1. Invisible Car

To promote its new fuel cell vehicle, which has zero exhaust emissions, Mercedes pulled a stunt that showed off an “invisible” car with incredibly low environmental impact.

Although Mercedes says the hydrogen-powered drive system is “ready for series production,” it’s speculated to not be in comercialization until 2014.

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Everyone jokes about the flying cars and robot maids we’ve seen in movies and television, but it turns out the “future” we’ve dreamed of is well on its way.

The majority of these are just concepts, but all are definitely in effect, one way or another. In fact, you can technically purchase a flying car for the low, low price of $200,000. However, it will be a bit longer until we can purchase them as easily as a Honda Civic.

Every day we advance in technology, space exploration, medicine and more. From mind reading to in vitro meat, here are ten crazy peeks at what is coming for the future.

This May we’ll be exploring the future of digital at our signature conference, Mashable Connect. See below for all the details.


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Our annual destination conference, Mashable Connect, brings our community together for three days to connect offline in an intimate setting at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World®. It will take place in Orlando, Florida from Thursday, May 3 – Saturday, May 5. Registration is now open.

Register for Mashable Connect 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, FL on Eventbrite

Held in a unique location away from everyday distractions, Mashable Connect is a rare and valuable opportunity to be surrounded by digital leaders across industries. You’ll spend time with Mashable’s passionate and influential community, hear from top speakers who will provide insight into the the technologies and trends that are shaping the next era of digital innovation, and get to spend time with the Mashable team.

To keep Mashable Connect as intimate as possible, only a limited amount of tickets are available.



A Look Back at Last Year’s Mashable Connect


1. Mashable Connect Race Powered by Gowalla

Team members check in to a race location at Magic Kingdom during the Mashable Connect Race powered by Gowalla.

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Image courtesy of Flickr, romainguy

More About: features, future, Gadgets, Science, Tech

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Ancient dinosaurs are coming to life, using the latest tech: 3D printing. Researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia are creating 3D scans of original fossils and then “printing” scaled down models of the fossils to study the way dinosaurs lived and moved.

“Technology in paleontology hasn’t changed in about 150 years,” said Drexel paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, in a statement. “We use shovels and pickaxes and burlap and plaster. It hasn’t changed — until right now.”

Lacovara is teaming up with the university’s mechanical engineering department to bring this infusion of new tech to palentology.

“It’s kind of like Star Trek technology, where you can press a button and the object pops out,” Lacovara said. In just a few hours, a six-inch model of a bone can be printed and eventually assembled into a replica. The researchers will also create robotic models with artificial muscles and tendons.

SEE ALSO: Woman Gets Jawbone Made by 3D Printer

The 3D-printed replicas will help researchers answer a number of questions: “We don’t know a lot about the way dinosaurs move,” Lacovara said. “How did they stand? How did they ambulate? Did they run or trot? How did they reproduce? It’s all a bit mysterious.”

Check out the video above to learn more about the project.


1. The Cubinator




We met The Cubinator for the first time at the 2010 World Maker Faire. The robot currently holds the Guinness world record for fastest machine solve of a Rubik’s cube. Pete Redmond, who developed the robot for the final project of his master’s degree, says that its solve time averages about 25 seconds. Webcams in the robot’s eyes detect the colors on the cube and the machine solves the puzzle by using an algorithm to find the fewest moves. It also has has a sense of humor, shouting “oh dear!” when it occasionally drops the cube.

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More About: 3D, 3d printing, Dinosaurs, mashable video, Science

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Researchers are trying to create a better battery with MRI scanning — looking at batteries from the inside out for the first time.

Previously the only way scientists looked into a battery is by destroying it. Now researchers at Cambridge University, Stony Brook University and New York University are adopting the MRI technology that doctors use to look inside the body.

MRIs are not typically used where there are large concentrations of metal. People with pacemakers and metal implants are urged to tell their doctors before getting an MRI because metal makes an MRI’s radio frequencies null.

