From ExtremeTech.com news there are several interesting items with write ups this week.
NASA has apparently placed a solar sail device in orbit (see here and here). As most of you know, a solar sail is a thin sail which catches solar particles the way a conventional sail collects wind. Extreme Tech says this may be our best bet for interstellar space travel. Personally, I’m hoping for a warp drive. Aaaannnnnnd. Nanosail-D is apparently a pretty smart device as it has its own active Twittter channel, at http://twitter.com/#!/nanosaild. Huh. A shiny metal sail that tweets.
Innovation company, 3M, which pays their employees to spend 1/5th of their time inventing new things (useful or not) has found another apparent success. See here and here. Yes, from the company which turned a failed attempt at a super adhesive into explosively popular Post-It notes, another market changing innovation has come: by using silver instead of idium / tin oxide, 3M has developed a way to mostly eliminate the bezel framing flat screens. The 3M silver technology is 10 times faster than ITO and the required support circuitry requires an order of magnitude less space. Soon, you will be able to touch your touch screen all the way to the edge, quickly.
Extreme Tech reports that German design firm Orkin has developed a flexible laptop computer that can be rolled up – at least at pre-defined points. See here. Soooooo, I guess you roll it up and put it in your back pocket until you need it. That might be an iPad killer with the right apps. There are a bunch of videos in the Extreme Tech article.
Finally, a team at The University of Zurich’s Institute of Neuroinformatics has developed a robot that can balance a pencil on its point. Right, not it side, its sharp point. This is considered an advance in robo-technology because machines that interact with humans must be able to process and react quickly. The ability to make a machine that can use two visual sensors to “see” where the pencil is and adjust a table under the pencil quickly enough to keep it standing on its point, is a breakthrough.