This is the battery-powered VC200 “volocopter,” a state-of-the-art helicopter prototype by engineers at German start-up e-volo. From Smithsonian Mag:
In the coming year, engineers will continue working on the prototype, which the company boasts will be lighter, safer, quieter and greener than any other helicopter in the world.
That’s because a traditional helicopter uses one rotor to provide lift and a tail rotor to prevent the aircraft from spinning in circles. It maneuvers by changing the pitch of the two rotors. The volocopter has 18 small rotors mounted in a configuration that provides lift without causing the vehicle to spin. It navigates by changing the speed of individual rotors.
e-volo also invented this previously-featured, e-powered multicopter. Related watching: more helicopters, including human-powered ones.
Seen at science museums, maker faires, and all over the internet, Singing Tesla Coils combine science and music in the most fantastical and memorable of ways. But how do they work? From Physics Buzz:
Sound waves are vibrations of the air around us, which you can make just by clapping your hands or talking. Pitch is just the number of times the air vibrates per second. Higher frequency, higher pitch. Tesla coils are a combination of circuits that output thousands to millions of volts. That high electric field arcs up and out of the coil, filling the air with sparks and making it possible to light up fluorescent lights wirelessly. Certain types of Tesla coils, like the one used here, are putting out hundreds of sparks per second, with a rest between each spark. That’s already a lot like a sound wave. Each spark is pushing on the air and can create a sound. Change the frequency of the sparks and you get an equal frequency wave, hitting your ears like a note of music. The creators had to find a way to move seamlessly between frequencies to make the notes sound distinct, instead of just playing the whole scale.
Above, tesla coils “sing” the Inspector Gadget theme by ArcAttack, who were the first to use this technology in a live performance in late 2005. Watch more singing tesla coil videos at Know Your Meme. Related links: the tesla coil and Nikola Tesla, who invented it around 1891.
In the archives: more electricity, more instruments, and things that glow.
What if we could replace plastics and styrofoam with something much more sustainable? Something that wouldn’t fill our landfills, pollute our beaches, or float out into our ocean gyres?
Meet Eben Bayer, the co-founder of Ecovative Designs. In 2007, Bayer and co-founder Gavin McIntyre developed the idea of combining mycelium from growing mushrooms with local crop waste to make a compostable biomaterial. Their goal: use it for packaging, insulation, shoes, fiberboard for furniture, and other products, thereby reducing or replacing non-biodegradable synthetic materials and plastics that can leach chemicals.
Are mushrooms the new plastic?
To find out, watch this 2010 report that explores how mushroom packaging is made. For more information on what Ecovative is working on, read this article in The Guardian, watch Bayer present at TED, or watch Ecovative’s Sam Harrington present to NASA.
Then watch more videos on innovative ideas and sustainability (like the Moser Lamp!), learn how creativity works, and check out Minute Earth’s The Biggest Organism on Earth.