Lately we’ve covered a lot of wearable technology, from pretty smart to kind of stupid. Dutch designer Boore Akkersdijk takes issue with the term—he insists that it’s really “carry-able technology,” not wearable technology. He’s referring to all the clip-on devices we have, like Google Glass and smart trainers. So he decided to make what he deems a truly wearable piece of technology. The BB Suit, which looks a little bit like the Dude’s bathrobe, allows the wearer not just to connect to Wi-Fi but to be Wi-Fi.
The Bagger 288, also known as the Excavator 288, is the largest land vehicle in the world. Somehow, I hadn’t heard of it until now—probably because it’s hanging out in Germany, where it was built by Krupp AG, one of the biggest steel and arms manufacturers in the world through World War II when it then switched to making industrial machinery. The Bagger was completed in 1978, and surpassed NASA’s Crawler-Transporter as the most massive terrestrial vehicle known to man, weighing in at 13,500 tons. Here’s the real thing, which inspired a music video that will leave you scratching your heads, it also features a bunch of animals head banging to its sheer awesomeness.
Remember the London skyscraper that got so hot in the sun that it started melting cars? Clearly that was a major design flaw, but suffice it to say that these tall buildings take in a lot of sunlight and can heat up fast. New York architecture firm REX has come up with an ingenious way to solve this problem, while also designing a skyscraper that makes a statement. Their secret? Umbrellas.
I teach, think, and write a lot about the technology of the future, and the implications of that technology. I often worry that people accept the evils of technology without thinking carefully enough about it — i.e., spying, other privacy invasions, and hacking — and that Aldous Huxley’s fear that we’ll be “caught by surprise by our advancing technology” will indeed come to fruition. But recent Pew research indicates that Americans might be a little more skeptical about futuristic technology than I thought.
Just as we’ve experienced great technological leaps in the past few decades, we’ll continue to advance technologically at breakneck, if not exponential, speed. The Pew Research Center wanted to see how Americans feel about what’s coming down the pike, and what technologies they predict will actually come to fruition in the next 50 years. Their research shows that 59% of respondents believe the coming technology will impact society in a positive way. I’m not sure if that number indicates optimism or naivete, or perhaps a little bit of both. Thirty percent of respondents think the coming technological changes will make life worse. Are they pessimists or Luddites? Maybe a bit of both.
You may be familiar with the concept of railguns. They play a big part in a number of popular video games, but as far as real world applications, views have been rather limited. Until now. This video shows the latest incarnation of the much-hyped weapon just blowing the holy hell out of all sorts of stuff, and it is pretty awesome, and potentially the future of military weapons technology.
On a conceptual level, railguns sound pretty simple. Powered by electricity, they launch a projectile a at speeds exceeding mach 7, which, believe it or not, is not an easy thing to accomplish. A new article in Foreign Policy details the development. Because of the various hurdles, many in the military industrial complex have doubted that the weapons will ever become practical and widespread, but that view seems to be changing.
A team of scientists from Norwich, UK’s John Innes Centre published research in PLOS Biology that describes how phytoplasmas, parasitic bacteria that wreak havoc on the likes of sugarcane and coconut, take over plants and make them do all sorts of things they otherwise wouldn’t. Flowers become shoots, petals change color, and the plant sends up the telltale “witches’ broom” shoots. As the parasite takes hold, the host becomes incapable of reproducing. Insects descend on these new shoots, transmitting the bacteria to make new zombies. They don’t even have to bite anything. The report points out that for all intents and purposes, the plant is dead, living on bacterial life support.