GeekSpeak for 2009-07-18

Pee, Poop, Robots and Onions

Robots that eat organic material, power from pee and onions, Orwellian Kindles, police typewriters, and more.

World's Most Expensive USB Thumb Drive

Yes, it takes the princely sum of one million yen – about $10,000 – to buy the Mnemosyne USM Memory. Professionally hand-crafted from solid aluminum buffed to a mirror finish, the Mnemosyne owes its striking good looks to Milan-based Italian Design
Studio Toshi Satoji Design.

It holds a very respectable 16GB of data… that is, once you break down the 3" square cube to access the actual USB key ensconced at its center.

Amazon/Kidle, deletes books

This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.

Corpse-Eating Robots

From the file marked “Evidently, many scientists have never seen even one scary sci-fi movie”: The Defense Department is funding research into battlefield robots that power themselves by eating human corpses. What could possibly go wrong?

Since they apparently don’t own TVs or DVD players, researchers at Robotic Technology say the robots will collect organic matter, which “could” include human corpses, to use for fuel. But if you picked up anything on flesh-eating robots over the years you know they’ll ignore that tasty soybean field and make a chow line right to the nearest dead body. And, if the machines can’t find enough dead people to eat, they can always make new ones.

NYPD SPENDS NEARLY $1M ON TYPEWRITERS

The city is plunking down nearly $1 million on typewriters for its keystroke cops.

That’s right — typewriters.

Despite the adoption of high-tech equipment that can read license plates from the air and detect radiological events before they happen, manual and electric typewriters continue to be used throughout the NYPD — and they won’t be phased out anytime soon, officials told The Post.

In fact, just last year, the city signed a $982,269 contract with New Jersey-based Swintec for the purchase of thousands of new manual and electric typewriters over the next three years — some of which retail for as much as $649 apiece.

And last month, the city signed a $99,570 deal with Afax Business Machines in Manhattan for the maintenance of its existing Brother, Panasonic and IBM Selectric typewriters.

Sequencing a Genome a Week

What once took 13 years, now can be done in just one week.

Onions into Power

Who needs solar power when you’ve got onions?

Who doesn’t love an onion power story?

Until today, Gills Onions, a southern Californian farming giant that boasts “the largest fresh onion processing plant in the world,” produced about 300,000 pounds of “onion waste” a day.

But no longer. On Friday the company unveiled a clever scheme to convert onion byproducts into electricity.

Power from Pee

Urea electrolysis: direct hydrogen production from urine

Bryan K. Boggs, Rebecca L. King and Gerardine G. Botte
A new technology has been developed that accomplishes the direct conversion of urine and urea to pure hydrogen via electrochemical oxidation with an inexpensive nickel catalyst.