Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Shark skin may be the secret to stopping bacterial growth Add to ...

Sharkskin-covered gadgets

“Sharks have been models of efficiency for 400 million-plus years, inspiring fear, wonder and movies,” says National Geographic. “Now a secret to their long success – scaly skin that resists microorganisms and reduces drag – is inspiring biomimetics. University of Florida engineer Anthony Brennan says all sharks have overlapping scales, or denticles, that are too rough for bacteria to colonize. His firm, Sharklet Technologies, mimics the unique pattern to inhibit bacterial growth on medical devices and surfaces.”

Working under the sky

“Researchers in Germany say they’ve developed a lighting system that can make workers feel as though they’re working outside under the open sky,” reports United Press International. “Scientists at the Stuttgart-based Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering say the system creates a feeling of spaciousness and freedom through a luminous ceiling that extends across an entire room and simulates lighting conditions that resemble those produced by passing clouds. The ceiling is composed of panels, each 20 inches by 20 inches, containing light-emitting diodes with a diffuser film to create homogeneous lighting that illuminates the room throughout.”

Could your car be hacked?

“As cars and trucks have become laden with brainy devices to control everything from air bags to crash-avoidance systems, the vehicles have become increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks, according to recent studies by university researchers and security companies,” the San Jose Mercury News reports. “One found that a car’s computer controls could be remotely accessed through its Bluetooth, WiFi or OnStar connections, potentially allowing terrorists to control the brakes of numerous cars simultaneously, corporate spies to eavesdrop on a motoring executive’s phone calls, or thieves to electronically locate, break into and start cars they’ve targeted to steal. Another showed how a car’s tire pressure warning system could be wirelessly tricked into sending false alerts to drivers, which could prompt them to stop and fall prey to robbers following them.”

Flying robots build a tower

“Construction workers please note: Somebody just built a 20-foot tower using flying robots. No people involved,” Robert Krulwich blogs for National Public Radio. “The demo took place in a warehouse-like art gallery called FRAC, just outside Paris. As humans (none of them, I presume, in the construction trades) applauded and gaped, four helicopterish thingies swooped through the air, somehow avoiding each other, and one by one, settled on some ‘brick dispensers.’ Using small plungers they then plucked one brick at a time, carried each to the ‘building site’ and slowly created a wall. It took a few days, but what emerged is a twisting, undulating tower, designed by Swiss architects Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler. … [O] course it will be years, maybe generations, before they can do what high-rise construction workers do.”

Betty is put on a diet

“When Australian python Atomic Betty reached a weight approaching 300 pounds (135 kilograms), her keepers worried that she was gaining weight too fast and she needed to watch what she was eating,” The Telegraph reports. “Keepers at the Australian Reptile Park in Gosford … put her on a strict diet of only three to four goats a year. Betty usually swallows a goat in about an hour, though it takes up to a week to digest. Her zoo keepers were pleased to see that while she gained a few extra pounds, the python weighed in at a relatively svelte 302 pounds. … Despite measuring around 22 feet (6.5 metres), Betty still has not reached maturity and is expected to grow several feet in the next seven years.”

The latest apocalypses

Some of the most widely circulated, and weirdest, theories surrounding the 2012 doomsday prediction, gathered by International Business Times:

– Planet Nibiru: “It is a planet-sized object which, according to believers, is set to collide with the Earth in 2012, and is under NASA surveillance, which the U.S. government is keeping a top secret.”

– Alien invasion: “Conspiracy theorists claim that SETI, a collective name for search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, have detected three large alien spacecraft due to arrive on the Earth in 2012.”

– Timewave Zero: “Terence McKenna, an American philosopher and psychonaut, devised a numerological formula that claims the universe will reach ‘Infinite Complexity’ in 2012.”

– Web Bot Prediction: “A computer program known by the name Web Bot project predicted doomsday in 2012 based on Internet chatter.”

Thought du jour

“Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.”

Albert Camus (1913-60)

French author and philosopher

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories