Technology News Round Up

Technews in the Making

A New Kind of Interactive Museum

When history is taught effectively, humans are not only affected intellectually, but also emotionally. If a student could actually meet the person they are studying and engage in conversation, the lesson becomes an extremely powerful learning opportunity.

holocaust museum The US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC is taking the first step in creating holograms of people – in this case, Holocaust survivors – that will answer questions from visitors. At this museum you will soon be able to meet a 3-D projection of 80-year-old Pinchas Gutter and ask him questions about the horrors of his childhood in Poland. A voice recognition program will interpret the question and the hologram Gutter will look back at you and provide the response. The real Pinchas Gutter is one of several Holocaust survivors who were filmed with 3-D cameras as they answered about 500 questions from researchers. These survivors, all well past seventy years of age, endured hundreds of hours under the hot lights of the studio, and interestingly enough, none of them declined the opportunity to tell their stories.

Explore how it is possible to interact with history

Can You Read Faster with a Paper Book or an E-Book?

grandma and grand kid Would you rather curl up with a paper book or an electronic version? The overwhelming response by both young and old to this question is still – the traditional paper book. But which should you prefer?

Researchers in Germany determined that reading comprehension is the same with either experience. Then they devised a study to measure reading speed. Using a young group and an old group, they set out to determine which experience requires more work for the eyes and the brain, using eye-tracking technology and EEG sensors to measure cognitive processing.

The young group showed no difference in reading speed. The surprise in the study was in the old group. Reading electronic books, they recognized words and processed their meaning faster. Researchers concluded that the enhanced visual contrast of words on a screen enabled older readers to recognize meaning with less effort.

See the results (not available in paperback)

Liquid Bottles in Your Carry-On Bag

Not Allowed Perhaps this has happened to you. You get to airport security on your way to your tropical vacation and you put your carry-on bag through the scanner. Inside is your suit for the beach and your new bottle of sunscreen. You thought you remembered everything, but you forget that authorities confiscate large liquid bottles – and you now have to fork out another $20 to insure against sunburn.

Security personnel are trained to throw out everything. They have not been equipped to quickly and objectively determine which liquids are safe for the plane -- until now. A physicist in England developed a spectroscope scanner that can instantaneously detect dangerous chemicals. The spectroscope emits a laser pulse at the sample. As photons bounce back, a camera captures the pattern of light unique to that molecular structure and a computer interprets the colors and determines the chemical make-up. When nitric acid or hydrogen peroxide is detected, the scanner flashes red. When sunscreen, water or duty-free gin is detected, the scanner flashes green... and you are good to go.

Enjoy your flight... and this piece on a new scanner

Self-Charging Battery

Batteries convert chemical energy into electrical energy. To re-charge the battery, you need a source of electrical energy to reverse the chemical reactions and restore the chemical energy – a rather inefficient process.

Self-Charging Battery At the Georgia Institute of Technology, researchers were able to harness kinetic energy to directly restore chemical energy. A power cell, placed inside the heel of a shoe, can charge itself from the kinetic energy of the heel hitting the pavement. Inside the cell is a piezoelectric membrane that, when compressed, drives lithium ions from the cathode to the anode, restoring the cell's charge.

Learn how this power cell re-charges as you walk
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