Scientists theorize that miniaturized versions of Stirling engines (Victorian-era piston motors) could be used to cool down micro-electronics like infrared cameras or security scanners. The sugar-cube-sized devices would work by utilizing a gas-filled pump which enables waves of heat to be lifted from one end of a cylinder to the opposite side and dissipated via a copper heat sink. Unfortunately, researchers say these won't help with your lap-burning CPUs, so... sorry overclockers.
[Via New Scientist
- High frequency pressure oscillator for microcryocoolers
Those coolers, however, may be put into action in outer space, perhaps on Lockeed Martin
's newest babies: two unmanned commercial rockets which it hopes to put into use for cheap and easy satellite deployment. Of course, rockets tested recently at Spaceport America were only one-fifth the size of the actual crafts, and were used to demo design and handling inside our atmosphere. The hope is that the company would be able to easily transport materials to and from the weightless abyss above without lengthy launching procedures or hefty bribes to government officials.
- Spaceport launch tests future spacecraft
Likely the astronauts piloting the full-size versions of those ships will want to carry another new device on board, namely, a "Babelfish" communicator which would be able to translate alien languages into understandable speech. University of California researcher Terrence Deacon believes that language is just an attempt to describe our physical world, which limits the possibilities and paves the way for this future gadget. Sure, that all sounds like fun and games, but we doubt it will accurately translate the meaning of an Alien shooting that second, totally gross set of chompers out of its mouth.Read
- 'Babelfish' to translate alien tongues could be built