Ride This Robot

Four years into development, Micromagic Systems is officially unveiling the Mantis — a giant all-terrain “hexapod” robot.

It’s powered by a 2.2-liter turbo diesel engine, it can be piloted remotely, even via wi-fi. It’s over nine feet tall and can traverse any type of ground, including rocks, mud, and babies.

For more about this robot and our future overlords, head over to the Mantis website. For everything else, check out the About section of this Vsauce2 video.

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60,000 RPM? Yes please.

Understanding the broad stokes of current electric hybrid Kinetic Energy Regeneration Systems (KERS) is pretty straight forward. They are electrical motors that augment gas engines. Electrical motors become generators when use for braking; they recapture kinetic energy.

The engineers at Flybrid Systems are taking a less traveled road. They are storing energy by spinning a flywheel at just shy of the speed of light.

Flybrid 60,000 RPM? Yes please.

The system captures energy from the drive train when the driver lets off the gas. Instead of friction brakes clamping down on the spinning disc rotor, that torque is used to accelerate the flywheel. That kinetic is stored in the spinning flywheel, to be released back into the drive train when you hit the throttle.

As torque is delivered back to the drive train the flywheel slows down. When the driver slows, the kinetic energy is used to spin the flywheel faster, adding drag to the drive train that feels like braking.

Flybrid schematic 450x353 60,000 RPM? Yes please.

Right now mechanical KERS it’s used mostly in racing cars (but not Formula 1 which uses electrical energy storage) but it has been deployed to some capital vehicles like buses and garbage trucks.

One massive advantage to mechanical hybrid systems is that you can retro-fit existing vehicles without redesigning them from the ground up; it’s a sort of bolt-on solution. From a conservation perspective it is far preferable to increase the efficiency of existing vehicles rather than consuming additional resources necessary to build another vehicle from the ground up, so cheers to you, Flybrid.

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5 survival uses for high-proof alcohol

1. Stove fuel: Maybe you have an alcohol-burning camp stove, or your made one like the beer can stove in our survival by beer gallery (link). For that type of stove, you’ll need some very high-proof liquor (like Everclear, if you can legally get it where you live) to efficiently cook your food and boil your water.

2. Wound management: It’s going to hurt, but alcohol could be used as an aggressive disinfectant on topical wounds. This is a pretty rough way to practice field medicine, but it is on the table as a last resort.

3. Pain management: From broken legs to broken hearts, lots of folks find solace in a sip or two of the good stuff. It’s not a perfect pain killer, but it may be all you have in a pinch. Just make sure your booze is the drinking kind. Denatured alcohol, rubbing alcohol, methanol, and many other alcohol products are toxic.

4. Bartering: Whether you drink alcohol or don’t, there will always be plenty of folks around who will want some. In the event of a prolonged disaster, alcohol (along with cigarettes and caffeine) could be a very valuable trade good.

5. Gear disinfectant: You could disinfect your gore-covered knife, the dirty drinking hose to your Camelback, or a host of other filthy things with some high-test booze. Think of it as hand sanitizer for everything else.

And if you’re not going to use it as a stove fuel, it helps start a fire. Although alcohol stoves are lightweight and really clean-burning, meaning that if you’re desperate, they can also be used to heat a tent,  provided you don’t have candles (and cook in it in a pinch). You can spend money on alcohol stoves but they’re simple enough to make, obviously, out of you know, trash.

But they lose points for not listing the best reason: getting blotto in the woods. Duh.

Anyway, 5 survival uses for high-proof alcohol.

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Gas prices could hit $2.50 a gallon by November, analyst predicts

6625148339 6b552b71ee b 450x302 Gas prices could hit $2.50 a gallon by November, analyst predicts

Single-digit gas prices to two decimals. (img by Steve Snodgrass)

tl;dr the Saudis are probably America’s bitch.


 Gas prices have been dropping steadily in Massachusetts since April, and according to at least one analyst, that may just be the tip of the iceberg.

Energy analyst Philip Verleger told Bloomberg TV that U.S. drivers could see $2.50-a-gallon gas prices by November.

The cause is two-fold, he said: the price of oil has fallen sharply recently due to over-production in Saudi Arabia and falling demand due to Europe’s economic slowdown is also a factor, said Verleger. (more…)

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Stop wasting gravity!

Three Gorges Dam1 Stop wasting gravity!

No fault line to see here, move along people. (img by China Absolute Tours—The Friendliest And Trustworthy China Travel Agency)

China does not have the luxury of energy inefficiency going forward. While the rest of the world has been able to use shitty power-generation to build infrastructure and now must, at its own pace, go green, China knows it must start green, because the costs of going green in the future will be so overwhelming for the country that it can’t afford not to.

China leads the world with waste energy capture technologies. For example, in order to produce cement for concrete, you need to calcinate limestone by roasting the shit out of it. Where the rest of the world just lets the lime cool naturally, in China, they use cooling lime and escaped heat from the calcination process to run generators.

There’s energy all over begging to be recaptured. In China, you don’t even waste gravity.

It is common sense that elevators require electricity to run.  However, going beyond our expectations, this elevator can generate electricity while in operation.  The carriage load and its counter weight blocks are often unbalanced during elevator operation.  In the generation mode, the relative movements between the carriage and the counter weights enable the traction motor.  With the use of high precise technologies, we can collect and reuse the electricity generated by the motor, this bringing about “elevator-generation”.

None of these technologies generate more energy than the processes they feed on, but they do make them more efficient. You can think about the disparities between China’s energy policy and the rest of the world while you recapture your waste energy with the nPower PEG (Personal Energy Generator), a little kinetic energy generator that bounces around your shit while simultaneously keeping your shit charged.  (more…)

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Conserve people, and you’ll conserve nature.

3pchhr Conserve people, and youll conserve nature.

(img by the internet)

Here’s a novel take on conservationism: make it anthropocentric.

…we must accept the irreversibility of the Anthropocene. Our impact on the environment can be traced back even further than we always thought – and nature itself has been continually changing since long before we came around. It is neither tenable nor desirable to protect nature from our influence. Rather, Kareiva tells us, conservation efforts must be structured around human life and our influential place in the larger ecosystem.

This means taking steps that ‘traditional’ ecologists might consider blasphemous. Conservation decisions must be based on value judgments – evaluations of value to human life – rather than on the a priori assumption that all human life is naturally destructive to the thriving of ecosystems.

This makes a lot of sense to me. I’d like to see if it gains traction… and how it plays out.

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