Posted: 15 Nov 2009 09:00 PM PST
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Not all plastics are created equal — and to prove it, a rakish banking heir and a team of young adventurers have built a huge ship out of plastic.
Called Plastiki, the 60-foot catamaran's hull is made of a newly developed plastic that's easier to recycle than the standard man-made stuff. The boat, as well as the voyage it will eventually undertake across the Pacific, is the conceptual child of David de Rothschild, who toes the line between eco-playboy and serious environmentalist.
During a recent Wired.com trip to Pier 31 in San Francisco, where the boat was getting its finishing touches, de Rothschild waxed rhapsodically about the value of the plastic, srPET, which stands for self-reinforced polyethylene terephthalate.
"Dumb Plastic 1.0," de Rothschild said should be reduced, regulated against and minimized, if not abolished. srPET, though, deserves your love and attention.
"This is PET supporting PET, so when it comes to the end of its lifecycle, it can go into a machine and can be respun and rewoven," he said.
De Rothschild would like to see it replace fiberglass, which can't be recycled. To prove its seaworthiness, de Rothschild's Adventure Ecology will be broadcasting live via satellite phones to raise awareness about the problems of plastic in the Pacific.
"We're not going out there saying we're a scientific vessel," he said. "This is an adventure that's using innovative materials to catalyze support for an issue."
And when it's over, the boat's cabin will be recycled in Sydney.
Whether the whole trip is an eco-stunt or something more important, the ship itself is marvelous to behold. Hulking inside the pier, it looks like a massive boat built from packing tape with two-liter plastic bottles stuck onto its sides.
Photo: McNair Evans
Posted: 15 Nov 2009 04:53 PM PST
With each passing year, the boundary between man and machine gets slimmer. Bionic ears have become commonplace, motorized prosthetics allow wounded soldiers to care for themselves, and electronic eyes are just over the horizon. Neuroscientists have almost jacked rodents into the matrix: They have used electrodes to read signals from individual mouse brain cells as the critters wandered through a virtual maze. Monkeys can feed themselves with robot arms wired directly into their brains. Here are ten clips of inventions that unite nerves with electronic circuits.
10. Monkey Feeding Itself with a Robot Arm
9. Guys Playing Pong with Brain Waves
8. Cockroach Pilots a Robot
7. Blob of Goo by iRobot
6. Mouse Wanders through a Video Game Maze While Scientists Read its Nerve Signals
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