11 Brilliant Inventions From Popular Science's Best of What's New 2008
Popular Science has announced its Best of What's New awards for 2008; they are all brilliant inventions, but some are phenomenal! There were 11 categories of best invention awards ranging across a wide spectrum of technology, from automobile to security technologies. One of the 11 winners was named the Grand Award Winner... see if you can guess which one!
1. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Auto Tech Award: 2009 Nissan GT-R
One of the fastest cars on the road, the Nissan GT-R was rated as the "sports-car value of the year, if not the decade." Popular Science say that the 193 MPH, $77,000 sports car has at least the performance of a $200,000 sports car.
Extremely high performance, the GT-R revs up faster than a Lamborghini, going from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds. Twin clutch system, aluminum block engine that heats up fast, adjustable shock absorber, and a control panel that may tell you more than you need to know are just some of the extraordinary features of the 2009 Nissan GT-R. (See runners-up in this category.)
2. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Aviation & Space Award: NASA Mars Lander
Was there life on Mars? Well, we finally have a pretty strong clue that there may indeed have been life there (Martians, you think?), thanks to NASA's solar-powered Phoenix Mars Lander. The Lockheed Martin-built space craft was equipped with the most sophisticated robotic equipment ever to mount a spaceship, and was able to detect water-formed ice crystals just a few inches from the top of the soil. The robotic laboratory, including microscopes, electro-chemistry analyzers, high-temperature furnaces, and mass spectrometers broke down the materials all while on Mars, and (Beam me down, Scottie) sent the information back to the scientists at the University of Arizona. The Phoenix Mars Lander was also able to take the best photographs ever taken from space. The Martian may shut the spacecraft down for good, as Mars becomes totally dark for several months; however the solar-powered Lander has been outfitted with a "Lazarus mode," to help it survive the winter and bring it back to life in the spring. (See runners-up in this category.)
3. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Computing Award: Maxis Spore
Spore, the growingly popular computer game is the brilliant creation that allows players to create their own characters, one body part at a time, from a selection of body parts offered. Same is true for objects and surroundings. And once you have concocted your characters, Spore animates them for you, very intelligently, even giving your character a personality. Your character then gets to interact with other characters created from Spore's database of 30 million other creatures. (See runners-up in the Computing category.)
Spore was also named as one of Popular Mechanics10 Most Brilliant Gadgets of 2008. Spore is available for sale here.
4. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Engineering Award: Large Hadron Collider
The 'biggest experiment in the world," the Large Hadron Collider is a 17 mile circular tube that was built 300 feet underground by 10,000 engineers and physicists for $10 billion, by the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Residing on the Swiss-French border, the Hadron Collider's prime purpose is to prove or disprove the theory of the Higgs boson, the particle that is the basis for our current physical understanding of matter or mass. Though opened in September, the Large Hadron Collider, which contains 1,200 superconductive magnets, had a problem with two of the 35 ton magnets, causing a delay of several months in the re-opening. (See runners-up in the Engineering category.)
5. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Gadget Award: 3M MPro 110
Ushering in a new wave of digital displays, the 3M MPro (micro-projector) uses LED technology to bring a projector size down to the size of an iPhone. Right now the device is an accessory to a computer or other handhelds, but by next year it is "projected" to be an embedded component of handheld technologies from cell phones to cameras. The 3M Pro displays at standard TV quality (640 by 480 pixels) and projects up to a 50 inch diagonal image in a dark room -- a 10 inch diagonal in bright rooms. Available here. (See runners-up in the Gadget category.)
See related article about the PicoP micro-projector.
6. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Green Award: EcoRock
Finally, there's a new drywall technology and it's green! Called EcoRock, the compound is made of 20 different materials that are industrial by-products And the compound is so green that it congeals without heat, but with water. Serious Materials tried out 5,000 recipes before finding EcoRock, which costs about the same as high-end drywall. What is definitely cost saving about EcoRock is that it is impervious to mold and termites!
Drywall, invented in 1917, is made of ground-up gypsum rock which, heating in 500 degree kilns, producing 20 billion pounds of greenhouse gases per year. (See runners-up in the green tech category.)
7. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Health Award: Recellularized Heart
Under the heading Believe It Or Not, a biologist at the University of Minnesota, Doris Taylor, has discovered a way to make heart transplants more successful. By removing the cells of the donor heart and replacing them with the patient's cells, a "recellularized heart" would reduce waiting time for donated heart organs and minimize the risk of patient rejection of the new heart.
Currently, about half of the patients receiving heart transplants die within five years, despite current repair procedures and drugs available to minimize rejection. Ms. Taylor has perfected her procedure in rats and expects, if all goes well, that the new transplant procedure will be available for humans in about 10 years. (See runners-up in the Health category.)
8. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Home Entertainment Award: Sony XEL-1 OLED Television
Sony's first organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV is only 3 millimeters thin, produces unbeatable color and the highest contrast possible in a TV. Years in development, Sony was able to produce only an 11 inch screen in OLED, because a special glass is needed for OLED circuitry, which is not produced in large sheets. Once retooling is done to accommodate a larger screen, Popular Science is predicting other TV manufacturers will jump in and, in the meantime, Sony will be making OLED TV's thin enough to stick on your wall. But for right now, Sony is the pioneer. Available for sale here.
(See Pop-Sci's runners-up in the Home Entertainment category.)
9. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Home Tech Award: JHRG Storm-A-Rest
Tested to hold up during category 4 hurricanes, Storm-A-Rest turns out to be better than plywood boards at protecting windows from crashing into your home and letting the wind and rain destroy the rest. Storm-A-Rest is a shade that is installed on the outside of your windows. It is made from a very dense fabric made from Honeywell Spectra fibers and coated for waterproofing. Available from stormarest.com. (See runners-up in the Home Tech category.)
10. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Recreation Award: Shimano Dura-Ace 7970 Di2
Used extensively in the 2008 Tour de France, the Shimano electronic gear shift has made a grand impression on biking enthusiasts. The difference is that the shifter is actually a switch that sends a message to a CPU in the front derailleurs of a bike, that send messages to the front and rear cog motors to move the chain. There are no steel cables to frustrate shifting in the Di2's, and Pop Sci predicts that they won't be coming back. The Shimano Dura-Ace 7970 Di2 is available on some high-end bikes (see bike.shimano.com). (Check out the runners-up in the Recreation category.)
11. Popular Science Best of What's New 2008 Security Award: Thruvision T5000 Security Camera
Security is not just about what 's going on at the airport check-in or the stadium entry. Today's security focuses on a greater range of detection, on what's outside of the "checkpoints" as well. British firm Thruvision has created an electromagnetic camera that picks up T-ray (terahertz wave) signals from persons and objects in its scope. Called the T5000, the camera detects the unique signals of objects from a distance of up to 80 feet, while detecting the human signals as well. The picture that is recorded, however, is a "G" rated human silhouette, not an X-rated one. Thus, without using x-ray devices that can be harmful and impinge on personal privacy, the T5000's can spot a range of concealed devices that have potential danger, like weapons, drugs, and liquids. The T5000 cameras are already in several U.S. airports and are being used by the U.S. Defense Department. (See runners-up in Security category.)
Pretty awesome array of inventions here, don't you think? Which one did you think should win the grand prize, Popular Science's Innovation of the Year? Here's the one that Popular Science picked.
via Popular Science and websites of the award winners.
Note: The writer and/or the site may have received free samples or some other type of remuneration or benefit for trying out, reviewing, recommending or writing about the items covered in this article.