Daredevil Space Diver To Leap Toward World’s First Supersonic Free-Fall From…

Here’s Felix Baumgartner’s plan: Float a balloon to 120,000 feet. Jump out. Break the sound barrier. Don’t die. Simple, right?

If Baumgartner, a world famous base jumper and skydiver, pulls off the feat, he’ll set the record for the world’s highest jump and become the first person to break the sound barrier with his body alone. During the jump, he’ll also collect data on how the human body reacts to a fall from such heights, which could be useful for planning orbital escape plans for future space tourists and astronauts.

Dubbed the Red Bull Stratos and sponsored by the energy drink company, the jump will send Baumgartner to the stratosphere in a small space capsule, lifted by a helium-filled balloon. Once he reaches 120,000 feet after three hours of ascension, ground control will give him the “all clear” sign and he’ll pop open the door and jump, as video cameras on the capsule and his suit record his descent. Within 35 seconds or so, Baumgartner will hit supersonic speeds and break the sound barrier. No one really knows what will happen at that point, but the scientists seem confident that he’ll maintain consciousness. He will free fall for roughly six more minutes, pulling his chute at about 5,000 feet and coasting for 15 minutes back to solid ground.

Just what happens to his body as it goes from subsonic to supersonic and back to subsonic speed is of great interest to scientists, and so he’ll be hooked up to an electrocardiogram monitor during the jump. He’ll also be outfitted with accelerometers and GPS units to confirm his acceleration and speed, and from that the stress on his body. But that’s pretty much it for gear-because he’s wearing a pressurized suit filled with 100 percent oxygen, his crew is rightly wary of putting too many electronics and power sources in his suit that could accidentally set him on fire. Any data they collect will then be made public and turned over to the military and NASA.

The plan is to make the jump sometime in 2010. After they complete test jumps at 25,000, 60,000, and 90,000 feet, they’ll watch the Doppler radar and wait for calm weather and then pick the launch location, which for now they can only say will be somewhere in North America. The goal is to drop Baumgartner near the launch site, but even with low wind conditions he could drift some 150 miles away.

But first they have to test all the gear to make sure that it will work as it transitions from the freezing, no-pressure environment at 120,000 feet to the extreme heat of the dive. It’s the same as with any other flight test program, says Jonathan Clark, the team’s medical director (whose work in high-altitude space jumps we profiled in 2007). “Only in this case, Felix Baumgartner is the aircraft.”

Red Bull as put together this video, putting everything into perspective:

Lockheed’s HULC Super-Soldier Exoskeleton Gets More Juice

HULC want longer-lasting batteries!Even the finest super-soldier suit can end up as expensive deadweight if the batteries run out of juice. Lockheed Martin wants to avoid that fate for its robotic exoskeleton by turning to fuel cells that can power the suit for days, The Register reports.

Lockheed’s Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) is a mechanized frame that allows soldiers to march or even run easily with loads of 200 pounds, as well as squat or kneel without trouble. But the current li-ion batteries supporting the suit typically run down after just a few hours of walking, not to mention running.

That could all change with fuel cells that could sustain 72-hour missions on a single charge, and provide power sockets to spare for military accessories that require their own batteries. Lockheed announced its choice of the Protonex Technology Corporation to develop such fuel cells on Wednesday.

We here at PopSci love our Iron Man suits, and so we’re happy to see longer-lasting versions in the works. After all, it’d be a shame for our robotic warfighters to run down when the Energizer Bunny keeps going on its dinky batteries.

[via The Register]

RCA Airnergy Charger Harvests Electricity From WiFi Signals

via OhGizmo! by Evan Ackerman on 1/9/10


By Evan Ackerman

This thing is, seriously, the highlight of CES for me (so far) this year. 3D TVs and eBook readers are fine, but there’s nothing amazing about them.

The Airnergy Charger is amazing.

This little box has, inside it, some kind of circuitry that harvests WiFi energy out of the air and converts it into electricity. This has been done before, but the Airnergy is able to harvest electricity with a high enough efficiency to make it practically useful: on the CES floor, they were able to charge a BlackBerry from 30% to full in about 90 minutes, using nothing but ambient WiFi signals as a power source.

The Airnergy has a battery inside it, so you can just carry it around and as long as you’re near some WiFi, it charges itself. Unlike a solar charger, it works at night and you can keep it in your pocket. Of course, proximity to the WiFi source and the number of WiFi sources is important, but at the rate it charges, if you have a home wireless network you could probably just leave anywhere in your house overnight and it would be pretty close to full in the morning.


Here is the really, really unbelievable part: RCA says that the USB charger will be available this summer for $40, and a battery with the WiFi harvesting technology will be available soon after. I mean, all kinds of people are pushing wireless charging, but this would hands down take the cake… It doesn’t need a pad and it’s charging all the time, for free, in just about any urban environment.

We didn’t think you’d believe all this, so we made RCA explain it all on video:

Yeah, we’ll definitely be keeping you updated on this one.

Why the US and much of Europe are shivering in the cold

via Ars Technica by jtimmer@arstechnica.com (John Timmer) on 1/11/10

Those of us shivering through extended stretches of subfreezing temperatures might be forgiven for getting a bit impatient for the onset of more significant global warming. And, if you’re reading Ars, chances are good that this describes you, as the US and Europe have been blanketed in an unusual chill. Ironically, as these inhabited parts shiver, the atmospheric system that’s causing it, the Arctic Oscillation, has covered Greenland and the Arctic Ocean with air that’s equally as extreme, but in the warm direction.

The folks who run the National Center for Atmospheric Research have a great rundown of the details of the AO Oscillation. In short, high pressure in the Arctic forces the jet stream south, and it drags cold air with it, chilling North American and northern Eurasia. In its opposite mode, those same regions tend to be much warmer. Right now, we’re in such an extreme high-pressure event that the readings have run off the scale of NOAA’s AO index. Fortunately for those hoping to warm up a bit, the AO is a weather event—it often changes states multiple times within a single season, and there’s no clear evidence linking its behavior to climate trends.

The NCAR site also points out one of the reasons why people are making a big deal out of this one: we tend to think short-term when it comes to our surroundings. We haven’t had an AO event this severe since 2003, and the high pressure mode has been relatively rare since 1990, so many places have simply gotten used to not having an Arctic blast during the winter. The fact that November was unusually warm in the US, Canada, and Europe probably doesn’t help matters, either.

When it comes to longer-term impacts, this strong phase of the AO may significantly alter the dynamics of the Arctic Ocean’s ice pack, which responds both to weather events and climactic trends. Most of the Arctic Ocean freezes up during the winter, but the warm air present may limit the extent and thickness of solid ice sheets, meaning a lot of this year’s freeze is likely to simply remelt next summer. At the same time, however, the wind patterns that are prevailing will drive less of the ice out of the Arctic Ocean, which may preserve some of the older, more robust multiyear ice.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center runs a site devoted to tracking Arctic ice dynamics that provides great explanations of trends.

Cellophane City? Plastic Arts Change Urban Landscape

via WebUrbanist by Delana on 1/8/10

When negative comments are made about public art, they usually revolve around the art being unattractive, too permanent, or a waste of city funds (either for commissioning a sanctioned piece or cleaning up an unsanctioned one). But two different public art projects in France are capturing attention and imaginations with their simplicity and impermanence – and they use a material that’s highly unexpected.

Street Interventions

(images via: Cedric Bernadotte)

French artist Cedric Bernadotte wanted to figure out a new way for humans to interact with the urban environment. He believes that stopping to rest and enjoy a few quiet moments is essential for one’s enjoyment of the city. He accomplishes his goals with the creative use of cellophane, industrial tapes and inflatables.

(images via: Cedric Bernadotte)

Using the type of sealing plastic that’s used to secure pallets, Bernadotte invents new spaces using existing city objects. Stretching from one signpost to another, bridging the empty spaces of a public art sculpture or simply closing the gap between two large rocks, his created objects are an experiment in public versus private space.

(images via: Cedric Bernadotte)

They are often chairs or benches, made of nothing more than strong plastic, maybe some tape, and a great deal of curiosity. It’s amazing to watch the faces of passers-by light up when they see an unexpected place to perch momentarily. A swing in the middle of the city adds a touch of whimsy to anyone’s day, and a hammock in the sun provides the perfect spot for a mid-day nap. But most impressive of all is the fact that every piece of Bernadotte’s Street Interventions project is ephemeral; existing only temporarily and leaving no trace when it’s gone.


(images via: CelloGraff)

In 2006, three art students joined forces in France and formed Poetically Correct. The group eventually changed its name to CelloGraff and lost a member, but gained a compelling idea: why not decorate the city with graffiti, but in a way that would hardly be objectionable? Their plan: transient graffiti that would be as elaborate and artistic as they want, but which disappears within minutes when needed.

(images via: CelloGraff)

To achieve their vision, the artists turned to cellophane. Much like Bernadotte, they wanted a material that was cheap, readily available, and would leave no sign after it was removed. They stretch temporary canvases between trees, signs or whatever is nearby. They partition off small pieces of the urban landscape for themselves. And then, they paint. They create huge pieces that would rival most graffiti artists, but they aren’t out to tag up the entire city. They are interested only in the transience of their interactions with the urban environment.

(images via: CelloGraff)

In this way, the artists, known as Astro and Kanos, call into question many ideas about graffiti. Other artists have shown that it’s more socially acceptable to paint on canvas than on city walls, but graffiti artists who only paint commissioned pieces tend to lose the respect of some peers as well as the visibility that comes from painting in public places. Astro and Kanos bridge that gap, leaving their graffiti (and their CelloGraff logo) to the public eye but doing it in a way that (mostly) respects the laws and statutes of the area.

iType keyboard brings a physical keyboard to the iPhone, but there’s a catch

via Engadget by Jacob Schulman on 1/8/10

Attention iPhone owners that have been praying for a physical keyboard forever: your prayers have been answers… kind of. Ion Audio has debuted its iType iPhone keyboard at CES, and we can confirm that it does indeed work as advertised. Once you pop your iPhone or iPod touch into the dock at the top of the board, you’re free to type away to your heart’s content — if you’re in the iType app, of course. Unfortunately, because of the closed nature of most of the iPhone platform, you can’t just start typing in any iPhone app; you have to type in the iType app and then copy and paste to the app you want. It’s surely an annoyance, but if you’re sick of the soft keyboard and need some relief, it’s your best option for now.

iType keyboard brings a physical keyboard to the iPhone, but there’s a catch originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 08 Jan 2010 14:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Gaming Room

I’ve seen many gaming rooms/collections but this set of photos uploaded by donkey*kong from the Netherlands just blows everything away. Its like a museum!

Now this is interesting – all these games were produced by Nintendo?!

As for my history of game machines…

Sega Mega Drive
Super Nintendo
Game Boy
Mega CD (ugh!)
PC Engine Duo
NIntendo Entertainment System
Game Boy Advance
Playstation 2
Playstation 3
Nintendo DS
Nintendo DSi

And before all that I done gaming on the Commodore 64.
Whats your list of gaming machine history?

Was interesting reading the history of Nintendo and learned that between 1963 and 1968, Nintendo set up a taxi company, food company and even love hotels.

Nintendo started business back in 1887 where they originally made card games. It was the card games that grew Nintendo to a 900 yen per stock company.
By 1964 however, the card game market was saturated and people pretty much stopped buying card games. Nintendo’s stock fell from that 900 to 60 yen.

Nintendo was deep in debt and was struggling to keep the business afloat in the Toy market which Bandai and Tomy dominated.
In 1970, Nintendo brought out a robotic toy hand called the Ultra Hand which I have annotated in image 86029. It was to sell over a million units.

By 1975, Nintendo saw how popular the video game market was and began to experiment with various products. The rest is history which you can read at Wikipedia.

All these photos were submitted to Figure.fm where we would still like to see more photos of your rooms in the Room category.
It could have been my imagination but I heard Kotobukiya say that there maybe a few pages in Otacool 2 for a few room photos…

And my room needs more game machines in it