Published on July 12th, 2012 | by Fred Betzner2
New Tech Round-Up: Army Lightning Guns, Paintable Batteries, and the Pending Robot War!
Hey Space Cadets, we are BACK with another NEW TECH ROUND-UP!!! After taking an extended sabbatical to begin construction of the first church of the Higgs boson, we are happy to return to collecting the latest news from the tech world and using it as an excuse to make dick, fart, and obscure Doctor Who jokes. As always, links to the original stories that I got all this stuff from can be found at the bottom of the post. And without further ado:
If they’re going to shoot lightning, they better put wings on those helmets.
The U.S. Army has made it known that they are working on technology that would allow a bolt of lightning to be targeted and fired along the length of a laser beam, presumably for use against invading hordes of frost giants. If I understand the science correctly–and I do hold degrees in Spaceotology and Nerdagomi (the art of making lifelike images of Star Trek characters out of folded paper)–the device would fire a laser so powerful it would rip the electrons off of air molecules, creating the lightning as it goes. If the Army were to weaponize this technology, it sure would give new meaning to the term “shock trooper.” Huh? Guys?
Anyway, there are still a ton of problems they need to work out, like making sure it doesn’t blow itself up before actually killing whatever it’s being aimed at, how to make it portable, and how to get it to hit something more than once. But the benefits of replacing all of our soldiers’ guns with a weapon like this are obvious: it’s intimidating, looks awesome, and the only thing that stops lightning is rubber. Let’s just hope some criminal mastermind fashion model doesn’t find a way to become invincible to the only weapon we have.
Ronco Spray-on Battery works just like a real battery, only this one’s from a can!
Absurdly smart people at Rice University have developed a lithium ion battery that can be painted onto literally any surface. They took the component layers of a normal battery–the ones that are already so small that they can power your smartphone for hours on end but still let that device fit in your pocket–and said “F*$# you battery, be smaller!” Then they realized this alone wouldn’t work, so they liquified it. This is their battery, made of ceramic tiles and solar cells:
Now I know what you’re saying, “Shut up idiot, I made a battery out of a potato when I was 15, big f*&#ing crap!” But here’s the thing, these people weren’t taking fifth grade science when they should have been learning how to drive, and their thing could actually change the world.
Lithium ion batteries require a large amount of rare earth metals, which as the name implies, are sort of hard to come by. By reducing the amount of them we need, we make the technology cheaper. By reducing the size and allowing solar panels to be incorporated onto the design, they make energy more available. Hence no more wars for oil, world peace is achieved, and everyone can get back to focusing on what really matters: coming up with new applications for bacon.
The Not So Awesome
Yeah, well, “Rock” definitely beats “Off Switch.”
You may have noticed that this edition of NTR-U® has been split into categories of Awesome and Not Awesome. I know, I thought it was a great idea too. And here we are at the Not Awesome, and while the following developments–taken separately–might not seem that bad, I submit to you that they mark a significant step towards the inevitable war with our own robotic creations!
The Japanese have created a robot that can play rock-paper-scissors against a human opponent AND CANNOT LOSE! It could be said that the robot cannot lose only because it is cheating, however it only “cheats” because its camera eye can see the shape its opponent’s hand is forming, then can recognize that shape and throw the counter shape in the course of one millisecond. That’s not cheating, that’s being good at a game!
OK, if the New England Patriots film another team during practice and memorize their patterns and calls, that makes them filthy, dirty, cheating cheaters with no sense of fair play or souls. If, however, a player can watch a quarterback, and through knowledge of football and years of experience determine where he’s going to throw the ball and intercept it, well that’s just being awesome at football.
R-P-S Robot is just using knowledge of the rules and the gifts that God–or, well, the Japanese–gave it!
And hence the problem. Look, Japanese scientific community, I know y’all are kind of super obsessed with robots–I’m pretty sure your president can turn into one to fight space monsters–but this has gone too far! You’ve given them EYES! And hands that can make not only a fist, but eye poking fingers and a palm for slapping! You’re two robots away from a cyborg Three Stooges!
My god, they’re targeting Piano Cat.
Yeah, Google fed a 16,000-processor computer something like 4 billion YouTube videos, and at the end of the 16 seconds it took the thing to watch all of them, it knew what a cat was. The Google folks didn’t say, “Hey computer, this is a picture of a cat, pick one out in all these videos.” No! It looked at the videos with no other previous information and said that’s a cat. THAT’S LEARNING!
If it can learn to pick out a cat, it can learn to shoot a gun. Only The Doctor can save us now!
Well, that’s it for this week, kiddies. Until next time, it might be best to lock up your toaster at night. Can’t be too careful.