Many people don't know it, but USPTO can apply a secrecy order to a patent if the patent office staff and their military advisers think the idea could be used to threaten national security. Once the USPTO decides that a technology is no longer a threat, it can publish the patent and pave the way for commercialization. Some patents may remain cloaked under a secrecy order for one or two years; others languish for decades. There are more than 5,000 patent inventions we may never know or see, that currently have secrecy orders attached to them.
That's not the end of hush-hush inventions. Each year, the Pentagon sets aside billions of dollars to develop top-secret military weapons. This black budget has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks, surpassing even the funds spent at the height of the Cold War. Some of that money has gone toward the development of nano air vehicles (NAVs), remote-controlled micro-drones that could easily infiltrate enemy territory. We all know how the U.S. military has used larger drones to conduct reconnaissance, transport supplies and even target individuals. Unfortunately, the larger attack drones, such as the MQ-1 Predator, can result in unwanted civilian casualties.
The Art of War
Lockheed Martin's Samarai micro-drone could solve that problem. Weighing a mere 5.29 ounces and boasting a 12-inch wingspan, the Samarai looks like a maple-seed whirligig. Except this one comes with a miniature jet engine to provide thrust and a tiny flap on the trailing edge of the wing to control direction. In the near future, this nature-inspired micro-drone will snap photos using a camera mounted on the gadget's central hub. But the longer-term goals are to turn the Samarai or other similar micro-drones into armed attack vehicles capable of killing a single individual with little or no collateral damage
A NAV will be a lot smaller than the EMT Aladin airborne reconnaissance drone this German soldier is using for close area imaging during patrol on Oct. 17, 2010, in Afghanistan.
Mercedes-Benz has been an innovator for decades. But nothing could be more innovative than the BIOME concept car, unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2010. Here's how the official press release described the vehicle:
"The Mercedes-Benz BIOME grows in a completely organic environment from seeds sown in a nursery. Out on the road the car emits pure oxygen, and at the end of its lifespan it can be simply composted or used as building material."
It is made from an ultra-light material called BioFibre so that the finished vehicle, though wider than a typical car, only weighs 876 pounds. If you think that sounds too good to be true, then get this: The BIOME isn't assembled. It grows from two seeds -- one that forms the interior and one that forms the exterior. The wheels germinate from four additional seeds placed in the nursery.
Of course, you won't find the BIOME at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. That's because the far-out design is a vision of the future, a concept car that's decades ahead of its time.
two-seater shark uses compressed air mechanism or high powered fans and the Console is placed between the legs, which might seem a little shoddy for some.
But then again, there is a fine distinction between a Hovercar and a Sports car, so it ought to be compact in its design. It will look comfortable on a Sci-Fi set.
Even VW has been working on a hover car in China.
This may not sound so scary, but it is a little unsettling to be walking in a store and hearing voices asking you to buy things. If you look around, you won't see anyone speaking, and none of the other shoppers will seem alarmed -- no one else can hear it but you.
A company called Holosonics developed the Audio Spotlight system, which uses tiny speakers to focus sound into a very narrow beam. Ultrasonic frequencies are too high for the human ear to hear, but as the sound travels from the Audio Spotlight system's speakers, air distorts the sound and makes it audible. It's perfect for in-store advertising, but you'd have to be standing in the right place to hear it.
However, according to the company's Web site, the gadgets are not yet being offered for sale.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way since computers first made the scene.
Vernor Vinge, a math professor at San Diego State University, proposed what he calls the singularity -- a time at which computer networks may become self-aware through advanced AI, and interfaces between people and computers help humankind evolve. Biological advancements may become so sophisticated that doctors can even engineer human intelligence. There is a possibility, however, that AI might allow machines to take over the world. There's no guarantee that such a scenario will really happen, and technological limitations may prevent it. Still, the idea that machines might someday decide we're irrelevant and arrange for our destruction is more than a little creepy. In 2008 scientists completed a gigantic machine that they believe will help solve some of the secrets of the universe. Some critics of the project were so afraid of it that they filed a lawsuit to prevent it from being turned on.
Personal power source
Might I add just one more time, where the heck is the Bloom Box? If there was a time when our country needed a financial break, it would be now. To have a power generator for every home, with energy free of charge, would go a long way.
Who is your favorite singer?
Mint Chip Ice cream, Krispy Kreme donuts, homemade pizza, pralines, Chinese chicken salad...mmmmm!