May 24, 2015 |
Every so often, airport screening personnel around the world have been greeted by a strange sight: A tall, red-haired Englishman carrying a clear plastic box with thin tubes and pulleys nestled inside. "Yes, I have had some interesting experiences with that," said Jason Launders, explaining his invention as he sat in a windowless lab in Plymouth Meeting. "Try to explain it to a bunch of Germans. " The scientist created the motorized contraption, which the ECRI Institute uses to test the accuracy of high-tech CT scanners around the world by imitating the function of the human heart.
April 11, 2015 |
The play begins with a disembodied head, tastefully parked in the middle of a table, amiably conversing with some sort of technician - in what could be a Samuel Beckett play or the sci-fi film The Brain That Wouldn't Die . But that isn't InterAct Theatre's style. No, this was the latest new work by resident playwright Thomas Gibbons ( Permanent Collection , etc.) titled Uncanny Valley - an important exploration of the technological possibilities of immortality. It opened Wednesday at the Adrienne, traveling similar territory as Caryl Churchill's A Number (about cloning)
February 23, 2015 |
Last week, I talked about trends associated with the winners of the National Association of Home Builders' Best in American Living Awards. Today's topic: the results of Better Homes & Gardens' annual survey of its readership, which I have been writing about, seriously or tongue-in-cheek, for the last seven years, although its informal version was part of a panel discussion at the builders group's annual trade shows for much longer than that....
December 17, 2014 |
With a growing body of innovative original productions, from House of Cards and Lilyhammer to Orange Is the New Black and Marco Polo , Netflix has proven it deserves a place in the vanguard of TV programming. Yet the streaming site's most buzzed-about offering this month isn't one of its own shows. It's the British import Black Mirror , a sci-fi anthology series whose six one-hour episodes have driven critics and sci-fi geeks to distraction with passionate praise.
December 15, 2014 |
Now that Apple Inc. has hooked the world on smartphones that pack voice calls, Internet, video, cameras, antennas, sensors, and chargers in smooth pocket boxes, engineers are busy finding ways to unpack those features and make them disappear - into clothing, eyeglasses, and other "wearable" systems. Consumers will buy an estimated 19 million wearable computers this year: fitness trackers like Fitbit , wrist computers like Pebble Smartwatch , "augmented- reality" video-game helmets, Google Glass optical computers, and more on the way, says a report by Ramon Llamas , mobile analyst at International Data Corp.
December 12, 2014 |
If someone had a chance to ask Bill Gates one question in all the world, what would it be? Dafni Pratt, 16, a junior at Carver High School for Engineering and Science, got that chance during a video chat Wednesday at her school. With 30 other students looking on, Pratt asked the country's richest man, who led in putting computers into the hands of everyday folks, about the lack of women in computer science. "Studies show that the percentage of women majoring in computer science has been falling since 1986," the teen from Southwest Philadelphia said.
December 1, 2014 |
I remember yearning to read the comics in the Sunday paper. But the hieroglyphs inside the speech balloons remained inscrutable, until - on a sunny morning in Miss O'Shea's class - I finally grasped that a-n-d on the page and "and" in conversation meant the same thing. A eureka moment for Brian Meersma arrived when his grandfather read aloud from the book the severely dyslexic boy, then in seventh grade, was having to decipher, word by laborious word. "I said something like, 'I didn't know this was such a good book!
November 24, 2014 |
The beach resort area of Cape May County may be angling to become a hot spot for drone testing. But plans for unmanned aircraft systems experimentation have yet to get off the ground at the county airport in the Erma section of Lower Township and at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May. Testing was delayed over the summer to protect the nesting and migratory patterns of threatened bird species, including the piping plover and the red knot....
September 17, 2014
APPLE'S RELEASE of the Apple Watch and iPhone6 makes it clear that Silicon Valley's future will be directly tied to its ability to protect tech users' privacy. Securing Americans' personal information in an increasingly tech-dominated world has to be a higher priority for tech leaders and the valley's congressional and legislative delegations. Their failures up to now have left them, shall we say, exposed to the point of embarrassment. The confidence Apple executives expressed in their ability to protect customers' private information would be more believable if the whole world hadn't just seen nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities courtesy of hackers who broke into supposedly secure private Apple accounts.
September 14, 2014 |
It's getting harder to find the line between science and science fiction. One of the hot research techniques these days, "optogenetics," uses gene therapy to deliver light-sensitive proteins to specific cells. Then researchers use light to control the cells. The field got its start in the brain, where scientists have demonstrated the technique by making contented mice fly into a rage - a remarkable, if slightly creepy, achievement. Brian Chow, a University of Pennsylvania bioengineer, has bigger ambitions than that.