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April 29, 2007

myspacesecondlife

What happens when you don't have a great idea of your own?

Take two successful ventures and put them together. A social networking site with a virtual reality world tacked to it? Hey...everyone is talking about Second Life, Sweden even has an embassy there.

And EVERYONE has a Myspace. Let's make a myspace WITH a 3D world!

This wil surely get all the people who like both Myspace and Second Life to come to www.kaneva.com

 

Very kanieving...........but.....I can smell the lawsuits coming.


 

April 23, 2007

The roadable aircraft for the masses has arrived.

....as a homebuilder kit right now, with the aircraft being cathegorized as experimental by the FAA.

 

...and it's a flying single seat motorcycle(3 wheeled), not a flying car.Also, it's an autogyro, not an aeroplane...but that's even better because it can take-off and land with very short rollouts. Take-off and landing distance is less than 200 feet. best thing....the rotor folds, so it fits easily in your garage!

 scycycle


 

This beautiful contraption is called the Super Sky Cycle and comes from a company called The Butterfly LLC. They have other gyroplanes available, but the Sky Cycle is the only one that is currently roadable. As in you can get it licensed as a motorcycle and ride to work in it.

The engine can engage the two rear wheels for a highway speed of up to 55mph. Airspeed is said to be over 100mph. This is not lightning fast, but plenty for commuting and pleasure flying.

An enclosed composite body is in the works, which would make this truly practical for the road, especially if you plan on riding into anything other than a typical Florida day.

 

Autogyros(also known as gyroplanes), although they look like helicopters, function on a different principle: The rotor is spun  by incoming air, so some forward speed is needed to fly. For landing, it usually comes in at an angle, then flares, like a helicopter does when autorotating.The engine controls a propeller that generates forward speed.

 

There were autogyros that had the rotor connect to the engine for brief periods, thus allowing vertical take-offs and landings. However, I believe in this case it would make the whole design very complicated and too heavy, because the engine already connects to the transaxle for road usage

 

Best of luck to The Butterfly LLC and we're waiting to see even more roadable models, and maybe certified, production aircraft as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 19, 2007

'Rip ' graphs from anywhere - very useful free tool for scientists and engineers (via lifehacker.com)

The freeware Engauge Digitizer can extract graphs from common image formats such as BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, XPM and export data to Excel, Open Office Calc, Matlab, gnuplot and Mathematica.

Perfect if you want to use that data graph in a book, paper or PDF file for your own project! No more having to manually extract data points from a curve.

This one is a keeper folks. 

Photographs Converted to 3D models (via www.gizmag.com)

This ranks high up in the cool factor if is true. A company called fotowoosh claims to have developed an algorithm to estimate depth in photographs and to transform said photographs into 3d models.

They have some animations on their site showing walkthrough 'inside' a photo and I must admit that the result is stunning.

 

The website doesn't state one way or another, but I have a feeling the algorithm is not fully automatic. I believe the user is prompted to select the correct perspective from various 3D outcomes  the algorithm generates.

As you know, it takes two eyes -2 2D dimensional images - to create perspective in your brain. Fotowoosh would work with only one image, so they lack some information needed to figure out the distance of objects in the photo. The algorithm somehow figures that out by analyzing 'lines' in the photo to determine where objects meet the ground , and also using the horizon somehow as a baseline - although I did see on their website converted indoor photos where no horizon was visible. It also relies on 'training images' - probably images manually converted to 3D.

In any case, if you've seen those optical illusion illustrations where an object appears alternatively to be a solid brick or a missing brick like this one, sometimes even the brain can be fooled when translating a 2D image to 3D. So a computer algorithm would encounter that issue much more often, being that it lacks the power of interpretation based on prior knowledge that humans have.

 

That's why I think the algorithm cannot fully come up with a 3D model on its own. we'll have towait and see.

You can sign up for the fotowoosh beta on their website. 

April 13, 2007

Cool WW2 Cutaway Site

I forgot to mention in the intron on the site that I am also a WW2 buff. Mainly air combat, but also technology of the era in general.

And this site, which I found mentioned in makezine.com, has cutaway drawings of all kinds of military mechanical monsters from the second world war. So now you can see how everything works!

 

Lifting Body Revival

Among the alt.space companies - small private companies that strive to provide cheap(er) commercial access to space - Spacedev stands out because they are planning to build a lifting body design upper stage based on the NASA Langley 1980s potential Shuttle complement Space Transportation System (but thought of a athreat to the Shuttle and thus cancelled...aaarrgh politics suck) HL-20.

Aptly named the Dreamchaser, the reusable craft might be launched into orbit, according to a recent announcement,  atop the Atlas V rocket developed by the United Launch Alliance. Talk about anachronisms. An 80s spacecraft flying atop a 60s rocket, hopefully in the 20-teens. Yes, I know the Atlas has evolved over these 5 decades and is almost nothing like the converted ICBM that put the first American in orbit.
But still...

 

For those interested in lifting bodies and their advantages versus the capsule design currently favored by NASA and most Commercial Access To Space (COTS) providers, this paper which describes the RTLS (return to launch site) abort modes for the HL20 should provide a not so fascinating read.

But since I used it for a presentation during an optimization class in college, I think everyone should read it! :) 


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