Category Archives: Technology

Elon Musk and Hyperloop

For all of the engineers out there:

. . .Both for trip comfort and safety, it would be best to travel at high subsonic speeds for a 350 mile journey. For much longer journeys, such as LA to NY, it would be worth exploring super high speeds and this is probably technically feasible, but, as mentioned above, I believe the economics would probably favor a supersonic plane.


The approach that I believe would overcome the Kantrowitz limit is to mount an electric compressor fan on the nose of the pod that actively transfers high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel. This is like having a pump in the head of the syringe actively relieving pressure. . .


Hyperloop consists of a low pressure tube with capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. The capsules are supported on a cushion of air, featuring pressurized air and aerodynamic lift. The capsules are accelerated via a magnetic linear accelerator affixed at various stations on the low pressure tube with rotors contained in each capsule. Passengers may enter and exit Hyperloop at stations located either at the ends of the tube, or branches along the tube length.

Read it all.

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.17

The Hop
Okay, this is just too cool:

3. Hop

Named after obedient bell staff, the hands-free Hop is a new way of carrying luggage. The prototypical suitcase contains three receivers that are honed through your smartphone, allowing it to follow you remotely.

Check it out.

What type of Facebook user are you?

There are two main types of Facebook users, as far as I’ve been able to figure. And with this being an election year and most of us unable to resist posting our political preferences on our Facebook pages, we’re going to reveal ourselves not as Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, etc, but as either displayers or engagers.

Displayers are those people who love to show what they think or feel or believe, but don’t want to respond to any comments about their posting. Now some actually just really don’t want to get into it—they post what they find supporting or interesting or funny, and they don’t really care to discuss it.

But then you have the passive-aggressive displayers. They post the most partisan articles, slogans, photos, etc. and while they may respond to those who agree with them (kind of an online group hug), they rarely respond to those who disagree.

At the extreme end of the passive-aggressive displayer mode, you have those who actually delete any negative or less than positive comments under their politically charged posts, yet leave up all of the adulatory comments. So you have friends who may post pictures or stories from places like One Million Strong Against Mitt Romney in 2012 or Too Informed to Vote Republican and, if you’re conservative and write something to counter the post, even though you’re a “friend” and haven’t said anything “mean” or “derogatory,” down the rabbit hole your comment goes.

The other kind of Facebook user is the engager, someone who wants others to comment on his post and wants to respond back. I find this type of user much more interesting because you can have an actual debate or discussion with them. Others join in and sometimes you actually learn something.

But at the extreme end here is the belligerent engager, someone who posts the most partisan articles and slogans seemingly just to provoke a reaction he can then berate you about. Usually various forms of vulgar language are involved and it soon becomes obvious to all of his “friends” that this type of Facebook user is just trying to make himself feel bigger and better than he really is. And it quickly becomes boring as well–how many times can you respond to “You’re just a big, fat f**k” before you decide the “conversation” is over?

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.14

Check this out while reading Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield.

12. Linotype: The Film

Named the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by none other than Thomas Edison, the Linotype type-casting machine forever changed printing by replacing hand-set type with elaborate mechanics. The decayed and rusting machines are now the subject of a documentary film that pays respects to their impact on the spread of information in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.12

Watch the video!

12. Musical Jellies

Squishy forms create harmonies on a game board designed with a capacitative sensor able to read differences in shape, salt concentration and vibrations in jelly molds. Noisy Jelly presents this mesmerizing kit for DIY experimenters complete with dies, molds and agar powder to start making gelatinous instruments.

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.10

But what about dogs?

4. Apps for Cats

Not content to let your furry friends miss out on tablet entertainment, Friskies has produced three feline-friendly games. The apps utilize research on how cats respond to stimuli and make for some great entertainment for both pets and their owners.

Insurgents used cell phone geotags to destroy AH-64s in Iraq

Technology is neutral–it can be used for good or evil. We have it and the enemy soon does as well. From Michael Yon, first posted at DefenseTech:

Here’s a battlefield safety issue that some people have been warning about –and others have been ignoring —  for a while now; an enemy using social media and cellphone geotagging to identify the precise location of troops on a battlefield.

