- The FAA is being sued to reveal who has gotten permits to fly drones above 400ft within the US. This isn’t an attempt to further the use of civilian drones (it’s an anti-Big Brother move), but it may push the FAA into changing the permitting rules.
- And again, uses keep popping up for small drones; this time the UAF is using a dinner-plate-sized quadrotor to analyze the ice in front of a fuel tanker on its way to Nome, Alaska.
- Smart homes are getting a bit closer every day – CES just saw a demo of Apple’s Siri semi-AI controlling a number of household devices.
- Here’s a shocker: The US government is taking steps to try to improve the security of the energy grid.
- I’ve seen the idea of using micron-scale capsules of liquid metal or nanoparticles to create self-repairing materials, but they’re back in the news again.
- The US military’s drone war in Pakistan is back online, despite the tensions created by “friendly” fire incidents.
- Stealth tech keeps getting more and more elaborate. This article in PopSci talks about a fluid cloak for submarines, and this one about low-heat-signature tanks.
- Phobos-Grunt, the failed Russian Mars probe, is set to crash and burn into the Indian Ocean this Sunday.
- Do we really need doctors? Or just smarter computers to make medical diagnoses? An interesting question, posed by a writer at Tech Crunch
- And speaking of machines doing healthcare work… CES has shown off some mobile health apps: a blood sugar monitor app and a blood oxygen monitor app.
- Another possible “exercise in a pill” chemical has been found.
- Mineweb has an interesting interview transcript up, focusing on graphite, vanadium, and manganese supplies and usage.
- NASA’s been funding studies on improving aircraft fuel efficiency, and they’ve just said that the technologies that they’ve been working on could reduce aircraft fuel use by 50%.
- There’s a new kind of LED that’s set to come out, which is smaller and has better light quality than the ones currently on the market. There are also a number of new bulbs coming out.
- Forbes has an article comparing the pros and cons of electric vehicles and natural gas vehicles.
- Manymany articles out today on a new design for solar-thermal power plants, inspired by the sunflower: R&D Magazine IEEE Spectrum Wired.co.uk PhysOrg MSNBC Science Daily
- A startup in India is using rice husks and other agricultural waste products to power thousands of residences in rural India. More power to them (sorry, couldn’t help the pun), I hope their business model can successfully continue to expand.
- A new photovoltaic solar system is being tested, in combination with a greenhouse, that will allow light through the panels in the winter, when the plants need it, and convert some of it to energy in the summer, when they don’t.
- I mentioned incentives yesterday, here’s another example: Conservationists are getting increasingly agitated about the increased rate of whaling these days; legal processes don’t seem to work, and illegal ones (Sea Shepherd, for example) don’t have much effect either. So one bright fellow suggested that whaling be governed by quotas like the ones that some countries have set up for catching fish – whalers would have to bid for the right to catch whales, except that in this idea, conservationists would be able to bid as well in order to keep the whalers from catching so many whales.
- Weird biology story: The w0rld’s smallest vertebrate has been announced: A frog, that’s dwarfed by a dime.