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51 Posts authored by: Cabe Atwell

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Intel announced a new license with ARM, that may position it to rapidly manufacture nano-sized chips for mobile use. While AMD has had access to ARM technology for a handful of years, it has little room to compete in the mobile space. (via Intel)

 

Intel dominates the CPU space, but when it comes to mobile, the processor manufacturer falls short. The tech giant has some tricks up its sleeves, however, as it just announced a new license with ARM Holdings that will allow it to use ARM designs in its next model of nano-sized chips, perfect for mobile.

 

Intel announced the new license at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, California. It said it plans to use its 10-nanometer production lines for the advent of new and improved chips for use in smartphones developed by companies like Qualcomm Inc. and Apple Inc.

 

It’s a move to remain competitive in an increasingly shifting space. While Intel remains competitive for CPU chips, its other services have not been considerably successful. Intel’s foundry business, for example, has seen few orders, although the new ARM license could change that. If the space were repurposed for ARM production, Intel’s entry into mobile chip development could be magnitudinous. But Intel will have to remain competitive with long-time rival AMD.

 

AMD is the chip of choice for high-performance functions, such as gaming. While Intel’s chips pack a speedy punch, AMD almost always outprices Intel, which has sustained its business for decades. AMD stock price shot up over 50% in the past few months. Proof in the price.

 

AMD’s Opteron ARM A-Series Processors have been around for years. The Opteron A1100 is suited for the enterprise, with SOC delivery, scalable performance, optimized TCO, and superior energy efficiency. The ARM Cortex-A57 chips also deliver high speed, connectivity, and power with 64-bit processing.

 

AMD’s ARM division, however, targets software and hardware developers, server infrastructure, and data center processing. As such, although AMD’s products may retail for less, the technology is positioned to support back-end processes, not mobile. As such, Intel may still get to the mobile market first, at the nanoscale needed to support rapid production.

 

Intel works quickly. As it already has a foundry facility with serious production capacity, it might not be long before we see the next generation of Intel chips in the latest iPhone update. And if prices remain competitive, that might not be such a bad deal.

 

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Glicode uses popular snacks to teach kids programming; a high school in Japan has a class dedicated to drones. Ever thought of using food to learn about coding?

(Photo from Glicode)

 

It seems Japan really wants to encourage kids to be invested in robotics and coding. Teaching kids how to code is the latest tech fad. Companies approach the topic in various ways, like video games and robotic toys, but only one company is doing it with food. And yes, the company is Japanese. Glico, the maker of popular Japanese snacks like Pocky, has developed an app called Glicode. The app is made to teach kids the basics of coding.

 

So how does Pocky go from delicious biscuit treat covered in chocolate to computer learning? Kids actually use their favorite snacks by Glico with the app. Talk about playing with your food. Users have to position and arrange the snacks in a certain way, so the app can translate it into digital commands. Send the command to the app by taking a picture. If it's done correctly the character on the app can move through obstacles.

 

The app is available for Android outside of Japan. The company is currently working on a version for iOS. It's a weird idea; who would've thought of using food to teach coding? But it's pretty smart. It presents a fun, simple, and tasty way for kids to interact with technology. And you have to imagine they get to eat all those tasty snacks when they get things right. It also encourages creativity. Using snacks shows kids that imagination can make anything possible. The closest the US gets to a unique coding app is Apple's Swift Playgrounds. It's an isometric platform game where kids use basic programming to solve puzzles.

 

Japan doesn't want to only target youngsters, they want the older kids to get in on the action too. Vantan High School, a private school in Japan recently announced a new course dedicated to drones and robotics. The course is a full time three year program that teaches the basics of working and maintaining drones and other robots. The course starts April 2017. And you thought high school shop was cool.

 

The school started the program because they believe there aren't enough human resources to handle the increasing demand for skilled drone engineers in Japan. Some of the things students will be learning include aviation and radio laws, computer programming for system upgrades, and drone piloting. The course will be open to junior high students and existing Vantan learners. These kids will have a leg up on the competition and the focus on robotics may ensure they get some great jobs by the time they graduate.

 

But the US isn't left in the dust. Though high school courses dedicated to drones and robotics isn't common, there is one teacher looking to change that. Lee Butterfield is an Anchorage South High School professor who brought drones into the classroom for demonstrations. Shortly after, he decided to create an entire class around teaching students how to operate drones. Butterfield teamed up with Alaska Aerial Media to create the course where students will learn how to operate unmanned aircraft systems. They will also be prepared to pass the FAA test.

