Another dose of stem cells was given and this seems to have treated the cancer as well as maintain its effect on the HIV.

Secondly, their’s the DNA of the donor to consider. Due to a genetic mutation (CCR5), the donor has a resistance to the HIV virus. Such resistance occurs in 1-3% of white males of European descent. Furthermore, while a single copy of this CCR5 gene can grant some resistance to HIV, the donor had two copies, which often leads to a good chance of full resistance to the virus. Dr. Hutter and colleagues were fully aware of the CCR5 in the donor when selecting him.

Stem Cell Transplant Defeats HIV? Patient Still HIV Free After 2 Years | Singularity Hub.

The Recent Future / February 27, 2010 / Health / 0 Comments