- Pick of the Week
- #10: Armadillo: the Adorable Killer
- #9: Blame Your Parents
- #8: Most Significant Post?
- #7: Hey Look, No Tech Stories
- #6: Professional Chicken Confusers
- #5: Bananas All The Way
- #4: Explaining the Japanese Quake
- #3: Google Cars and Zombie Ants
- #2: Breakthroughs and Blast-offs
- #1: Ants and Anti-Lasers
|#3: Google Cars and Zombie Ants|
|Tuesday, 08 March 2011 10:52|
Take a look at this car. Doesn't look like much, does it? Oh, it probably isn't a bad car by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also nothing more than an average, decent-sized city vehicle. Not, if we're honest, the kind of thing to turn heads.
Except... what are those wires poking out of the grille, there? And what could be the purpose of those black boxes to which they're attached, all bolted to the front where the license plate usually is?
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the world's first proper look at Google's driverless car, the most awesome/terrifying piece of tech (depending on your point of view) that the megacorporation has come up with so far. There's an article about it in Issue 8 -- which is up on this very website, right now! -- and now Google have let people film it in action. Click that link and prepare to marvel.
In other news, last week's cystic fibrosis story has been pretty decisively one-upped by a team who've successfully demonstrated a way to make white blood cells immune to HIV. We've known for a long time that there are very rare people who don't have a copy of the gene that HIV exploits to invade your immune system, but this is the first time we've successfully knocked out that gene in new cells in a normal person. Like the cystic fibrosis story, this is not a ready-made cure -- but given time, it just might form part of one.
This week was a very bad time to be a free-willed insect (assuming insects have free will. Where's Weevil's resident philosopher when you need him?): not only has a group of American engineering students created a way to remote-control a cockroach, but we've also discovered four new species of fungus that can control the brains of ants, making them walk to places suitable for spreading fungus spores and then die. Evolution, my friends: equal parts amazing and completely merciless. (WARNING: Don't click those links if you can't deal with close-up pictures of many-legged things.)
And finally, the physicists of the world continue to bring us closer to living in a sci-fi movie by proposing how to make an actual tractor beam. The basic idea is that, if you shine a Bessel beam (a special kind of laser with unusally low diffraction rates) at something, its molecules will absorb and reradiate some of the light forward, thereby pushing the object backward towards the beam. The paper is still in peer review, but I for one am confident that, within the decade, we'll be seeing attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
|Last Updated on Friday, 07 October 2011 14:24|