• Modern-Day Noah Makes Tsunami-Proof Boat

    From his backyard in Palo Alto, Calif., Chris Robinson is building a tsunami-proof capsule out of epoxy and plywood that he hopes will be strong enough to survive a tsunami and save the lives of those inside it.

    He’s a user experience designer by trade and looks at everything as a challenge. “What could you do that you could just climb into in your backyard,” Chris asked himself, “instead of climbing in your car and being chased by a wave?”

    The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukushima, Japan, had a profound impact on him. Chris lived in Japan after college and taught English in Fukushima for a year. He met his wife there; many of the places that were destroyed by the tsunami were places he and his wife frequented when they were dating.

    “The idea that tsunamis happen and have that destructive force and there really wasn’t, at that time, any kind of viable plan to survive it other than just get to high ground,” bothered Chris and was the challenge that lead him to build the

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  • Boats Make Better Tasting Whiskey, Or Do They?

    If you’re in the alcohol business, you should be in the bourbon business.

    After flat-lining in previous decades relative to vodka and other spirits, sales of bourbon, a whiskey distilled from corn and aged in charred-oak barrels, are soaring. Distillers are exporting $1 billion worth of American whiskey abroad, triple the amount exported in 2002, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. And domestic sales of bourbon are up 40 percent since 2008 -- a sudden growth spurt that has distillers racing to meet demand and others trying to differentiate themselves.

    Among the latter is Trey Zoeller, the Louisville, Kentucky-based founder of Jefferson’s Bourbon, who made waves by placing a batch of barreled bourbon on top of waves -- or rather, aboard a large ocean trawler that roamed the seas for three years.

    Bourbon, says Zoeller, derives 70 to 80 percent of its taste from the maturation period inside a charred-oak barrel over several Kentucky summers and winters. Time

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  • Imagine if clinics in developing countries were equipped with an inexpensive yet durable tool that could help medical personnel identify and diagnose a variety of deadly diseases like Malaria, Chagas disease, or Leishmaniosis? For millions of people around the world waiting to be diagnosed and treated, such a tool could be a life-saver.

    Manu Prakash, a professor at Stanford University and his students have developed a microscope out of a flat sheet of paper, a watch battery, LED, and optical units that when folded together, much like origami, creates a functional instrument with the resolution of 800 nanometers – basically magnifying an object up to 2,000 times.

    Called Foldscope, the microscope is extremely inexpensive to manufacture, costing between fifty-cents and a dollar per instrument. And because the microscope is assembled primarily from paper and optical components the size of a grain of sand, it is virtually indestructible.

    Foldscope also differs from the microscopes typically

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