A space telescope's mirror array, a liquid scanner at airports, and a body-mounted video camera are among the tools for examining what's around us
These six hexagons represent one-third of the primary mirror array that will allow the James Webb Space Telescope to capture images of objects in the deep reaches of space. The mirrors are being prepped for cryogenic testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to ensure that they can stand up to the subzero temperatures they’ll be exposed to in space.
Photo: David Higginbotham/NASA/Redux
To foil attempts to bring explosives onto commercial airlines, aviation authorities have instituted rules that make all but the tiniest bottles of shampoo, hand sanitizer, and baby formula contraband. But new liquid scanners that use magnetic fields to classify containers’ contents as safe or hazardous—like this one at the Berlin-Schönefeld Airport—may allow travelers to bring their favorite beverages on board.
Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters
More proof that computers are only as smart as we make them comes from Nuits-Saint-Georges, France, where Gérard Chaussée received a phone bill totaling US $1.02 billion. Even if he’d been paying $1 per minute, to rack up those charges Chaussée would have had to place an unending call more than 1800 years before the telephone was invented.
Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images
The Vievu PVR-LE2 body-mounted video camera now worn by officers with the Bainbridge Island, Wash., police department has 4 gigabytes of internal memory—enough to capture 4 hours of video with 640- by 480-pixel resolution. But turning the US $900 device on during, say, a traffic stop is not mandatory. Also, the system where the downloaded video is stored automatically dumps any footage after 30 days, unless it is flagged.
Photo: Josh Farley/AP Photo
Chinese firms are often accused of intellectual property violations, but this 8-megabyte phase-change RAM chip is a genuine Chinese innovation. The chip was developed jointly by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., and Microchip Technology.
Photo: Liu Ying/Xinhua/eyevine/Redux
Players, referees, and fans of soccer say “the beautiful game” is being marred by players who pretend to be struck by opponents in order to draw foul calls. To end the unsportsmanlike practice, known as taking a dive, engineers have developed antidiving shin pads. Each contains a proximity sensor and an impact sensor; when both are set off, the system automatically calls a foul. The pads are even smart enough to tell a real foul from a player kicking himself in the shin.
Photo: Rex Features/AP Photo
Billionaire adventurer Richard Branson’s latest quest is to go deeper into the depths of the ocean than anyone else. To that end, he has commissioned a vessel he calls the Virgin Oceanic Submarine. This is an artist’s rendering of the submarine as it might look while plunging to the bottom of the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic.
Photo:Image: Rex Features/AP Photo
The U.S. Army uses an MV-4 remotely controlled mine clearance vehicle manufactured by DOK-ING, a Croatian company that specializes in unmanned vehicles, to search for improvised explosive devices in Helmand province, Afghanistan. The ruggedized front loader can clear up to 2200 square meters per hour.
Photo: Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images
A staffer at the Centre for Food Safety in Hong Kong scans vegetables imported from Japan to verify that they have not been contaminated by radiation emitted by the reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The Hong Kong government has done spot checks for radiation in Japanese food products since the day after an earthquake and tsunami set off a nuclear emergency.
Photo: Chen Xiaowei/Xinhua/eyevine/Redux
The electrodes attached to this woman’s thigh pick up signals that tell the avatar on the screen to flex its knee and ankle. The exercise is aimed at training a computer that will eventually control a robotic prosthesis to interpret the signals. Researchers at the Center for Bionic Medicine at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago will fit the amputee with the special prosthesis, which she will be able to manipulate with her thoughts.