 

More and more classrooms around the country are integrating drones into the curriculam, so it won't be long until we see more courses solely dedicated to teaching kids the basics of robotics. Then maybe we can be as cool as Japan.

 

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Inspiration abounds in this mini-roundup. The next digital revolution is here, and bringing with it gizmos and gadgets that are faster, smarter, and more powerful than ever.

 

Harvard’s B2 flow battery

 

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(Image via Harvard)

 

One such advent is a new battery fashioned by Harvard researchers that is almost identical to the molecular structure of B2 vitamin riboflavin. The scientists were trying to find an organic compound to support the development of flow batteries for renewable energy resources, such as solar energy and wind power. The team wanted to create a high-capacity flow battery that was safer for the environment than current batteries, and stumbled upon riboflavin.

 

In the human body, riboflavin is responsible for converting carbs into fuel. In a flow battery, it exhibits a similar process, with a few molecular tweaks. The result is a high capacity battery that has a simple synthesis process, and is low cost to manufacture. The team will continue to experiment with other organic compounds, but it is one example of what new science can do.

 

UT Delft’s hard drive with 500x the storage capacity

 

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UT Delft’s nano hard drive (image via UT Delft)

 

Another recent development is Delft University of Technology’s new hard drive that has a storage capacity 500 times greater than existing hard drives of its size. The technology relies on a unique atom positioning technique that uses chlorine atoms as data bits. This measure allows the hard drive to store up to 1KB of information per 100 nanometers of width, which equates to 62.5TB of information storage per square inch.

 

The technology can currently only survive in freezing temperatures (77 kelvin) and environments that are extremely clean. The researchers are continuing to expand its capabilities, and believe it could make insufficient data storage on mobile phones and devices a thing of the past.

 

Quantum computers out think us all

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(Image via Google.)

 

On Google’s research blog, quantum software engineer Ryan Babbush noted the successful development of quantum computing has not only opened the door to artificial development of organic structures, but has also enabled rapid computing.

 

Complex chemical problem solving, such as determining the specific reaction rate for propane, can take as long as 10 days for even the smartest chemists to computer. In various trials across quantum labs in the nation, researchers have found quantum qubits can estimate such reactions accurately within a fraction of the time. This allows researchers to expedite ongoing research studies, and even compute seemingly impossible equations, such as the successful development of high-temperature superconductivity. 

 

These are only a few of the technology advances popping up every day. The future is here, so hold your hats and strap in.

 

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The Maker Movement isn’t just gaining in popularity with adults, children are also joining the trend. With a $5-plus billion STEM education initiative backed by the government, and an endless array of making toys dedicated solely to kids, it’s never been easier to teach your kids how to make (and it’s never been more important). (Image via Make Magazine)

 

It’s no secret that the Maker Movement is on the rise. With the market expected to reach a record $6 billion in value next year, makers everywhere are focused to ensure the next generation has the skills necessary to build our future world. And there’s no better place to start than with kids, our own, to be exact. As MakerPro - working engineers, it’s our duty to teach the next generation.

 

In 2013, The Obama Administration rolled out its Five Year Strategic Plan for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education. The federal plan outlined a $5-plus billion initiative to revolutionize the entire U.S. education system by enhancing STEM education from kindergarten through university. The initiative began when a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found U.S. students ranked in the middle-to-lower range in K-12 STEM education globally, compared to students from 32 other countries.

 

In an effort to ensure the United States continued to act as a world leader in technology and innovation, the President proposed the Federal STEM plan, and the nation followed suit. The plan called for the restructuring of K-12 and university programs to increase STEM education and make learning about science and technology fun. Programs like Gever Tulley’s Tinkering School were founded, and a case study conducted by the school found children viewed tinkering as fun, and as a result were more engaged and learned more than using traditional pedagogy methodologies.

 

In fact, another study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University found students retained more information when teaching was supplemented with creative problem solving challenges – exactly the kind of play at the heart of engineering education. In a recent survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found employers prefer to hire engineering and other liberal science majors, due to the curriculums’ emphasis on solving complex problems. And now parents are teaching their kids those skills at home, too.

 

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Via: Fisher-Price

 

While we all learned to tinker alongside our parents in the garage, the new generation of kids has an endless aisle of tinkering toys at its disposal, no matter the age. The Fisher-Price Code-A-Pillar introduces toddlers to the concept of coding by enabling kids to build their own robotic caterpillar. What it can do depends entirely on which body segments are used, but it is simple enough for a toddler to understand. The BoseBuild Speaker Cube allows kids to build their very own high-quality speaker from scratch (and hey, adults can build it, too).

 

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Via: Kiwi Crate

 

For more hands-on learning, there are mail-order making kits like Kiwi Crate, which engage kids with a new STEM-based maker project each month. Maker Shed allows more advanced kids and adults alike to follow along with weekly making tutorials. And programs like Maker Ed and Maker Camp provide spaces where kids can learn together in a hands-on environment.

 

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Via: Twitter: @MakerEdOrg

 

Overall, even if your kids decide not to become professional makers or engineers-by-day, an engineering education gives kids an invaluable skill: problem solving. We face problems every day. The better we can equip our children to solve life’s problems creatively, the more assured we could rest that we have raised successful adults.

 

In a recent student interview conducted by ECN, Abigail May Spohn, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Dayton, said she appreciated the STEM education she received because more than anything, it taught her how to problem solve. And there’s no situation in life where that is not helpful.

 

If your child does decide to pursue a STEM degree, there is no time like the present. The U.S. Department of Education estimates the need for STEM jobs will succeed the number of trained workers. The need for STEM professionals in Biomedical Engineering and Systems Software Developers, for example, is expected to increase by 62 percent and 32 percent, respectively. And that means there is a need to educate our children, now.

 

STEM education and engineering professionals shape our world. Those with the ability to make have the power to create any future they envision. That, truly, is the power of making at its core.

 

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Segments of DNA can perform basic computing functions (NAND), and code the answer by emitting green flourescent protein (GFP) (image via Nature)

 

What happens when the world runs out of silicon? Biological circuits could replace minerals as storehouses of computing power. So far, it’s been much easier to store lots of information using DNA and programming that allows translation between DNA and binary code. What if cells could be programmed to activate certain genes? With the ongoing developments of analogue and digital programming in microbes, that may well happen soon thanks to an effort by MIT.

 

That takes some tinkering, though, because silicon circuits are much easier to design and many more transistors can be packed onto a chunk of silicon than within a single cell. But we’re working on it! So far, researchers at MIT have developed biological circuitry which allows a cell to convert analogue signals into digital ones, with a range of responses. A cell could detect the concentration of acid in the stomach, for example, which triggers different responses based on the intensity of the stimulus. Essentially, the living circuit is composed of a threshold module, which detects a range of analogue signals, and subsequently controls the expression of a recombinase gene, which is turned on or off by inverting it.

 

Expression of the gene regulates the response of the cell to the stimulus. A bacterium could be designed to detect a range of acid concentration, and respond within a certain preprogrammed range using this circuit design.

 

What kind of stimuli would a bacterial circuit be used for? Current investigations underway are to detect the levels of inflammation in the body, levels of glucose in the blood, and treat diseases of the gut with specially designed probiotics. Microbes are already used to produce medically important substances, such as penicillin and morphine. The gene circuitry under development would allow a microbe to produce insulin only in the presence of high blood glucose, for example, which could potentially change medicine in a powerful way.

 

Unlike silicon computer chips, however, microbes reproduce and exchange genes with each other. Engineering microbes to respond to environmental challenges could unleash a host of unforeseen consequences.

 

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The ridges and bumps of the OLED, when mimicking the firefly, enhance its luminescent efficiency (via American Chemical Society, 2016)

 

Who knew that a firefly’s rear end contained the secret to efficient lighting? When aeronautic engineers designed plane wings with structures that imitated a bird’s wing, they reduced turbulence and continue to be used in modern aircraft. Such biomimicry is now enhancing the world of fluorescent lighting and design. Up until recently, fluorescent lights have been designed much like the conventional light bulb, with smooth curvature. Upon examining the structures in the tail of fireflies belonging to the species Pyrocoelia rufa, researchers at the Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology initially noticed marked ridges and nanostructures that give the firefly’s organic light-emitting diode (OLED) console the appearance of honeycomb rather than a smooth bulb.

 

Because the firefly has such an efficient lighting capability, the researchers designed a synthetic replica and tested its efficiency. Using a scanning electron microscope, spectroscopy, and numerical analysis, the team was able to assess the structure of a firefly’s lantern. The synthetic replica was made using micromolding and  polydimethylsiloxane oxidation, which recreated the asymmetrical nano ridges.

 

When tested, the external quantum efficiency had increased 61%. The nanostructures also reduced reflection, which contributed to the increase in light transmission.

 

While the fluorescent lighting and design industry has yet to catch up with mass-marketed  designs that incorporate this research, the efficiency of such a design makes that highly attractive. The cost of making the materials may make scaling production up for a mass market unfeasible currently, but it’s only a matter of time. Advances in molding technology and increased efficiency in the design of synthetic polymers often occur in tandem with other technologies. It may be just a few years before lights designed on the humble firefly appear in our homes. Read more about this effort in the KAIST paper after this link.

 

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Rice University researchers have tested nanocars outside of a vacuum sealed environment (via Rice University)

 

Researchers have been using nanocars, molecular-scale cars that may carry tiny payloads one day, for testing in different vacuum environments for a while. But one group of researchers at Rice University have taken nanocars out of sealed environments and out into the open. The university, who first developed the nanocars, teamed up with North Carolina State University to give the tiny vehicles the ability to move around in ambient environments. “Our long-term goal is to make nanomachines that operate in ambient environments,” said James Tour of Rice University. “That’s when they will show potential to become useful tools for medicine and bottom-up manufacturing.”

 

This new nanocar model has adamantane wheels that are water repellent, which allows them to move on the surface made of glass without getting stuck. Balance is an important key here because if the wheels repel water too much they risk getting stuck in place. Testing takes place on glass surfaces and glass coated with polymer polyethylene glycol (PEG). The plain glass surface was coated with hydrogen peroxide to prevent wheels from sticking while the PEG coated glass offered a non-sticky surface.

 

These test drives are meant to show what makes a nanocar “hit the brakes” and how much energy it needs to exerts to get it moving again. Once the cars hit the track they started running into some problems. The nanocars had a difficult time moving on glass surfaces because they kept get dirty since they were exposed to molecules in the air. Though the molecules are small they still acted like obstacles preventing the cars to continue moving. The nanocars actually moved faster on the PEG-coated surface and twice as many move on these slide than the plain ones.

 

Even though the results were less than stellar, it shouldn't impact their chances at the first ever Nanocars Race in France this fall. The event features five nanocars from different countries including the US, Germany, and Japan and will be “invisible to the naked eye.” A unique microscope based in Toulouse, France will be used so spectators can watch the competition around the world. The track the cars will be racing on is made of single gold atoms dropped on a gold surface. The track is then placed inside a scanning tunneling microscope based at the CNRS Centre d'Elaboration de Materiaux et d'Etudes Structurales (CEMES). The EMES STM is the world's only 4-needle microscope that makes it possible to drive four nanocars at the same time.

 

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Over 10,000 GB can be stored in this tiny pink droplet! DNA storage a possibility? UW and Microsoft partnered up to create a method of accurately storing and recovering hard drive data into DNA snippets. Their latest trial was perfect at recovering data due to their new approach to encryption and decryption. (via University of Washington)

 

Wetware on the way?

 

Microsoft Research has currently decided to change the market for archival data storage by utilizing DNA to store millions of gigabytes of data in a single gram of DNA. However, in order to achieve this feat, which we recently posted about, they have teamed up with some researchers in the University of Washington; they shared their findings in a paper presented at ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems.

 

Their paper elaborates on how Microsoft Research labs have been able to successfully store and retrieve data encoded in synthetic DNA with the help of a collaboration with University of Washington researchers. So far, this team is one of only two researchers to successfully encode and retrieve data stored in DNA with a one hundred percent success rate.

 

So, what’s the secret? The secret seems to lie in the encoding and decryption process. The process used to create and read the DNA is fairly simple. Once they have encoded a chunk of data into letters A, C, G, and T: the nucleotides which are the building blocks for DNA. They then outsource the creation of spinets of DNA strands which utilize their encoded sequence of letters.

 

To retrieve the data, they must sequence the DNA strands which are all together in the same test tube (seen above as a tiny speck of pink). So, of course, the decoding process is more involved than simply finding out the sequencing of the DNA within the test tube: you have to decode it. And here is where this team up of interdisciplinary scientists from Microsoft and University of Washington got it very right!

 

They put the magic into how they chose to encode the data from it’s original bits of zeros and ones into nucleotides A, C, G, and T. They knew that, if they could streamline their process, they would have little to no errors later in the decryption process. Essentially, they tried to make it as streamlined and simple as possible to avoid the errors that come with complexity. But how could they know where each snippet of DNA fell in the full sequence of the data? They encoded zip codes and street address equivalents into each snippet of DNA to correctly place each sequence into the bigger sequence for accurate decryption. A pretty clever and simple solution, right?

 

All in all, their novel approach to encryption and decryption paid off as they were able to restore all of the data from the DNA without any errors or data loss. The whole project is impressive, but this current method can only work for storing archival data that requires no alterations and no immediate access. While this can provide a good service to companies who have large data stores of information, I wonder how practical this really is. On the one hand, one drop of DNA can store about 10,000 GBs. On the other hand, what is our obsession with storing everything?!

 

This can also present a sort of breach of security as companies like Facebook will have a copy of all of your photos and your profile for eternity – long after you choose to delete your profile and cancel your account? Also, with the new compactness of DNA data storage will companies choose to keep archival data forever, rather than for 5-10 years when they run out of hard disk space? Where is the line drawn, and what are the rights of customers if their archival data (which could include SSN and bank information) is stored forever by a company that they no longer choose to actively do business with?

 

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Scientists at Rice University discovered the force field surrounding a Tesla coil is strong enough to cause carbon nanotubes to self-assemble, a phenomenon that could be useful in regenerative medicine.

 

What if carbon nanotubes could self-assemble, and harness enough energy to illuminate LEDs without touch? Thanks to a new research study conducted by scientists at Rice University, now it is.

 

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The process is called “Teslaphoresis” and is the manner by which carbon nanotubes self-assemble into long wires, organized by charge, due to the force field emitted by a Tesla coil. The phenomenon has only previously been observed at the nano level, in ultrashort distances. This new discovery holds promise for expanding the process to allow for new methodologies in science and energy research.

 

In the experiment, researchers observed the effects of a Tesla coil on carbon nanotubes. The scientists observed that the nanotubes not only self-assembled according to positive or negative charge, but also moved toward the coil over considerable distances. Rice chemist Paul Cherukuri led the research team and the project was entirely self-funded.

 

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"Electric fields have been used to move small objects, but only over ultrashort distances," Cherukuri said. "With Teslaphoresis, we have the ability to massively scale up force fields to move matter remotely."

 

The research team plans to continue its work, and believes the phenomenon may have a future impact on the development of regenerative medical practices. The team plans to observe how nanotubes are affected by the presence of several Tesla coils at once.

 

The study findings were published in ACS Nano.

 

 

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I finished the project... quite a bit late. But Happy Easter, none the less!

 

See Part 1 and the design of the Chirping Easter Egg project here: [DIY Project] Build a Chirping Easter Egg - part 1

 

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Could quantum computing render encryption useless? Quantum computer is quickly becoming a reality as MIT and University of Innsbruck researchers have proven that a scalable computer can be created using 5 individual atoms. The possibilities of such an efficient and fast system would render encryptions, like RSA, useless. (via MIT)

 

MIT researchers have made the first real step of solving the big classical issues of factoring utilizing quantum computing. For a while now researchers have been trying to create and use quantum computers which utilize single atoms to generate zeros and ones, but it has been to hard to implement – especially when dealing with more than one atom.

 

MIT and University of Innsbruck researchers have come up with the first step in making a scalable quantum computing system that uses five atoms. The team was able to stabilize the atoms and know exactly where they are in space by ionizing each calcium atom (taking an electron from each) and trapping them within an electric field. Then, they are able to change the states of each individual atom by use of a laser to perform ‘logic gates’ which can act out algorithms.

 

The amazing thing about using atomic ions to perform algorithms is that they can be in a multitude of states simultaneously instead of just registering as zero or one to form each bit of data (used in traditional computers). Within a quantum computer, each atom can register as both zero and one simultaneously – making it possible to run two different calculations simultaneously. These different, atomic-scale units are called ‘qubits’. When an atom is performing parallel operations, lasers are used to create a ‘superposition,’ which makes qubits possible.