When you take a photo with your cellphone, the gps coordinates of the location you took the picture is embedded into the image. When you upload said photo onto the internet for all to see, people can pull the location data from that picture. If you think this is just people being paranoid and that the Taliban would never do this in Afghanistan, think again. Insurgents figured out how to use this to their advantage in Iraq years ago. In 2007, a group of Iraqi insurgents used geotags to destroy several American AH-64 Apache choppers sitting on a flightline in Iraq.

This is just one more example of low-end cyber warfare that can be as deadly as expensive software worms designed to infiltrate an enemy’s most heavily defended networks.

Read it all, and check out Michael Yon for reporting from the war zones.

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.7

PlanetSolar's Turanor, the world’s largest solar-powered boat
Finally, something solar powered that works:

10. Turanor’s Cross-Global Journey

PlanetSolar’s striking solar-powered boat just completed an 18-month journey around the world. After departing in September 2010, the 101-foot-long boat stuck close to the sun-drenched equator to fuel its 703 lithium-ion powered panels.

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.5

The Clapper with a twist:

6. BANG! Lamp

Replacing the antiquated notions of switches and clapping is Taiwan-based Bitplay’s playful gun-controlled lamp, which debuted at the New York International Gift Fair. Those who grew up shooting ducks on their Nintendo will delight in the lampshade knocking off kilter when you pull the trigger.


Okay, this one’s for Technorati: MUGGMYAMMX4G

Hope that works.

Cool Hunting Fridays v 1.9

Maybe this will be one of the aircraft/spaceships landing at the new Spaceport America in New Mexico:

10. NASA for Virgin Galactic

After bringing the Space Shuttle Program to a close earlier this year, NASA has signed a $4.5 million, three-mission contract with the commercial airline. It’s a partnership that may seem jarring to those who grew up idolizing the space program, as a lucky few tourists and NASA-sponsored research groups take turns aboard the suborbital flights on Virgin.

Check it out.

Cool Hunting Fridays v 1.7

Of course, this week there are the obligatory Steve Jobs links:

1. Macbook Memorial

A lot of love has been shown for the Apple CEO, but MintDigital’s portrait of Steve Jobs made from the parts of a Macbook Pro really stands out for its clever concept and beautiful execution.


3. Steve Jobs Patents

If you can measure a man by his patents, the NY Times has a nice interactive piece covering many of the 317 held by the late Steve Jobs. They range from iPod design to Apple store layouts, offering an interesting glimpse inside the mind of highly touted tech genius.

But my favorite this week is this:

7. Toilet Bike

Only in Japan could you find a gem like this. The three-wheeled Toilet Bike Neo is powered by “100% biogas”, which we can only imagine to mean just what you’re thinking. This weekend will start its trek across Japan from Kyushu to Tokyo.

Hey, if it’s a Toto, you know it’s good.

Check them all out.

Cool Hunting Fridays v 1.6

Something I could never, ever do:

2. Leap of Faith

Last weekend, American wingsuit enthusiast Jeb Corliss successfully flew through a cave in Tianmen mountain in the Hunan Province of China, just one day after jumping off the top of the same 1,500-meter high peak. Both remarkable jumps were beautifully captured by Corliss himself using his helmet-mounted GoPro camera. Make sure to keep an eye out for the official edit dropping from GoPro soon.

Cool Hunting Fridays v 1.5


First, airplane seats are getting smaller, and now this:

8. Sleepbox

Arch Group answers the prayers of jet-lagged travelers with Sleepbox, a private sleep cabin and shower for hire at airports.

More here:

Sleepbox looks like the perfect private rest stop for any airport. There are boxes with up to three beds, sockets for charging up gadgets, luggage storage space, LED-reading lamps, electric-driven blinds, Wi-Fi, safety deposit box and even a touchscreen TV.

