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Competitions Gadgets Technology

Win a Solar Go Go Car to celebrate The Future Car Challenge

Petrol cars have no future. That is a fact, in 50 years time there will be no crude oil left on planet earth (assuming current consumption rates don’t decrease) therefore there will be no oil left to make petroleum or diesel.

Biofuel, hydrogen, LPG and electric cars are the future, there is no doubt about that. Right now there are many hybrid cars which use petrol with another power source, but in the future, petrol from natural oil will be no more.

There are of course other ways you can power cars, using compressed air is one method as is water-cell technology. These are not however currently concepts in mass production. If you follow those two links, you will find posts written by Jonny on the concepts mentioned.

Arguably the greenest option for the future is electric cars. The electricity used to power the cars can be generate from renewable sources, (it isn’t necessarily, but that is an option) and electricity from renewables is a lot less damaging to the planet than energy generated from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – be it in on the micro scale inside an engine of a car, or on a macro scale in a network of power stations.

Electric cars are starting to look more and more normal, (in the past some have looked somewhat abstract!) and are becoming more efficient every year.

The Future Car Challenge

This year, British Gas (the company who installed Remote Heating Control in my home) became an official partner of The Future Car Challenge. The Future Car Challenge is an annual event, which showcases the latest developments in the electric car industry. This year, members from the British Gas team drove fro Brighton up to London, with the aim of using the least amount of energy as possible, using the latest electric cars. The team included comedian Robert Llewellyn, Ben Collins, (A.K.A. ‘The Stig’), and Commonwealth gold medal swimmer Ross Davenport.

The Future Car Challenge Ross Davenport
Ross Davenport playing his part in the British Gas Future Car Challenge

British Gas are setting up a national charging network, to help increase the viability of electric cars. A charging network is as vital to electric cars as service stations are to petrol and diesel cars. Some electric cars do have the ability to transfer energy generate from breaking into electricity, (as seem in Formula 1 cars) however this alone isn’t enough to power them, so electric recharge points are essential.

Here is a statement from British Gas on their involvement with electric cars:

The Future Car Challenge Robert Llewellyn
Robert Llewellyn taking part in the Brighton to London Future Car Challenge

“British Gas is dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place now and in the future. We are leading the way in providing expertise and charging solutions in the Electric Vehicle market through partnering with Nissan, Renault, Hitachi Capital, Toyota and Vauxhall.

British Gas’ dedicated charging solutions are safer, convenient and more compatible than plugging electric vehicles directly into the mains supply socket at home. Not only do we offer charging solutions that can cut charging times by around a third, but British Gas also offers its customers specially designed tariffs to help them charge for less.”

For more information on The Future Car Challenge, check out this article on British Gas’s blog. The article also has an embedded video of the event.

The Giveaway

To celebrate the event, we have five solar power car sets to giveaway, courtesy of British Gas!

The prize is a John Lewis Solar Go Go Car, (click the link for more info) a cool kit from which you can build your own solar powered car! Okay it isn’t quite as good as an electric car, but it looks great fun, and could make a fantastic Christmas present…

John Lewis Solar Powered Car KitThe giveaway will run for 8 days, from today until the end of next Wednesday (12.00am on Thursday the 13th).

The prizes will be sent out by British Gas to the UK only, so if you don’t live in the UK I am afraid you can’t enter. If you have an address in the UK you can get the prize sent to if you win, you are in!

How To Enter

It is really easy to enter the competition, all you need to do is enter an email address we can contact you on (if you win) in the Rafflecopter widget below. If you like the blog on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or are subscribed to our feed via email, then you can gain some extra entries.

Want a Solar Go Go Car kit? Enter below!

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Winners will be emailed on Thursday the 13th to let them know that they have won, and will be announced on the blog shortly after.

Good luck everyone!

Categories
Science Technology

Nanobots – The future in Nanotechnology

This is Technology Bloggers 150th article 🙂
Well done and thank you to all our brilliant writers (Hayley included), as well as readers and commenters who have helped us get here!

A fraction of the ever-expanding field of nano-technology, nano-robots, a.k.a. nanobots, hold some of the most promising possibilities in the fields of technology, engineering and medicine. They also pose some of the most complex hurdles, such as automation, replication, control and finding viable energy sources to enable movement.

The Nano-Scale

Nanotechnology involves the study and micromanipulation of anatomic particles up to 1 nanometer, with scientists working to develop nanobots in fields less than 100 nanometers in size. Transmission electron (TEM), scanning electron (SEM), scanning tunneling (STM) and Atomic Force (ATM) microscopes are large, powerful machines that make all aspects of nanotechnology, including nano-robotics, possible.

Nano-microscopes allow researchers to isolate and observe single molecules, including chemical reactions that occur upon moving, eliminating and rearranging molecular structures. This base knowledge is essential to understanding, creating and ultimately finding solutions so that nanobot technology will reach its full potential.

Bottoms Up

Up until recent years, the development of nanotechnologies maintained “top-down” construction. The advent of “bottom up” creations on the nano-scale provide scientists the ability to create smaller objects; in addition, components can be “grown” to allow greater adaptation to specific environments or inclusion of specific properties.

Scientists are literally able to “grow” carbon nanotubes and “string” together nanowires, creating desired properties such as hastening conduction or reducing heat output – properties that make for tiny, efficient particles. In theory, by building a nanobot from the bottom up, scientists begin to find solutions that allow for greater control mechanisms and possibly self-replication of the nanobot.

A carbon nanotube
Carbon nanotubes – building nanotechnology from the bottom up.

The greatest benefit of working bottom-up is that, rather than altering materials to work in a desired fashion, scientists build nanostructures and nanobots with proper compounds from the outset.

The Present

Although practical applications in medicine and technology have yet to be fully realized, nanobots are no longer figments of science-fiction imagination.

Lack of autonomy, largely associated with insufficient or unrealistic sources of energy, leaves a large barrier to the potential uses of nanobots. Batteries and solar sources are impractical due to size and, although a scientist can guide the nanobot with the use of magnets, they are not ideal. For example, a physician using a nanobot to treat a patient would need to maneuver the nanobot from outside the skin while also observing inner structures of the body.

Within the past year, scientists announced the creation of a nano “electric motor.” Utilizing principles of adsorption, a molecule attaches itself to the outside of a piece of copper; an STM probe focuses electrons onto the molecule, providing a source of energy and means to control direction. The large, cumbersome STM still makes this impractical in many ways; however, scientists are able to study this single motor and hypothesize ways to alter this and thus to apply it to nanobots.

In addition, micromanipulation made possible by electron microscopes allows for “DNA-walkers.” Essentially reprogramming a portion of a DNA strand, “molecular robots” or “spiders” walk autonomously; ultimately, scientists hope to further develop this technology, creating nanobots that fix genetic diseases.

The Future

Many scientists believe self-replication, most likely by programming the nanobot to micromanipulate surrounding atoms to create duplicates of its self, is essential to the realization of the many medical and technological applications.

In addition, a truly autonomous nanobot would be able to recognize, react and/or adjust to varying environmental conditions, including the presence of other nanobots; scientist could also program them for molecular assembly.

Many believe nanobots will allow for precise diagnostic capability and treatment of diseases such as cancer, as well as genetic disorders. Advances in communications, green energy, computer electronics and semi-conductors appear limitless.

Summary

Although still in its infancy, scientists across many fields hold much promise for nanobot technology. An autonomous nanobot, able to adapt its environment and self-replicate, could be the key to early detection and the cure of many diseases; in addition, nanobots will play an important role in sustainable or renewable energy sources, engineering and advancing computer technology. What do you think?

For further information check out the article on nanobots over at MicroscopeMaster. Links in my bio.

Categories
News Search Engines

Google prunes some of its branches

It is that time again at Google when it has to prune some of its various branches. Since Google co-founder Larry Page took over the reins as CEO in April last year, Google has been reducing and trimming its projects to renew and regain focus.

Google has come under investor scrutiny as it is facing increasing competition from both Apple and Facebook.

This spring cleaning is part of the various cost cutting and refocusing efforts. In the latest cleaning exercise announced a few weeks ago, Google will be pulling the plug on seven of its projects.

1. Google Knol

Google launched Knol in 2007 to help improve web content and as a challenge to Wikipedia that enabled experts to collaborate on in-depth articles. Knol will be available till April 30, 2012, to enable users to download their Knols to a file and/or migrate them to the WordPress platform. After that till October 1, 2012, Knols cannot be viewed but users will be able to download and export content. After October 2012, the Knol content will no longer be available.

2. Google Gears

Google has closed the Gears browser extension for creating offline web applications and stopped supporting new browsers in March this year. From December 1, 2011, Gears-based Gmail and Calendar offline will not work across all browsers, and Gears will not be available for download from late December this year. Google announced that this is part of their effort to help incorporate offline capabilities into HTML5. Users can access Gmail, Calendar and Docs offline in Chrome.

3. Renewable Energy

Google has abandoned its ambitious plans to make renewable energy cheaper than coal. Google had started this project in 2007 as a means on driving down the price of renewable energy with a strong focus on solar power. Google announced that the head of the project, Bill Weihl (William E. Weihl) has left the company and it believes that other organizations were in a better position to take its efforts to the next level.

4. Google Wave

Google has earlier stopped further development on Google Wave. Now it has announced that as of January 31, 2012, Wave will be available as only a read-only version and users won’t be able to create new ones. This will be completed closed on April 30, 2012. Users can transfer individual waves using the existing PDF export feature.

5. Google Search Timeline

Google will be removing this feature that displays a historical graph of results for a search query. Users will now be able to restrict any search to particular time periods using the refinement tools on the left-hand side of the search page. Uses who wish to view graphs with historical trends for a web search can use Google Trends or Google Insights for data since 2004. If you need more historical data, the “Ngram Viewer” in Google Books offers the same information.

The Google Trends Product Logo

6. Google Friend Connect

Google Friend Connect, which is a social feature, will be discontinued from March, this is because Google wants people to start using the Google Plus social network instead.

7. Google Bookmarks

The feature will become unavailable from December 19, 2011. This enabled users to share bookmarks and collaborate with friends. The existing bookmark Lists will be retained and labelled to make it easier to identify. The other features of the Google Bookmarks will keep on functioning. The change won’t affect the non-English users as it was an English only feature.

This spring cleaning is only a sign that Google knows that it currently faces big competition, so it needs to make sure that it discontinues disused/inefficient services it provides.