TWIE 87: Super Mario Guide to the Louvre

This Week in Engineering - Hydrogen fuel cells in iPhones?; tallest humanoid robot ever; quantum dots glow on drug delivery; measuring extragalactic light; unscratchable gold; and Nintendo museum guide.

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Hydrogen fuel cells in iPhones?
Apple has recently filed two patent applications for using fuel cells to power a portable computing device, leading to speculation that future iPhones might be powered by hydrogen instead of batteries. Currently, fuel cells are too large, but they could potentially deliver very high energy density, both in terms of volume and weight. Of course, this is all speculation, based on patent applications. But I love the idea of a phone powered by hydrogen, and I want to call it the iHindenburg. That¦s exactly what I want placed tenderly in my front pocket.

Tallest humanoid robot ever
Japanese company Hajime Research Institute, maker of the seven-foot-tall robot called (Number Thirty-Three÷, is in the process of building an even larger robot at around thirteen feet, the tallest humanoid robot ever built. After that, they plan to build a twenty-six foot, followed by a fifty-nine foot robot. Japan, I like your moxie. But you¦re not supposed to build the biggest robot ever until you unwittingly create the largest lizard ever. What is he supposed to fight?

Quantum dots glow on drug delivery
Swadeshmukul Santra and his team from the University of Central Florida have proposed a new tool to speed up pharmaceutical testing, by using electronic quantum dots, or Qdots, that light up when a drug is delivered to cancer cells. Qdots have unique optical properties in their excited state, and when attached to a nanoparticle core and carrying a cancer-fighting STAT3 inhibitor, a researcher with a microscope can see excited Qdots and measure how much of the drug was delivered to a tumor, thus making drug testing much more efficient. I only hope there¦s a way we can use glowing quantum dots on finger cancer, so that we can go, (ooouch÷. (Glowing finger)

Measuring extragalactic light
Earth-bound telescopes have always had to deal with light pollution, but even orbiting telescopes like the Hubble have to contend with the so-called zodiacal glow, the light reflected by asteroid belt dust inside the solar system. Now, a team at NASA, JPL and Caltech has proposed a concept called ZEBRA, the Zodiacal dust, Extragalactic Background and Reionization Apparatus, which would take measurements beyond Jupiter¦s orbit, to differentiate zodiacal light from extragalactic background light. Personally, I prefer zodiac light, because I need advice about whether now is a good time to take chances or find a new romance. BTW, it¦s not.

Unscratchable gold
A research team from Switzerland¦s EPFL, along with Swiss watchmaker Hublot has created a very hard eighteen-karat gold composite, by combining pure gold with a very hard ceramic called boron carbide. The ceramic is heated to over thirty-six hundred degrees Fahrenheit to create structure, and then infiltrated with liquid gold. The resulting gold meets the eighteen-karat standard, but is unscratchable. Aw, man! They¦ve improved gold? And I already invested my inheritance in regular gold! Stupid AM radio and Fox News commercials.

Nintendo museum guide
The world¦s most-visited museum, the Louvre in Paris, will replace its electronic audio guides with five thousand Nintendo 3DS compact gaming consoles. Both the consoles and the software will be provided by Nintendo, with content edited by the museum. I just hope it will help tourists know when to jump over Louvre barrels, or help me find the secret white whistle chamber.