 

Within the new quantum computing system developed by Issac L. Chuang and his team, each atom can be in two different energy states at the same time (again, called a superposition). Lasers are used to entice superpositions for 4 of the 5 atoms within their computer and the 5th atom is used to store, forward, extract, and recycle the data.

 

All of this is basically a scientific way of saying that this latest innovation in quantum computing makes it easier to do way more with way less resources. In order to prove this point, this scientific team put their computer to the test by having it demonstrate factoring using Shor’s algorithm: the most efficient algorithm ever created to factor numbers. However, factoring becomes extremely time consuming and difficult – even for the best technology we have on hand. Hence, this new conceptual computer’s ability to successfully handle Shor’s algorithm with more success and ease than other models is a worthy proof of concept.

 

However, before you get too excited, know that they only factored the number 15 using their new quantum computer design and Shor’s algorithm. It was able to do so successfully 99% of the time, which is a great breakthrough in this particular field. It still may be a little while until this type of technology is scaled up to tackle bigger problems and become a stable in commercial and consumer computers alike.

 

For now, everyone is just ecstatic that the computer actually works and is using 5 single atoms to get the job done – something that seemed improbable before. The design is supposed to be scalable, so with enough funding future scientists can easily build a computer that uses 15, 20, or 100 individual atoms. For the future, the emergence of this technology means that encryption technology based upon factoring will become obsolete. Currently, factorial encryption is used to protect everything from banking information to national secrets. Hence, now would be the time to come up with a better solution to online security.

 

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I am smitten with the idea of the beeping Easter Egg for visually impaired kids - see this post for more.

 

Despite digging around, I couldn't find any designs or diagrams for their egg. So, I designed my own.

 

Originally I thought of using a Raspberry Pi Zero, but later realized it was over the top for what's necessary. … plenty can still be made without a microcontroller. This beeping Easter Egg uses the age old 555 timer. (For those who may attempt to make one too, the 10K resistor with the star around it sets the time between beeps.)

 

Above is the “schematic.”

 

UPDATE: (3/26/2016) Couldn't build the circuit... only 555s I had were burnt out. Radioshack doesn't carry components anymore. So sad...

 

UPDATE 2: The drawing above would place the beeps out a little awkward. Try changing both resistors to 10K. Based off this site - Astable 555 Square Wave Calculator

 

UPDATE 3: I finally built the project. My original 555 time was indeed broken. Swapped out, worked perfectly! See the build here: [DIY Project] Build a Chirping Easter Egg - part 2

 

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A bomb squad in St. Charles hardwired Easter eggs to make a chirping sound so children with special needs would be able to participate in an egg hunt for the first time. (Care of Roberto Rodriguez of St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

 

I love this story.. and idea. What a great event for visually impaired kids/people. I find it very inspiring.

 

The St. Charles County bomb squad in Missouri recently used their tactical skills to tackle a new challenge. The team used its electronics background to make chirping Easter eggs that enabled visually impaired children, children with autism, and children with mobility challenges to participate in an Easter egg hunt for the first time.

 

Although Easter has its roots in the biblical story, many adults today celebrate the day with tons of sweets and candy. In fact, a recent survey revealed Americans spend more on candy for Easter than Halloween. Americans are projected to spend $2.4 billion this year on Easter alone, but children with disabilities are rarely able to participate in the fun. The St. Charles County bomb squad wanted to change that.

 

Corporal Steve Case is the bomb squad commander. In a recent interview with NPR he revealed he has an 18-year-old son with autism, and the drive to create the event for special needs kids was a personal one. The team realized that the challenge for kids with disabilities lies in their inability to see the eggs, or to more easily discern what they’re looking for. The team thought if it could make the eggs chirp, the kids could have a shot at finding the eggs; and it worked.

 

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The squad making the chirping eggs. I wish they shared their design.... (via Fox2News)

 

The team essentially hid beepers inside of plastic Easter egg shells. The eggs chirped continuously until the children found an egg, and their electronic one was swapped for one filled with candy or toys. The eggs had a fairly simple design, with a rigged on/off switch along the side and a battery stashed away in the interior. Case said while steady hands and an understanding of electronics comes with the territory of bomb deactivation, making the eggs function was still challenging for the team.

