Thought Kills

I have always had this idea that if you think about it, you think actually talk yourself into getting ill and what not. It’s sometimes funny how you need an actual scientific proof sometimes to make people believe that something logical and common is true. Well, guess what, David Robson at BBC says that it’s the real deal. noceboEver thought why it sometimes feels that some people seemed to be cursed and they can’t escape the sad end? Well, personally, I don’t believe in such thing as superstitions, but perhaps they have brought it upon themselves for actually BELIEVING in it.

These negative consequences caused by a strong belief alone are called the “nocebo effect,” and it can result in a number of symptoms, for example, dizziness, vomiting, headaches, and sometimes even death! Have you ever been scared or worried sick to the point it resulted in some physical symptoms? I have. I’m a bit of a worrying type, and back when I was little, I would worry myself sick to the point I would have stomach aches. I couldn’t eat. My symptom of over thinking is the loss of the appetite. What’s yours? I’m pretty sure almost all of us have something behind our sleeves, but this kind of “nocebo jinx” could get super serious if people take it too far. Continue reading


3D Printing

The other day I got a message from an overtly excited friend of mine, who was like: “Can you imagine?! HP’s gonna release 3D printers for the public!” I responded with an equally excited message (Yay!), but to be honest, I couldn’t imagine. The point of 3D printing still escapes my mind, or maybe it’s just the term itself that makes my mind boggle. 3D. Printing. As far as I understand, these “printers” are machines that allow you to create basically anything you want, it’s like sculpting only automatic, right? However, while I’m still baffled about the concept there are people who are not so sure about the advantages of 3D printing.

One of these people is Anthony Zurcher, an Editor at Echo Chambers. In his article on BBC, he says that although 3D printing can revolutionize the manufacturing industry in the long run, it also raises a whole lot of questions that need to be answered right away. And in this case, I think the questions are obvious – if anyone is able to use 3D printing, then how can we be sure that it will not be used for dangerous purposes? I mean, the industry is still in its “nascent form” as it has been mentioned in the article, so no one can print out guns or anything (wow, does that sound bizarre or what?), but we can never know what to expect in the future, when 3D printing evolves.

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Flexible phones

I don’t know which day it  was (or which blog it was), but I certainly have had a post on graphene before. You know, the super duper material that will allow us to have bendable phones in the near future (or so they say). I mean, it may sound like a paragraph from a science fiction book, but who wouldn’t want a phone that folds, has fleximorph_wrist_modeble batteries, and solar panels that are built into a colorful screen. The same image is presented in this article on graphene by BBC Future section, that discusses possibilities of using the material for our phones.

To be honest, the idea of a flexible phone is not new. I think I’ve first heard of the Nokia Morph concept some six or seven years ago, and ever since then I’ve been waiting… and waiting… and waiting… Truth to be told, we’ve moved on from flippable to smart phones during that period, but folded phones? Ah… No so fast. Continue reading

Stretchy battery whee~!

With new stretchable electronics on the rise, the problem was – how to power them. I mean, if you have a device that stretches, you need a power source that would be able to stretch as well. But it also has to contain energy, so the stretching has to come without any energy loss. Researchers have now revealed a flat battery that castretchy-batteryn stretch 300% without any loss in performance. What is more, the study related to these stretchable batteries shows that they can be recharged wireless. Which should not come as a surprise, because wireless power development has been rather rapid lately.

Sadly, I suck at physics (paid no attention to it in high school), so I don’t really get all the technical details about this new stretchy battery, but it is more than obvious that once this battery emerges into commercial production line, it will push forward a number of flexible electronics. There is a whole range of flexible devices that has been envisioned by developers, for example, implantable health monitors and roll-up displays (now wouldn’t THAT be neat?).

However, it seems that we still will have to wait a little bit more until we will have new electronics powered by these batteries manufactured for consumers. According to the researchers, the battery lifetime has to be improved before it heads for commercialization. Either way, let’s way and see, because this one seems like it’s going to be fun one.

One ticket to the Moon please

What would you say if you could take a weekend trip to the Moon and back? Well, if you’re stinking rich that opportunity might present to your in the near future, because Moon tourism is no longer a subject of science fiction – a company called Excalibur Almaz has expressed its hopes to send people to the lunar orbit for money as early as 2015. They are seriously planning on doing it, since the company has bought four Russimoon-travelan space capsules and two space stations. It might sound very ambitious, but there’s a high possibility that Russia’s Soyuz and Virgin Galactic will take paying tourists to space as soon as 2013 (which is, like, NOW).

Virgin Galactic is planning to fly up its passengers up to 99 miles which is the very boundary of space. One ticket would cost around $203,000 and space expert Graham Southorn is 100% that the Virgin Galactic flights are happening. They might be late just to make sure that everything is safe, but he says “I’m sure it will happen.”

As far as Russia’s Soyuz is concerned, they have a long history of space flights, and there have a record of sending tourists to space since 2001. They can fly tourists right to the International Space Station for $36 mln per person. It is of no surprise that Soyuz is alsso planning a lunar trip.

The bottom line is that Excalibur Almaz isn’t the only company that is look up high for new market opportunities. As long as you have decent rocket and tons of cash, why not?

Thoughts on robotic arm

Here I come with a post title that might sound a little bit too philosophic for my liking, but hey, never judge a book by its cover (or title) – some authors are simprobocop2_cain_2k11_13_by_war_of_art-d3c3c9ely terrible at titles. What I really wanted to talk about is this article by James Gallagher I read on the BBC website about how a paralyzed woman could control a robotic arm with her thoughts.

Of course, the woman is no psychic, she’s participating in a research on how robotics can be therapeutic for people with spinal cord injuries. And she could not really use the robotic arm at home, considering that the experiment took place in a lab. However, the experts claim that the ability to pick up and move a variety of objects with a robotic arm that is controlled by one’s thoughts was better than expected. The quotes regarding the experiment include “unprecedented performance” and a “remarkable achievement”. Continue reading

Transformers coming

I bet there’s still a long way down until we see Optimus Prime waltzing down the street, but little steps are better than nothing, right? Scientists as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a small robot that can actually change its MILLMOT000DKKFAD24-thumb-550xauto-106290shape. In order to copy molecules that fold themselves in various shapes, this robot uses magnets. Admittedly, there’s still a long way to go, but if enough of work is done, then in the future shape-shifting robots can be used to perform different tasks, as they would be reconfigured over and over again.

The robot itself looks very simple, and its main perk is that it can be folded into different shapes from one continuous strip without any moving parts. The shape can be acquired because the robot has a so-called “electro-permanent” motor. Since the robot has pairs of powerful and weaker magnets and the magnetic field changes direction once an electric current is applied, the robot moves when magnetic fields add up or cancel each other out.

According to Jeremy Pitt, who is the deputy head of the Intelligent Systems and Networks Group at Imperial College London, right not the most interesting part will be the research between two groups of robot makers: “There is going to be an interesting research race between groups trying to create reconfigurable structures out of such chains and those trying to build them out of independent self-assembling units.”

I doubt that we’re gonna see real transformers as we imagine them within my lifetime, but hey, at least we’re going somewhere, aren’t we?