International Intonation – March 6, 2013

Mark Hendricks, Contributor Ω

Printing a car

Imagine being able to press a button, leave and then come back to a complete car. That’s exactly what is happening at Kor Ecologic, owned by engineer Jim Kor.

Kor’s new car, the Urbee 2, is a hybrid car that is created using 3-D printers. The entire process takes 2,500 hours of printing time but is fully automated.

Once the production process starts there is nothing to do but wait as the printers fabricate the car with computer-like precision and with fewer individual parts.

By having full control over the thickness and combining what typically are multi-part components like a dashboard into one piece, Kor Ecologic is able to reduce weight while maintaining strength.

Kor plans on taking his new prototype on a trip from San Francisco to New York on only 38 litres of gas. That’s the equivalent of driving from Vancouver to Montreal on less than a tank of gas.

Where you can find out more: www.wired.com

A laboratory rat at Norvartis pharmaceutical research. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NOVARTIS AG

A laboratory rat at Norvartis pharmaceutical research. – PHOTO COURTESY OF NOVARTIS AG

Rodent telepathy

Duke University scientists led by neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis have electronically connected the brains of two rats, allowing them to sense what the other is thinking.

The experiment used two rats that were in separate rooms. When a light went on, the rats were able to press a lever to get food. The catch was the light would only turn on in one of the rooms.

By linking the brains of these two rats, when the lights went on in one rat’s room, the second rat was able to sense this, press his corresponding lever and get food.

This works because the rats have electrodes implanted in their motor cortices, so when one rat sees the light, it triggers certain neurons. That signal is then sent electronically to the other rat.

This was also attempted over longer distances –  North Carolina to Brazil – and other than the signals taking longer to be sent over the Internet, the exact same result happened.

When one rat saw the light, the other knew.

The experiment had a success rate of 85 per cent.

Where you can find out more: www.popularmechanics.com

U.S. giving aid to Syrian rebels

Rebels in Syria are currently engaging President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. The rebels have fought every step of the way and now they can count on one thing they didn’t have before: U.S. aid.

The U.S. government has pledged $60 million in non-lethal aid, which includes medical supplies and MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) rations.

Another $60 million will also be given to aid the anti-Assad coalition in providing basic services and training so the rebels can play an active role in the country’s governance after Assad is removed from power.

This aid is in addition to non-lethal aid provided by Britain that includes vehicles, bulletproof vests and night-vision equipment.

Where you can find out more: www.nytimes.com