Category Archives: Gadgets

Is Progress Outpacing Precaution? Experts Weigh In

Illustration by An Arres.

No one expects the machinery of progress to roll backwards, but sometimes it seems that no one is watching the speedometer (or manning the brakes, assuming any exist).  Is this a fair assessment? If so, should we be worried — and what can we do about it?

In this feature, experts on technology, risk, science, policy and neuroscience discuss risk, innovation and how our values affect our conceptions of both.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
ASU Experts Weigh the Risks of Innovation

Biomarker-Based Concussion Test Passes Key Milestone

Diagram by Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator; C. Carl Jaffe, MD, cardiologist.

In one five-year period, college athletes suffered more than 10,000 concussions — one-third of them while playing football. But an unusual team-up has recently brought a new, biomarker-based concussion test one step closer.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
TGen, ASU And Riddell Team Up To Create New Concussion Test

Amazon’s Alexa is Belle of the CES 2017 Ball

You can do better. Photo by kirillt.

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas brought another bumper crop of tech for geeks and gearheads alike.

As usual, this year’s show was more about evolution than revolution. That, and the proliferation of sensors in everything from hairbrushes to toothbrushes. But one technology was clearly the belle of the geek prom: Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Amazon’s Alexa Shines At CES 2017

Time-Warp: The Unfolding Story of 4-D Printing

Image of printing press with legs holding a quill
It’s probably something like this.

4-D printing remains in its early stages, It’s certainly too early to tell if  it’s anything more than a buzzword, let alone if its promise will translate into practicality. But the sorts of people who bet on these kinds of things are betting on it.

And why not? Suppose a structure could unfold itself, like origami. Imagine if walls could flex or stiffen in response to shifting loads, or if a buried pipe could change shape to accommodate varying water flows — or to pump water via peristalsis, like your digestive system. Through 4-D printing, nothing is set in stone unless you want it to be.

How 4-D Printing Works

Eureka! I Have Lost It!

The original keyboard cats.

Left to our own devices and allowed to live without constant fear of death by hunger or violence, we devise some pretty startling stuff.

Sure, some of our better efforts don’t outlast our calamities, or go obsolete before their time or simply never get their chance to shine because no one yet recognizes the need for them. But you can’t keep a good idea down forever, as I explore in this list of …

10 Times Humanity Found the Answer (and Then Forgot)