In 2007, a student at the University of Tokyo brought a lump of a grey, sparkly mineral to his professor Tsutomu Miyasaka, with the hope that this material might have potential to make cheap and efficient solar cells. But it only converted 4 percent of the sun energy to electricity. Not that remarkable.
Now, however, things have changed. Seven years later the unremarkable lump of rock called perovskite is beating out most solar cells on the market, getting 20 percent efficiency. The progress has sped up because researchers around the world saw the potential in this mineral.
While the sun is pretty much a limitless source of energy for all of us, the cost to capture it remains the challenge. The typical residential solar roof might get about 15 percent efficiency in sunlight and provides electricity at 50 cents/watt. This is twice the cost of coal.
So it's got to get cheaper in order to pull ahead as our number one energy source. Right now the top-performing cells, made of gallium arsenide get a maximum efficiency of about 30 percent but are prohibitively expensive.
The cheaper options like copper indium gallium selenide (a flexible material) or cadmium telluride (as cheap as silicon) get only about 20 percent efficiency.
Posted by erika rae
| 23 Jul 2014
You've gotta love a house that comes with instructions. The newest project from Iranian design group nextoffice scales up the the space-saving technique behind the Murphy bed and enhances it with a bit of Hogwarts-like whimsy. Their work on the three-floor Sharifi-Ha house in Tehran incorporates a series of semi-mobile rooms, which can be oriented to allow for extra space and sunlight.
As any city dweller knows, you don't have a lot of square footage to work with in urban hotspots. This design addresses this issue a stack of three rectangular rooms that can either be aligned flush against the façade of the home or rotated perpendicular to the outer wall—creating weather-friendly options for both a winter and summer living space.
Every once in a while, a star shows up on Jimmy Kimmel Live and you find that their mother is sitting in the audience. On the show last night something similar happened, albeit with an unusual guest—a bipedal 14-foot monster named "Bodock." Watching proudly from the crowd was Stratasys manager Leslie Frost, tweeting pics and updates.
That's because key parts of the creature, like the chest armor, shoulders, arms and fingers, were enormous ABS parts that came out of a Stratasys 3D printer. "Everything about the giant creature project was ambitious, including size, weight, delivery schedule and performance requirements," says designer Matt Winston. Without large-scale 3D printing and specifically, access to a Fortus 900mc, which has an insane build envelope of 36”×24”×36”, "none of it would have been possible."
Designed by FX house the Stan Winston School and engineered by technical firm Legacy Effects, "Bodock" was created for San Diego Comic-Con, which opens tomorrow. (Kimmel watchers were given a sneak peek a two days early, as the host gleefully revealed to a crowd of unsuspecting kids that Bodock contains the internal plumbing to spray liquid sneezes.) Leading up to the launch, Wired's been tagging along and shooting the development process:
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 23 Jul 2014
Regardless of whether you're in the Invasion of Mypace camp, or the Well That's How Business Works camp, Facebook has been playing games with your heart. As we all now ought to know, Facebook has admitted to experimentally filtering feed results to test emotional response and behavior in users. While it's hard to consider experimentation without informed consent to be anything less than blatantly shady, it's also well within their legal rights. Ethical it ain't, but then again deskchair epidemiology has never had the luxury of such self-selecting scale.
But the biggest bummer—other than seeing an upswing in pictures of your exes and their stupid beautiful lives—is that we didn't get to see the results! Not so any longer. Artist Lauren McCarthy created the Mood Manipulator, a browser extension that allows you the gratification of choosing your own digitally devised mood swings.
Now you can choose your own emotional filtering rather than passively interacting with a pre-adjusted feed filtered by unseen researchers without enough scruple to feel weird studying emotional effects in people who have not been notified. These tasteful opt-in controls give you four tonal "channels" with three positions each: Positive, Emotional, Aggressive and Open (in other news four-metric psych news, the Myers-Briggs test is totally meaningless). Just download the extension and toggle your way to psycho-social harmony.
