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The Automotive Revolution Has Begun

Written by Jon Schwarzmann on . Posted in Tech

The time is soon arriving that the oil barons have been dreading and conspiring against for years. That is,  when electric vehicles (EVs) are no longer a pipe dream of burnt out hippies, but rather a fully viable consumer product.

A while back we talked about Better Place, a company helping to visualize and build the infrastructure needed for the EV to thrive on. What wasn’t known at the time was how many big name auto manufacturers were actually going to be putting out these vehicles. Let it be known that while there aren’t going to be a huge amount of cars to pick from, one key factor will be the kind of EV you choose.

There’s going to be a strict division between types of EVs. Automakers are either taking the pure-electric route or opting for a hybrid-electric engine. The all-electric category is obvious — you plug these bad boys in and they run purely off the electricity for their 100-200 mile range. Top speeds vary, but you’ll have no trouble taking them on the highways. Don’t be expecting to sit in the passing lane like you’re used to though.

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Tips on Two Wheels

Written by Jim Dalrymple on . Posted in Tech

A while ago, on a trip to Canada, I missed my bus. It wasn’t a big deal, except that I was twenty miles from where I needed to be, and I only had half an hour to get there. I didn’t want to rent a car and I didn’t think that I could ride a bike that fast, so after looking around I decided to rent a scooter. I’d never ridden a scooter before, but it had always seemed fun. And it was.

When I got back from my trip, I kept thinking about scooters — a lot — until I finally bought a used 2003 Genuine Stella. In the time since, I’ve learned that a scooter can be a practical, exciting, and stylish way to get around — and with the warmer spring weather, this is the perfect time to start cruising on two wheels.

So, if you’re thinking about getting a scooter, here are some things to think about first.

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Gaming Future Is Almost Here

Written by Jon Schwarzmann on . Posted in Tech

Last year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Microsoft and Sony announced game-changing technologies (literally) and, unless you’re a gamer, you probably haven’t heard of them. Both have to do with user motion-control for the Xbox and PlayStation 3, which directly encroaches on Nintendos long-standing and popular gimmick.

Except Microsoft is taking a different route than the motion controller. They’re taking the controller completely out of the equation by using a host of sensors designed to read your body. Yep, pretend like you’re driving a car, shooting a gun or even fishing and you can play your favorite driving, shooter and fishing games.  If this sounds good to you, then you’re the exact kind of gamer the monopolistic company is looking for, which is to say you’re not (a gamer, that is). You see, this sort of virtual technology has never caught on, and yes, this isn’t its first incarnation.

I remember playing VR games in Vegas nearly ten years ago, and it was lame. Why? Because if you’re pretending to grip a steering wheel, aim a gun or cast a net and there’s nothing in your hand, then you’re going to have no connection with the game you’re playing. But isn’t that the point of video games — to play them, to disconnect from reality? Oh wait, that’s what all entertainment is designed to do. Maybe that’s the thing: to reach a level of gaming where you don’t feel like you’re playing a game. Perhaps this is supposed to make the virtual world more real.  It’s an interesting concept and is the entire idea behind Project Natal. It’s also a giant gamble.

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Best of the App Store

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Tech

It’s spring time again, that wonderful time when I waste money on fun, quirky little iPhone games in order to procrastinate from studying for finals. With the recent arrival of the iPad, not a whole lot of attention is being paid to just regular iPhone apps. Lucky for you, I’m still here to let you know what good apps I’ve found lately in the iTunes App Store.

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The Future Is Nuclear

Written by Jon Schwarzmann on . Posted in Tech

It’s been a very long time since I could say I liked Bill Gates, let alone agreed with him. But in a recent Ted Talk (thanks PopSci), he lauded the efforts of President Obama in pushing for a broader use of nuclear power and even supported the idea. Now, when two people with whom I vehemently disagree most of the time start talking about turning to nuclear power (something I have been saying for years), it deserves a look into why they’re saying it now — especially since these two VIPs come from very “green,” “save the world” backgrounds.

Nuclear power is a very old, very underused, and very misunderstood form of energy.  For 60 years the world was gripped by fear of a “nuclear holocaust,” and the impression this left on the  general psyche of humanity has been far from positive. Also, thanks to Soviet negligence at Chernobyl and American pride at Three Mile Island, actual nuclear plants have been painted as evil, unstable and not worth the “risk” by those of the tree-hugging nature. I’ve always found this opposition to such cheap, enviro-friendly power completely ridiculous. I’m no nuclear physicist (yet), but having studied this alternative numerous times over the past 10 years and followed new technologies introduced to the field, I have to proclaim myself to be well-informed on the matter.

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All Alone, But Still Trying

Written by Jon Schwarzmann on . Posted in Tech

This post may be controversial to some, but I see it as something worth talking about.

I heard about Peter Duesberg last semester in my BIO 1610 class, then I read a Newsweek article about him, entitled “The World’s Most Reviled Genius.” In the article you learn quite a bit about Duesberg, his professional career, as well as some basic science/biology. Duesberg became pretty famous in his pioneering work on finding the causes of cancer back in the ’60s. He set himself apart as a true savant for the next two decades, but then began going in a new direction.

Instead of going along with the whole oncogene origin theory of cancer, to which he contributed, he theorized that aneuploidy is the true cause of cancer. In layman’s terms, this is when a cell has either an excess or absence of chromosomes. Most of the time this isn’t a problem, because cells have “self-destruct” mechanisms that takes over once this condition is recognized, but sometimes it doesn’t happen correctly. Down syndrome is caused by this, but according to Newsweek and Duesberg’s research, this condition is also present in the majority of cancers and tumors. While this isn’t a very popular idea in the U.S., some scientists overseas are starting to take notice of his research.

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Even More Google

Written by Jon Schwarzmann on . Posted in Tech

Well, it seems Google, everyone’s favorite Internet company, is trying to take another leap forward.  This time on two fronts. For one, by promising language translation software that works right from your cellphone. And secondly, with their new social networking tool, Buzz.

Let’s talk cellphone interpreter first. The basic plan is to create software that can translate on the fly, letting us break through a few language barriers as we traipse across the globe. While this would be totally awesome, even with the ambiguous time-table of “a few years” away, I have my doubts on Google being able to accomplish such a lofty goal. Even the most advanced consumer voice recognition software has trouble with basic sentences, despite them being spoken in the most robotic, monotonous voice imaginable.