Ego Box monitors web hits

[Bogdan's] latest project is a box that displays web hits for a chosen site. He calls it the Ego Box because depending on how traffic goes it either bloats or crushes your ego. This provides similar functionality as our Troll Sniffing Rat but the biggest difference is that this is a stand-alone Ethernet device. That’s thanks to the ENC28J60 Ethernet controller chip which manages the stack and has been quite popular in DIY electronic projects. In order to monitor your hits [Bogdan] crafted a bit of code to add to the header of your index page. It increments the counter file each time the page is loaded, and the Ego Box simply monitors that file, displaying the traffic on an eight digit 7 segment display.

[via Adafruit]

Hack together some science stuff, win money


Ok hackers, it is time to show what you are made of. [Michael] has issued a challenge. He is willing to pay for hacked together science tools that meet some accuracy and price  requirements. You could win money for doing what most of you are already doing. He needs a few specific things, so go to his site to see what he’s looking for. The goal here is to bring scientific equipment down to a price level that allows a broader audience  to access it. Come on guys, it’s for science!

[via Makezine]

Sticky tape emits x-rays

Wired posted a gallery covering an interesting phenomenon. When you unroll regular sticky tape it emits visible light, but what was recently discovered is that under vacuum it actually emits x-rays as well. They’re still trying to nail down the cause. Have a look at the gallery of UCLA’s research lab to see what kind of equipment you need to unroll tape in a vacuum.

Space elevator a real possibility

The space elevator may be a very real possibility within our lifetimes. Previously the stuff of science fiction novels, scientists and engineers around the world will continue their discussion at a conference in Japan this November. The space elevator’s basic design would include a cable that is anchored to the Earth’s surface, and on the other end, tens of thousands of kilometers away, a counterweight for balance. The space elevator could be used to solve many different problems, from nuclear waste disposal to powering homes with solar panels.

The technology driving the development of the space elevator is the carbon nanotube. Its lightweight properties and tensile strength, over 180 times stronger than steel cable, make it the ideal cable for the space elevator. Currently there are several logistical problems, which range from designing a carbon nanotube strong enough to support the elevator to finding an ideal site to design and build the elevator, which would require international consensus and input. Several organizations are working on space elevator designs, and NASA is holding a $4 million Space Elevator Challenge to encourage designs.

Science fiction, help or hindrance?

[Annalee Newitz] from io9 has written a piece about how science fiction can impact the public’s perception of scientific research. She’s covered stories ranging from Frankenstein, for showing the negatives of humans “playing god”, to The Diamond Age, for showing an inspiring use of nanotechnology.

We wonder what direct impact science fiction has had on research. Depictions of a 3D metaverse have always been compelling, but is pouring effort into half measures like Second Life a waste of time compared to serious computer interaction research?

We discussed this for a little while and concluded that whether inspiring or hindering, the very act of critically thinking about technology was beneficial. What books have inspired you in the past? Was it because they showed a better world or were they a stern warning?