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Tasty Tech Eye Candy Of The Week
By Tracy Staedter,
Discovery News, 1 February 2015.

This week, we peel back time to look at the ice ages in Greenland and a blizzard in the United States, and then we jump forward to a future where robots tend vineyards and kids sled on sand dunes.

1. Greenland Ice Sheet

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Trapped in polar ice are tiny air bubbles that contain hundreds of thousands of years of clues about the Earth's atmosphere. To get at those clues, scientists typically remove cylinders of ice from the frozen layers.

But now NASA has used ice-penetrating radar to create a three-dimensional view of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Planes with the equipment were flown back and forth over the area, bouncing radar signals onto the ice sheet. On-board the plane, an instrument recorded the strength and return time of the reflected signals. From there, a map was created that allows scientists to peel pack time. See a video here of this remarkable endeavour. [More images and videos at NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio]

2. Alpine Vision Gran Turismo

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This concept car from Renault is Speed-Racer cool. It has 4.5L V8, engine and a hypothetical top speed of 199 mph. It was designed for the racing game Gran Turismo, so it won't see a real chequered flag anytime soon. But Renault did produce a full-size scale model of the car to show off at auto shows. Okay, we'll take it.

3. Electric Surfboard

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Question: How do you surf when there aren't any waves? Answer: Lampuga, the world’s fastest electric surfboard. A 52-volt, lithium-ion battery takes this carbon-fibre beauty up to 32 mph for 20 to 35 minutes. Looks like fun.

4. Virtual Reality on Qantas Airlines

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Australian airline Qantas announced this week that they'll be offering virtual reality experiences for first class passengers flying between Australia and the United States. So far, the experiences seem to be promotional videos centred around Qantas and its destinations. But the company hopes to offer blockbuster films, as well, just as soon as someone makes them available on the Samsung Gear. Ah heck, we can't afford first class anyway.

5. Robot Tends Vineyard

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This robot won't harvest the grapes, but it will look after the vineyard. VineRobot was developed by a large European consortium, pulling in scientists from all of our favourite wine countries: Spain, France, Italy and Germany. Come on, you like Riesling. The bot is equipped with sensors and software that help monitor growth, water status, fruit abundance and grape composition. Cheers.

6. Sand Sled

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When you think of sledding, you generally picture snow-glistening hillsides and children bundled up in parkas. But the German company KHW has created a sled for use on sand dunes. Made from bioplastic, the aptly named Desert Sled has runners designed to glide over the otherwise abrasive quartz crystals. It was recently tested in Namibia at the world's first sand skiing school. It also works on snow. So what does this mean for people who don't live in a desert? Year-round fun!

7. Fuel Cell Charger

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Most portable chargers will keep your phone or laptop in the green for a few additional hours, just until you can get to an electrical outlet. But the Kraftwerk fuel cell charger keeps your tablets, phones and cameras powered up for weeks. Weeks! It runs on butune, which is a standard camping fuel and the fuel cell is infinitely refillable. At the moment, the charger is a Kickstarter project, but it's already fully funded with about a month to go. You still have time to get one.

8. Snowmageddon Twitter Map

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After last week's blizzard, Twitter's Data Editor Simon Rogers put together a time lapse map showing how tweets about the storm spread across the United States and then overseas. The map was made using geotagged tweets of #Juno, #Snowmageddon2015, #Juno2015, #Blizzardof2015, and #blizzard. Click the link to see the tweets explode.

9. Backboard

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Sure, you have that treadmill desk, but you could still use some back support when you sit. The Backboard project from Kickstarter promises to keep you from slumping. It's adjustable to any lumbar curve and lightweight enough to bring on a business trip. Great idea.

10. Blind Mom Sees Her Baby

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New mom Kathy Bleitz has a degenerative disease of the retina called Stargardt disease. She can only make out wavy shapes in full light and mostly everything is very fuzzy. Recently she gave birth and, thanks to technology, was able to see her baby as sharply as ever.

It was all thanks to an eSight headset, which has a high-definition camera, an organic light-emitting diode screen and proprietary software that captures images in real time and then projects them onto the screen.

Watch the video here. Approximately 95 percent of legally blind people still have some eyesight and as a result are candidates for eSight.

Top image: Alpine Vision Gran Turismo. Credit: Alpine/Facebook.

[Source: Discovery News. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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