My final story for Wired.com appeared August 31. It’s a look at some of the work that the scientists and engineers in Microsoft’s research division are doing to create the computer interface — and communications screens — of the future.
REDMOND, Washington — Deep inside Microsoft is the brain of a mad scientist.… Read the rest
If you’re old enough to remember the energy policies of the Carter administration, green enough to have donated to the Nature Conservancy and young enough to get a rush of testosterone from dusting that polo-shirt-wearing jerk in his BMW, Nissan has the car for you.… Read the rest
High on a rocky ridge in the desert, nestled among the brush, is the topmost part of a clock that has been ticking for thousands of years.
It looks out over the ruins of a spaceport, built by a rich man whose name was forgotten long ago.… Read the rest
1945: Arthur C. Clarke begins privately circulating copies of a paper that proposes using space satellites for global communications.
It was a bold suggestion for 1945, as the war was just winding down and most people were undoubtedly more concerned about the necessities of life than they were with beaming radio waves down from space.… Read the rest
Decades after its birth, the laser is still irresistibly cool.
How many other fifty-somethings can you say that about?
Even though lasers are as common as dirt now, appearing in everything from DVD players to supermarket scanners to computer mice, there’s still a certain appeal to a beam of coherent, monochromatic light.… Read the rest
SEATTLE — Rusty Oliver sets things on fire.
During our visit to his workspace, the aptly-named Hazardfactory, he demonstrated how two long propane-filled tubes can act as a kind of fiery audio EQ meter. He created a fierce ball of flame in the middle of a hoop-shaped sculpture he calls “The Singularity.” He showed off flame-throwing rayguns (sadly not currently in operation) and talked about how he was organizing a league to play one of his favorite sports, flaming tetherball.… Read the rest
SAN FRANCISCO — Trust us. We’re not going to screw up Skype.
That was the message Microsoft delivered Tuesday, hours after formally announcing that it was buying the internet telephony pioneer for a staggering $8.5 billion — staggering because it’s more than the Redmond giant has ever paid for anything, and because Skype doesn’t exactly print money.… Read the rest
SEATTLE — It’s hard to explain Archie McPhee.
Instead, let’s start with some of the things you can buy here:
Cthulhu water bottles. Bacon-flavored toothpaste. Devil duckies. Fire-spitting wind-up nuns. Band-Aids that look like bacon strips. Bacon-flavored gumballs. A plastic narwhal — complete with a penguin for it to impale.… Read the rest
Like multicore computer chips, Android smartphones, and Starbucks coffee, LCD TVs are getting cheaper—and bigger—all the time. Inevitably, your brother-in-law’s new 55-inch TV cost less than the 48-inch model you bought two years ago. Why? Science! See, flat-panel displays are made by machines that print arrays of circuits on sheets of glass and then slice those sheets into screens like high tech brownies.… Read the rest
My phone is about as integrated into my life as my left temporal lobe. I’m not going running without it.
That’s why the H2O Audio Amphibx Fit Armband ($60) is a boon for technophile exercise-junkies like me. Sure, it’s ugly, and its large size dwarfs my skinny arms.… Read the rest