 

Still, Case would agree the payoff was well worth the effort. This year’s hunt was one of the first Case had the chance to witness. He told NPR he knows what it’s like to be excluded from events due to a child’s disability. He hopes the initiative becomes an annual one.

 

The team ran several egg hunts for children with different kinds of disabilities – vision impairment, mobility challenges, and autism. One parent told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch her son’s face lit up when he found a chirping egg – perhaps one of the first times he’s been able to participate in a community egg hunt due to autism. For Case, that makes it all worthwhile.

 

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A sample of what Operator looks like. Created by Hoefler & Co this font focuses on tricky punctuation (via Typography)

 

Typefaces affect how we see things. There's the standard Times New Roman that you can't go wrong with or the dreaded Comic Sans, which is met with derision. Not only is font an important element is reading and typing, it's also important when it comes to coding. Operator Mono, founded by Jonathan Hoefler, is a new font that's supposed to make life easier for programmers.

 

Hoefler got the idea from Monospace or fixed-width typefaces, which are closely related to vintage typwriters. He wanted a similar font to use in programming with some fine tuned adjustments. “In developing Operator,” says Hoefler “we found ourselves talking about JavaScript and CSS, looking for vinyl label embossers on eBay, and renting a cantankerous old machine from perhaps the last typewriter repair shop in New York and unearthing a flea market find that amazingly dates to 1893”

 

Operator pays special attention to things like brackets, braces, and punctuation marks, which often make or break a code. The font is also supposed to make it easier to identify the difference between I, l, and 1 or colons and semi-colons by using color and italics making them easier to spot in endless code. The font comes in two varieties: Operator which is natural width and Operator Mono which is fixed width. Both are available in nine different weight from thin to ultra and includes both roman and italic small caps throughout. Both types are supported by companion ScreenSmart fonts, which are designed for user in browsers at test sizes.

 

Those interested in the font can purchase it starting at $200 from Hoefler & Co. It's a hefty price to pay to make programming easier, especially when there are a number of alternatives out there. A quick Google search will bring up the best fonts to use for programming. They range from Consolas to Monaco. Sites like Slant will even show the pros and cons of each type of font along with where you can get it. Many of the fonts are inexpensive, some are even free.

 

Operator has good intent behind it, but people who have been programming for years may not want to pay that much to have color and italics added to their typeface. Seasoned programmers know the errors and trip ups they have to keep an eye out for, so maybe this new font won't appeal to them. But for those who are new to the field and have extra money to burn may want to look into this new typeface.

 

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Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a way to record and retrieve data on the fifth dimension. The process involves using light to read information on nanostructured glass. The data files can last billions of years and are being used to store the most influential documents of our civilization to preserve our memory long after we are gone. (via U of Southampton)

 

Our civilization is obsessed with understanding and uncovering the past. Much of what we know about past civilization, however, has been pieced together by education assumptions and preserved artifacts. But what if we had a way to preserve the most important beliefs and documents of the era to ensure the civilizations to follow can continue to progress mankind, and learn from our mistakes? Well now, they can.

 

Researchers from the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre have spent the past few years perfecting data storage in the fifth dimension. The new technology can store 360TB of information, withstand temperatures of 190 degrees Celsius for 13.8 billion years, and are considered to be very stable overall. The portable discs of memory are being used to store huge archives of data, including the King James Bible, Magna Carta, Newton’s Opticks, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and that’s just the beginning.

 

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Aussie researchers base the technology on nanostructured glass, or fused quartz. The glass is encoded with femtosecond laser writing, which results in three small layers of dots separated by five micrometres. When light is shined through the small, circular storage files, the polarization of the light is modified, and the data can be read. The writing, however, must be read through an optical microscope and polarizer.

 

The researchers compare the innovation to Superman’s memory crystals. They say the files are five dimensional because of the 3D position of the nanostructured quartz itself, in additional to the nano size and orientation of the technology overall. The technology was demonstrated successfully at the UNESCO International Year of Light ceremony in Mexico.

 

ORC Professor Peter Kazansky said the innovation is thrilling in its ability to preserve the monuments of our civilization; that what we learned will be remembered. The technology has the capability to record entire libraries, and there’s no telling what information the researchers will transform into the timeless files.

 

The researchers will presented their findings at The International Society for Optical Engineering 2016 Conference in San Francisco, CA, last week. The researchers hope to commercialize their innovation, and are seeking industry partners to make this possible. 

 

 

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