TWIE 155: Fingertip Speaker

This Week in Engineering - Costa Concordia salvage; autonomous mining trucks; fingertip speaker; anti-terrorist ray gun; world's thinnest glass; and tumor-eating robot maggots.

Costa Concordia salvage
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/costa-concordia-salvage-underway-after-delay-due-to-lightning-storm/article14332383/
http://news.discovery.com/history/rotating-the-concordia-wreck-130913.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1

Autonomous mining trucks
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/6314/The-Mine-of-the-Future.aspx
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-09/mining-company-uses-robotic-trucks

Fingertip speaker
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-09/microphone-turns-your-finger-speaker
http://news.discovery.com/tech/gear-and-gadgets/whisper-secrets-through-your-fingers-not-lips-131011.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1
http://www.disneyresearch.com/project/ishin-den-shin/

Anti-terrorist ray gun
http://youtu.be/56veH8-KbEM
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-09/nato-tests-anti-suicide-bomber-beam
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10303988/Golden-Eye-style-energy-beam-is-developed-by-Nato-scientists.html

World’s thinnest glass
http://news.discovery.com/tech/nanotechnology/worlds-thinnest-glass-accident-131912.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1

Tumor-eating robot maggots
http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/6334/Tumor-Sucking-Robo-Worm.aspx
http://news.discovery.com/tech/robotics/maggot-like-robot-eats-brain-tumors-130910.htm#mkcpgn=rssnws1
http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-09/robo-maggots-will-munch-through-brain-tumors


blog comments powered by Disqus
Recent Video
Transcript For This Video

Costa Concordia salvage
As of recording time, the salvage operation of the Costa Concordia cruise liner is still underway, though the ship is now past the tipping point of 25 degrees, meaning that gravity is now pulling the ship upright.  A joint effort of American company Titan Salvage and Italian marine firm Micoperi, the ship is being righted 20 months after the 114,500-ton ship capsized in an accident that claimed 32 lives in all.  Once the ship is upright, a priority of the salvage operation will be to recover the two missing bodies that are likely still inside.  The project is considered the largest salvage operation in history.

Autonomous mining trucks
The Rio Tinto Iron Ore company has deployed the Autonomous Hauling System -- a fleet of trucks capable of loading, hauling and dumping raw iron ore from open pit mines without a human driver.  The trucks navigate with a very precise GPS, working a mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, while being controlled remotely from corporate headquarters in Perth, 930 miles away.  When a truck starts, it is assigned a path and actions to perform at its destination.  While the new trucks have no drivers, the company still employs human remote operators, as well as surveying and inspection at the mine.  I say, let’s just not let all those heavy construction robots combine to become Devastator.

Fingertip speaker
Disney Research has unveiled a new microphone that can record messages to be played back when the holder touches a listener’s ear.  Named Ishin-Den-Shin after the Japanese term for “tacit understanding”, the microphone translates recorded sound waves into a high-voltage low-current signal which can propagate through one or more bodies.  When a finger touches the listener’s ear, the finger and ear combination becomes a small speaker that essentially whispers the recorded message.  Music from fingertip voltage? Hey, I think the Emperor was just trying to play Luke his mix tape.

Anti-terrorist ray gun
Scientists with NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, teaming up with defence company Diehl, have developed a non-lethal energy weapon capable of disabling a car or other electronic devices used by suicide bombers.  A released video shows test firings of the weapon shutting down the engines of a moving car, a jetski and a drone.  While details about the device are secret, it is believed to use microwave energy to create voltage spikes in electronic circuitry.  In addition to shutting down engines, the beam would also jam radio signals used to remotely detonate bombs.  The device could give soldiers at checkpoints a non-lethal option against cars speeding towards them.

World’s thinnest glass
Researchers from Cornell University and the University of Ulm in Germany were creating graphene -- sheets of carbon one atom thick -- and accidentally created a two-dimensional sheet of glass on top that was just two atoms thick, which was awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records as the thinnest glass ever created.  The glass was most likely created when an air leak caused copper foils to react with a furnace made of quartz, which contains both silicon and oxygen, just like glass.  The researchers used an electron microscope to capture an image of the glass’s atomic lattice.  I’ve heard of opera singers that can break a glass.  Maybe now we can create a glass thin enough to shatter at the sound of Johnny Cash introducing himself.

Tumor-eating robot maggots
Researchers from the University of Maryland Robotics Center have developed a neurosurgical robot with movement inspired by maggots.  In conventional neurosurgery, a doctor uses the patient’s MRI to lo