SEE ALSO: 5 iPhone Battery Cases to Keep You Connected Longer

Researchers are using this limitation to their advantage. For lithium-ion batteries, MRIs may be used to see where large bundles of metal deposits are after charging the battery. These will point to problem areas that lead to battery failure, overheating fires and explosions, according to ScienceDaily.

What will come of this research? Better batties for your phones, cameras and laptops.

“New electrode and electrolyte materials are constantly being developed, and this non-invasive MRI technology could provide insights into the microscopic processes inside batteries, which hold the key to eventually making batteries lighter, safer, and more versatile,” said Alexej Jerschow, a professor in NYU’s Department of Chemistry who leads the MRI research laboratory.

Check out the video above to learn more.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, commorancy.

More About: Batteries, doctors, Mobile, mobile phones, Science, Tech

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Stanford University Super Skin

Touch sensitivity on gadgets and robots is nothing new. A few strategically placed sensors under a flexible, synthetic skin and you have pressure sensitivity. Add a capacitive, transparent screen to a device and you have touch sensitivity. However, Stanford University’s new “super skin” is something special: a thin, highly flexible, super-stretchable, nearly transparent skin that can respond to touch and pressure, even when it’s being wrung out like a sponge.

The brainchild of Stanford University Associate Professor of chemical engineering Zhenan Bao, this “super skin” employs a transparent film of spray-on, single-walled carbon nanotubes that sit in a thin film of flexible silicon, which is then sandwiched between more silicon.

After an initial stretch, which actually aligns the randomly sprayed-on conductive, carbon nanotubes into microscopic spring-like forms, the skin can be stretched and restretched again to twice its original size, without the springs or skin losing their resiliency. Darren Lipomi, a postdoctoral researcher who is part of Bao’s research team explained, “None of it causes any permanent deformation.”

SEE ALSO: Humanoid Robot Charges Up, Takes a Load Off [VIDEOS]

This unique makeup allows the malleable skin to measure force response even as it’s being stretched, or “squeezed like a sponge.” Researchers noted that it can also sense touch and force at the same time.

This super skin is not simply a thicker, more flexible version of the touch screen on your iPhone 4S. Virtually all touch-sensitive smartphones feature transparent films that sense touch. However, these capacitive screens are only responding to the tiny electrical charge in your fingertips and do not actually know if you’re touching lightly or hammering the screen.

Flexible touch screens for computers and smartphones is one obvious super skin application idea, but the Stanford researchers have larger goals. They envision future robots wearing this flexible touch and pressure-sensitive skin. From there, the next logical step is replacement of skin on people, especially burn victims or those who have lost limbs.

Learn more in the video and then give us some of your ideas for how industry could use this super skin breakthrough.

More About: artificial limbs, capacitive, ipad, iphone, robots, Science, Stanford University

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Science Beakers Image

A man from Sweden was arrested after it was discovered he was trying to split atoms and build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen, blogging about the experiment the whole time.

Richard Handl kept radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment, but he was arrested only after he had sent a question to Sweden’s Radiation Authority, asking whether what’s he doing is legal.

“I wanted to see if it’s possible to split atoms at home”, Handl said. While it may be possible, it certainly is not legal under Sweden’s law, and Handl may be looking at two years in prison.

Handl kept logs of his experiments on his blog, still available at richardsreactor.blogspot.com. There, he describes his efforts in detail: obtaining hard-to get materials, trying to create nuclear fission, and even having a small “meltdown” in his kitchen after trying to “cook Americium, Radium and Beryllium in 96% sulphuric-acid”.

Like a real scientist, Handl describes details of his arrest calmly and objectively.

“I was ordered by the police to get out of the building with my hands up, then three men came, with geiger-counters and searched me. Then I was placed in a police-car, when Radiation Safety Authory went into my apartment with very advanced measure-tools. So, my project is canceled”, he wrote in the blog.

[via AP]

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Auris

More About: arrest, atom, atoms, nuclear reactor, Science