Films in 3D without headaches

Without correction (image above) and with correction (image below)

Without correction (image above) and with correction (image below)

Films in 3D without headaches

The Disney Research Lab at the  Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ) has developed a technology that is supposed to eliminate the unwanted side-effects like nausea and headaches resulting from watching films in 3D. 

To generate the 3D-illusion, the he human brain needs two slightly different pictures for the left and the right eye. The greater the difference, the stronger the 3D-effect. However, the risk of getting headaches or nausea also rises. The effect thus needs to be maintained in a certain comfort zone. The algorithm developed at the ETHZ allows for the 3D effect to be corrected after the movie has already been shot. 

Read more at ETHLife Online Magazin (note: the article is in German and while there is an English version of the Magazine an English version of the article is not available as of today) 

Quelle: Le Matin, ETHZ

Experimental solar plane flies overnight

Solar Impulse Aircraft

Solar Impulse Aircraft

Experimental solar plane flies overnight

The experimental solar powered plane named Solar Impulse landed safely at 9:00 at Payerne airfield where it had started at 7:00 one day earlier.

The plane has 12,000 solar panels, a wingspan of 63.4 meters and a weight of only 1,600 kilogram and reached a height of 8,535 meter.

In theory the plane can fly indefinitely said Piccard’s team.

The long-term objective is to fly a second, lighter plane around the world in 20 to 25 days somewhere after 2013.


Toyota Aiming for $ 50,000 Fuel-Cell Car by 2015

It looks like fuel cell cars will be available at acceptable – well, relatively speaking to what they cost now – prices soon.


Toyota says it has cut the cost of building fuel-cell vehicles by 90 percent and could sell its first hydrogen vehicle for $50,000 by 2015.

That’s still a big chunk of change, but a bargain compared to the six- or seven-figure price tags the cars are generally thought to cost now. The exorbitant cost has been among the technology’s greatest hurdles and one reason Honda, General Motors and others lease or loan — rather than sell — the few hydrogen-fuel-cell cars they have on the road.

But Toyota says it has cut the cost of building such cars by 90 percent in recent years. It hopes to cut that by another 50 percent in coming years, so it can can sell an “affordable” mid-sized hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicle. Such a car would offer the same range as a conventional auto “with some extra cost,” says Yoshihiko Masuda, Toyota’s managing director of advanced vehicles.

“Our target is, we don’t lose money with introduction of the vehicle,” Masuda told Bloomberg. “Production cost should be covered within the price of the vehicle.”

Toyota has slashed costs by using one-third the amount of platinum typically found in a fuel cell, Masuda said at a conference in Long Beach, California. It also has reduced the cost of the polymer-electrolyte membrane used in the cell. Both Toyota and GM use about 30 grams of platinum and are cutting that to 10. They also say scaling up to large-scale production would cut costs further.

Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Daimler and Hyundai are among the automakers who hope to have hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road by 2015.

Toyota may team up with Daimler to achieve that goal writes

Toyota’s plan to push a $50,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicle into mass production by 2015 is ambitious, but the automaker may have some assistance from Daimler. New reports suggest the two companies are looking to team up to help expedite and amortize fuel cell development.

Both firms already have significant experience in fuel cell vehicles. Daimler has been playing with the technology since 1994, but Toyota first started experimenting with FCVs back in 1992. Both companies have a number of fuel cell test vehicles on the road, but the cost to build them is nothing short of astronomical. Most estimates suggest each vehicle costs roughly $1 million to manufacture, although Toyota says it has already cut that cost by 90 percent. Still, the company wants to halve that cost before pushing such a vehicle into series production.

One of the reasons for the significant cost is the hundreds of cells used in each fuel cell stack, which produces the power. The cells use a carbon matrix with platinum as a catalyst and each is hand assembled. Hydrogen storage is also a big research topic. Current storage systems that give vehicles a good range eat into cargo space and are extremely heavy.

Well, that’s good news. The main reason why fuel-cell cars are still so expensive is that they are not yet produced in sufficient numbers to bring costs down, but costs will only come down, if there are enough buyers for the cars and their simply are not at current prices. That’s kind of an awkward situation – unless you would kind of make a government stimulus program out of it – you know they did just that for conventional gas and diesel cars in Europe (cash for clunkers) to help out the car makers. Why not do it for fuel cell cars?
At the same time, governments could subsidise the deployment of refueling stations to expand the network where people can fill up their zero-emissions cars.

The Dancing Bridge over the Volga

Around the May 21, I ran across the following story from RIA Novosti:

The new bridge over the Volga River, opened in Volgograd about six months ago, on Thursday evening had to closed to car traffic,  the representative of traffic police told RIA Novosti.

“Around 19.00 (Moscow time) we called the dispatchers of the bridge and asked them to block the traffic on the bridge, citing technical reasons. Now, travel across the bridge is closed in both directions,” – he said.

According to him, representatives of the regional administration, engineers, officers and emergency are now on the bridge.

The new bridge over the Volga, which includes the bridge itself, the right bank and left bank trestles, is 7,11 km long, and was opened in Volgograd, on October 10, 2009, 12 years after the start of its construction. Before the bridge was in operation the only link between the districts of the Volgograd region, located on the right and left banks of the Volga, were the dam of the Volga hydroelectric station and a ferry.

Here’s how this bridge, which is now known in the region as the dancing bridge looks like:

Since then, I haven’t heard much about how the story continued, it seems that the bridge was still closed on May 27, as wrote RIA Novosti:

VOLGOGRAD, May 27 – RIA Novosti, Irina Il’icheva. The Administration of the Volgograd region has decided to postpone for the moment the movement of trucks on the bridge in Volgograd, which is known by the people as the “dancing bridge”, before the completion of all the expert work, said their press service department on Thursday.

Looks like a problem of resonance to me, but I might be wrong. If it is, it might take some time to fix this bridge.

Source: RIA Novosti

When Fragile Becomes Friable by William Black

This is a very readable 12-page explanation of the concept of ‘control fraud’ and its effect on the economy. It was written by William Black in 2005 and its full title is: When Fragile becomes Friable:  Endemic Control Fraud as a Cause of Economic
Stagnation and Collapse.

The original is here, I have also posted it to Scribd for readability and easier dissemination:

A quote from the document:

Neo-classical economics’ understanding of fraud is so weak that its policy prescriptions,
if adopted wholly, produce strongly criminogenic environments that cause waves of
control fraud.  Neo-classical policies simultaneously make control fraud easier and more
lucrative, dramatically reduce the risk of detection and prosecution by maximizing
“systems capacity” problems, and encourage crime by making it easier for fraudsters to
“neutralize” the social and psychological constraints against deceit and fraud.  Thus the
paradox:  neo-classical economic triumphs produce tragedy.

William Black does not say so, but might the failure of neo-classical economics to recognise fraud as a problem be due to the fact that neo-classical economics is a fraud itself, having as its purpose the enriching of a few while everyone and everything else be damned?

The 8.0M Earthquake that didn’t Happen

According to the United States Geological Survey an earthquake happened in or near the Dominican Republic. This looks like this according to the e-mail notification you can subscribe to:

The 8.0M Earthquake that wasn't

The 8.0M Earthquake that wasn't

However, there is no corresponding page to this event, indicating that it didn’t happen. There is nothing on the news services, so I think that must be good news for everyone.

Too bad they didn’t send a cancellation message.

LHC research programme gets underway

CERN LHC Screenshot

CERN LHC Screenshot

It seems that after some initial problems, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN is now fully operational. Says CERN:

Geneva, 30 March 2010. Beams collided at 7 TeV in the LHC at 13:06 CEST, marking the start of the LHC research programme. Particle physicists around the world are looking forward to a potentially rich harvest of new physics as the LHC begins its first long run at an energy three and a half times higher than previously achieved at a particle accelerator.

“It’s a great day to be a particle physicist,” said CERN1 Director General Rolf Heuer. “A lot of people have waited a long time for this moment, but their patience and dedication is starting to pay dividends.”

“With these record-shattering collision energies, the LHC experiments are propelled into a vast region to explore, and the hunt begins for dark matter, new forces, new dimensions and the Higgs boson,” said ATLAS collaboration spokesperson, Fabiola Gianotti. “The fact that the experiments have published papers already on the basis of last year’s data bodes very well for this first physics run.”

The LHC will run for 18 to 24 months. During that time it will gather data that help make significant advances in physics. The LHC will then be shutdown for routine maintenance, and to complete the repairs and consolidation work needed to reach the LHC’s design energy of 14 TeV following the incident of 19 September 2008.

e effort,” said Heuer. “By starting with a long run and concentrating preparations for 14 TeV collisions into a single shutdown, we’re increasing the overall running time over the next three years, making up for lost time and giving the experiments the chance to make their mark.”

Full press release here.