Always with the babies
I hate to write this, but "You'll never believe what happens next!"
Speaking of anamorphosis, check out French artist Bernard Pras' nutty room-sized sculpture below. Pras practices the cylinder-free variant of anamorphosis, and the results have to be seen to be believed:
Posted by Coroflot
| 23 Jul 2014
If you haven't heard of Native Shoes yet, these kicks are made from foam-injection molded-EVA, and combine the best of evolving technology and great design. Along with a unique, low-emission manufacturing process, Native shoes are animal bi-product free, waterproof and odor-resistant. How would you like to join their team as Junior Level Footwear Designer in Vancouver, Canada?
The right person for this role will be responsible for executing the development of all seasonal products, while working closely with the Product Line Manager and Creative Director to ensure that Native product design is innovative and brand appropriate. Core functions include footwear design and development, sourcing, tech pack creation, adhering to key calendar dates, and driving communication from design to commercialization. If this sounds like your ideal job, Apply Now.
Charles Edward Stuart, colloquially referred to as Bonnie Prince Charlie, fomented the Jacobite uprising of 1745 in an effort to seize the British throne. Charlie's Scottish troops were defeated in battle a year later and he fled to France. In the brutal English crackdown that ensued, Scottish households found to contain a portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie were in for trouble, so former supporters interested in surviving got rid of them.
But not all of them. One artist used a clever technique to secretly hide a portrait of BPC in plain sight. A seemingly abstract circular pattern was painted on a tray...
Image by Kate Furr-Danner]
...and once a mirrored cylinder was placed in the center, boom, you had Bonnie Prince Charlie staring back at you.
Posted by erika rae
| 22 Jul 2014
The fact that Soug Wen uses that adorable little shrugging smiley in her tagline for Gothscreenshots might be my favorite thing of the month—the actual apparel collection coming in as a close second. What's so special about this series of graphic tees and accessories? Well, their patterns are based solely on those hated icons we unfortunately see way too often on our computers. In fact, I think I've seen at least three of them in the time it's taken me to write this post.
For those of you who don't scour the Internet for tech-y humor blogs on a daily basis (guilty), Gothscreenshots was originally a Tumblog focused on capturing the frustrating—and notably depressing—nature of our digital error screens. They've just recently expanded into the world of punny fashion with their line of totes, tees, swimsuits and shift dresses. Insofar as graphic garb comes and goes, GSS captures the way we live now by immortalizing (or at least sartorializing) the blood-pressure-raising iconography of our times. No longer bound to a screen, Gothscreenshots' apparel conjures these digital touchstones when you're flipping through your closet, doing your laundry, or doffing your jacket at the bar.
One of the first things you learn in the ID shop at design school: Wood glue is for joining wood, welding is great for joining metal, acetone is the thing for fusing plastics together. But when you need to attach one of these materials to another, you've got to switch over to hard fasteners or something more clever, since wood glue won't stick to plastics, et cetera.
While that's occasionally a hassle for building multimaterial objects, record lovers have figured out that wood glue not sticking to plastic provides a huge benefit: You can use wood glue to clean LPs. Because Titebond won't stick to vinyl, but will stick to all the microscopic specks of dust hanging out in the grooves, a layer of wood glue will become like a Biore strip for records. Observe, and be sure to listen to the before and after—the amount of snaps, crackles and pops the glue removes from the audio is astonishing:
I love seeing this kind of nuts-and-bolts industrial design. Seattle-based designer Eric Brunt observed that what makes snowshoes work is their increased surface area, which enables the wearer to "float" atop the surface. But that increased surface area also means that the wearer has to walk like s/he's in a Monty Python sketch.
What if, Brunt reasoned, the footprint could shrink when lifted, enabling a more natural gait, then grow again when placed back onto the surface?
Brunt mocked up a bunch of "kinematic folding mechanisms" in cardboard to see what was possible: