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The Bitcoin Blockchain Explained

Forget the currency; it’s the protocol behind it that matters. Blockchains will mutate and take over everything we do on the Web.   Trusting strangers with your digital information may sound silly, but it’s actually a revolution in distributed computing. And one day, systems like Bitcoin could be the future of all secure digital transactions.  

A Cyborg Stingray Made of Rat Muscles and Gold

A team of researchers have found a way to meld bioinspiration with robotics and cybernetics with the creation of a fully controllable robotic ray that uses light-activated rat muscle cells to swim. The research has just been published in Science, and it’s impressive. And also adorable.  

Tackle This: Football’s Newest MVP is a Robot

A robotic tackling dummy created by Dartmouth College engineering students could turn out to be the most valuable player on the field this football season. Short for Mobile Virtual Player, the MVP robot is designed to take a beating during football drills, sparing players from an accumulation of the kinds of impacts known to result in concussions and long-term brain damage.  

This Water Jet Cutter Can Slice Through Anything: Steel, Glass or Steak

The phrase “desktop fabrication” has for the most part meant 3D printers and laser cutters. There are also small computer-numerical-control (CNC) mills and routers to be had, but until now you’d be hard pressed to find a small computerized machine hefty enough and flexible enough to cut complicated patterns in, say, steel. And you’d be totally out of luck if your material of choice was glass or ceramic.  

Build an Air Theremin (For Dance Parties!)

IEEE Spectrum’s own Stephen Cass has been on a several-month-long quest to make groovy electronic music—in spite of a complete and utter lack of any musical talent whatsoever. So when he stumbled across the TeraRanger One range finding sensor, the wheels in his head started spinning.   The sensor uses reflected infrared pulses to determine distances of up to several meters. Cass quickly realized that with the help of an Arduino Mega, he could translate different distances into musical notes on his 1980s vintage Casio SK-5 keyboard, creating an instrument you can play with your whole body. The result is…

High-Speed Classroom: Building an Electric Racing Motorcycle

Ohio State University’s Buckeye Current Electric Motorcycle Team is no ordinary after school club. Unless, of course, your version of ordinary includes breaking land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats and taking home racing trophies from the Isle of Man. In about six years, this all-student team has gone from cobbling motorcycles together from whatever they had on hand to competing against professional motorcycle racing teams on some of the world’s toughest courses. The challenge of building an entirely new electric motorcycle from scratch has turned out to be a fantastic testing ground for these soon-to-be minted electrical engineers….

Tour the World’s Coolest Floating DIY Lab

Steve Roberts turned his yacht into an ever-evolving electronics laboratory.   Datawake was 10 years in the making. She’s outfitted with endless gadgets: including a ham radio, a milling machine, a 3D printer, Raspberry Pi and Arduino based systems for data collection, and endless tools for tinkering. She even has a kitty litter box equipped with a carbon filter air cleaner and a security camera for wireless monitoring.  

AxonVR Brings Touch to Virtual Reality

AxonVR’s HaptX system is an enormous metal box with some buttons and blinking lights. It’s very much a prototype. You put on a HTC Vive headset, stick your left hand into the box, and then experience the magic of a tiny virtual deer taking a warm and fluffy nap on your outstretched palm.  

Everything You Need to Know About 5G

Millimeter waves, massive MIMO, full duplex, beamforming, and small cells are just a few of the technologies that could enable ultrafast 5G networks.   Today’s mobile users want faster data speeds and more reliable service. The next generation of wireless networks—5G—promises to deliver that, and much more. With 5G, users should be able to download a high-definition film in under a second (a task that could take 10 minutes on 4G LTE). And wireless engineers say these networks will boost the development of other new technologies, too, such as autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things.   If…

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