Among Solyndra’s creditors: The California Democratic Party

Crony capitalism at its best. From Verum Serum (via Ace):

Out of the hundreds of out-of-work employees, vendors, investors and other creditors in the bankruptcy of government-backed solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC, one name stands out: the California Democratic Party.

Why California Democrats would be creditor to a company that received more than a half-billion dollars in federal loans to build a solar-panel plant isn’t clear. Even party officials say they’re not sure. . .

Meanwhile (also taken from Verum Serum), the DoE did not disclose that it had been massively lobbied by Solyndra.

Check out Ace.

MIT: In-car algorithm could rapidly dissolve traffic jams

Can this work? Sounds interesting. From MIT’s Technology Review:

. . . One interesting question is how best to dissolve jams once they form. Most traffic experts agree that the basic idea is to ensure that cars leave the jam more quickly than they arrive, so that the jam dissolves.

Now Hyun Keun Lee and Beom Jun Kim at the University of Seoul in South Korea have a come up with a simple idea to automate and improve this dissolving process. They define two types of drivers: optimistic and defensive. Defensive drivers leave more room to the vehicle ahead than required by safety. Optimistic drivers leave too little.

They then use a cellular automaton to model traffic flow in a way that reproduces most of the usual driving behaviours such as exceeding the speed limit, overreacting to road conditions by accelerating and braking to hard and so on.

But they also add an extra ingredient. All the vehicles in this model share their speed and position with their neighbours and this information filters downstream. That means downstream vehicles immediately become aware that the traffic ahead has come to a standstill.

When that happens, Lee and Kim’s algorithm immediately switches all the downstream driving behaviour to defensive, so that vehicles exceed the safe distance between them. This slows the rate at which vehicles join the jam.

At the same time, vehicles leaving the jams are made to accelerate away quickly using automated cruise control. This increases the rate at which vehicles leave the jam.

The result is that the jam quickly dissolves. . .

Check it out.

Cool Hunting Fridays v 1.4

What can I say? Talking Heads is one of my ever-favorite groups (Psycho Killer, Burning Down the House), so David Byrne lives ever on:

4. Tight Spot

Following the success of his Playing The Building piano installation a few years ago, David Byrne returns with Tight Spot, a giant inflatable globe under NYC’s High Line that will allow passersby to hear David Byrne’s voice as they walk on by.

Facebook’s “Like button problem”

Commentary from Hot Air on Facebook’s possible solution:

The solution, as detailed in the linked article, is that FB will now offer a new set of buttons associated with web content. They will be “Watched,” “Listened” and “Read” buttons, depending on the content type. (I know, you’re terribly excited. But hang with me for a moment.)

First of all, I can relate to the problem of the “Like” button. We recently had some very serious flooding problems in Upstate NY and a FB page was established where people were compiling flood photos and relief information. It’s kind of weird to hit a “like” button on pictures of people’s homes and businesses being destroyed, but I did it anyway. . .

But Facebook is still trying to steer away from having a “dislike” button. As one author noted, it could lead to an explosion of oversharing. But this left me wondering… if there is still a “like” button clearly displayed and somebody goes to the trouble of choosing the “read” or “watched” option, doesn’t that sort of become the default “dislike” button?. . .

Check it out.

Cool Hunting Fridays v 1.3

How many can you guess?

6. Bare Essentials

Amsterdam-based graphic designer Dennis de Groot boiled down 50 iconic cartoon, movie, video game and comic book characters into illustrations stripped of detail, exploring how we recognize graphics and pop culture.

Check it out.

Cool Hunting Fridays v 1.2

So are you still a vegetarian if you eat bugs?

2. Bug Originals

The Atlantic’s Daniel Fromson has lunch with Marian Peters, the brains behind Amsterdam’s Bug Originals. Discussed over a plate of mealworm fried rice, Peters aims to make bugs a mainstream protein source through her line of insect-based meals and a cookbook with revered entomologist Arnold van Huis.

Check it out.