0

Smell You Later! Scented Messaging Is Here

fb share tweet share

paris hotspotJust when you thought people couldn’t possibly spend more time on their phones, a startup in Cambridge (of course) has come up with a way to add a little more dimension to messages by integrating them with scents.

Want friends to salivate over the garlic shrimp you’re about to devour, or your super-sized steaming mug of joe? A new iPhone app called oSnap allows users to attach scents to photos. oSnap is currently available for free download from the Apple App Store. The app allows people to take and make oNotes, which are photos, texts, and audio files that are tagged with scents and then shared. Much like tagging in Facebook, a user can click anywhere on the screen and add one of the various “confection” (butter, caramel, brown sugar, etc.) or “plantation” scents (balsamic, cocoa bean, yogurt). At the moment, it seems that people need a Facebook account to use the app, which already has people complaining, but that may change. The “aroma vocabularies” will increase, and developer Vapor Communications will continue expanding the available options.

0

How To Make Drones Scarier: Give Them Pepper Spray

fb share tweet share

skunkPublic embarrassment isn’t enough to dissuade me from telling the story of my only experience with pepper spray. I was an undergrad at the University of Michigan, and after hearing about a rise in sexual assaults on campus, my cousin Paul gave me some pepper spray. I figured I’d never use it, but it couldn’t hurt to have just in case. One day a few weeks later, I was on the phone with my boyfriend, and I came across the pepper spray in a drawer. I began fiddling with it — apparently our conversation was less than riveting — and then I gave it a test spray. Now, I did spray it away from me, but I also happened to spray it straight into the window fan, which blew it back into my face instantly. I’m sure my boyfriend was confused when I started yelling and crying. My face got all puffy, and nothing could mitigate the sting for about an hour. This is when I decided pepper spray was extremely effective, and that I should never touch it again. So it’s with no small amount of horror that I’m reporting on a new drone that can fire “bullets” of pepper spray.

0

UK Bans Teaching Creationism As Science In Schools

fb share tweet share

evolutionI had to read the headline twice, because at first I was afraid they had it backward: schools in the UK are now banned from teaching creationism as science. The fine print: this applies to existing and future “free” schools or academies, which means state-funded academies, which function much like charter schools do here, as well as state-funded free schools that operate independently and are often set up by non-profit organizations. That means private and parochial schools can keep teaching creationism, but everyone else is mandated to “provide a broad and balanced curriculum,” which “prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory.”

Creationism isn’t science, but has been masquerading as such for a long, long time. Some of us who went to school in the U.S. might remember learning about the Scopes Monkey Trial, in which a teacher named John Scopes was found guilty and fined for teaching evolution in a Tennessee high school. The trial was a big deal for a few reasons, namely putting the modernist v. fundamentalist debate front and center, raising the question of whether evolution and religion could be compatible, and whether the Bible superseded all other knowledge. The case was also famous for pitting William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow in the courtroom. Scopes was found guilty and had to pay a $100 fine, but he later won on a technical appeal. The law Scopes broke was called the Butler Law, the first anti-evolution education legislation, and the ACLU backed Scopes when he got busted for teaching from the textbook Civic Biology, which described evolution. You can learn all you need to know about the trial via Drunk History (below).

0

SpaceX Wants To Put People On Mars Before NASA Does

fb share tweet share

manned_mission_to_MarsThe race to Mars is on. And by race I mean “painfully slow planning and plodding.” Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Putting people on Mars is no small feat — the journey itself is 7-8 months long (please tell me the astronauts will have Netflix!) and the astronauts will be subject to radiation the whole way. And then there’s everything that has to happen once we land, although I think a smart mission would involve sending robots ahead of time to set up some infrastructure. But more than anything, there’s the funding. It’s true that the House recently passed a reauthorization bill that supports manned Mars missions, but it’s unclear how much that will help, and to say that the price tag of such a mission is prohibitive would be an understatement. Still, despite all these obstacles, we humans are committed to spreading our species to another planet. The question is, who will be the first to do it? Will it be Mars One, the Dutch non-profit that’s currently whittling down a field of over 200,000 candidates for a Mars landing in 2025? Will it be NASA, with or without the help of other countries? Or will it be SpaceX, the renegades of the private space technology sector? Elon Musk is betting on the latter.

0

These Robots Have Origami Wheels That Can Change Shape

fb share tweet share

wheelI was never very good at making paper airplanes, but I’ve always had a thing for origami. My brain and my hands don’t seem to be naturally inclined toward the strategic folding of papers into three-dimensional shapes — although in elementary school I did master the art of making the fortune teller, otherwise known as the cootie catcher. Now that origami is being integrated into robotics, its geek cred has skyrocketed and I might need to give it another go.

It makes sense if you think about it. Turning two-dimensional materials into a three-dimensional shape that can actually do something is a process perfectly suited for robotics, particularly for their wheels, as demonstrated by a couple of research groups who presented at this month’s IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

1

Tesla Model X On Track For 2015 And Its Patent Belongs To Us

fb share tweet share

tesla model xI’m so obsessed with SpaceX that sometimes I forget Elon Musk has another company (or six) to run. Tesla Motor Company is no slouch — despite a couple pesky fires, the Tesla Model S electric car is generally regarded as one of the safest and greenest vehicles around. And the next generation is coming — Tesla recently announced that its Model X will be available next year.

Customers have been putting down deposits of anywhere from $5,000-$40,000 for Model X for a couple of years, and initially it was scheduled to be in production by late last year. The delay arose when Tesla decided to focus on expanding sales of the Model S to Europe and Asia. But the wait seems to have been worth it, as the Model X looks pretty spiffy, and not much more expensive than the Model S. For me, the rear seat “falcon wings” are a big sell — who wouldn’t want to pretend they’re stepping into a time machine when getting into a car? Sure, that makes putting stuff on the roof pretty tough, but that’s what the optional third row of seats is for. The Model X also has two motors and four-wheel drive, and its battery pack will resemble that of the Model S, which ranges from 208-265 miles.