How the Navy's super railgun works (animation)

If you want to know how the U.S. Navy's futuristic electromagnetic railgun works, you could hop on over to the information page on the Office of Naval Research's Web site. Or you could watch a monotone Taiwanese animation.

If you're not familiar with the railgun, it's a favorite Navy project that is intended to be able to launch a 5-inch projectile more than 100 miles without the use of traditional explosives. Using a complex system that forces the projectile out of a ship-bound gun at more than 4,500 miles, the Navy hopes to be … Read more

Boy and Girl Scouts? Meet the hacker scouts

If you were ever a Boy Scout, you may recall earning an archery or camping badge. Girl Scouts offer athlete, naturalist, and many others. But what if you're a kid with serious 3D printing or laser cutting chops? Is there a badge for you?

There is now, thanks to the folks at Adafruit Industries, a New York-based open source hardware and maker products emporium. Starting in the next few days--timed to the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts on March 12--Adafruit will begin offering a broad set of skill badges that reward kids--and presumably others--for completing any of a … Read more

Crafty designer makes art out of chain-link fencing

Ask people to think of a chain-link fence, and the pleasure center in their brain isn't exactly going to light up.

Unless, of course, they're thinking of Dutch designer Joep Verhoeven's creations.

Verhoeven's company, Lace Fence, takes the stuff of penitentiaries, abandoned lots, and grim school yards and turns it into something that could almost sneak its way into a painting by Rembrandt or Vermeer.

"I was on my bicycle passing a fence," Verhoeven told Crave in an e-mail, "and someone had fixed an opening in the fence with some wire. That was my 'Eureka' moment: why not guide the wire by hand into shapes or patterns and integrate it into the industrial fence?"… Read more

The 3D art behind America's great engineering projects

If you're a fan of America's long and storied history of great engineering, the National Park Service has got something for you.

On Monday, the park service's Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Autodesk and kubit will announce the technological process of documenting these structures, a process that resulted in a broad collection of 3D imagery of projects like the Space Shuttle Discovery, as well as NASA launching pads, famous bridges, and more. The imagery was used to generate what are known as "point clouds" of data that, together, show a 3D version of the object. … Read more

Police-sketch software puts faces on fiction characters

What if your favorite sci-fi or fantasy character broke loose from the book you were reading and went on a rampage?

Your first step (after scrambling under the bed) might be to call the police. And they, of course, would want the suspect's description--to hand off to their sketch artist.

That's where Brian Joseph Davis comes in.

In a mashup of high and low culture, the writer and artist has been creating police composites based on descriptions of characters in novels: Dr. Robert Vaughn from J.G. Ballard's "Crash," Gary from Colson Whitehead's "Zone One," Aomame from Haruki Murakami's "1Q84," even Humbert Humbert from Nabokov's "Lolita" and Edward Rochester from Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre."

The unconventional portraits form the basis of Davis' Tumblr blog/crowd-sourced art project "The Composites." … Read more

The sweet, sweet music of the wood-playing turntable

You have to admit there's at least a little resemblance between the ring-lined cross-section of a tree and an LP. So why shouldn't a tree's rings elicit beautiful music the way a record's can?

That might well have been the inspiration for Bartholomaus Traubeck's Years project, a record player that can read the rings of a tree and translate them into lovely piano melodies.

According to the Years Web site, "A tree's year rings are analyzed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process … Read more

MythBusters to launch explosive new series, 'Unchained Reaction'

The MythBusters are at it again.

In a tweet this morning, Adam Savage, co-host of the hit Discovery Channel show, said that he and his co-conspirator, Jamie Hyneman, have gotten the green light to produce their new "sooper secret project," "Unchained Reaction."

According to Deadline Hollywood, Savage and Hyneman will executive produce the new Discovery Channel show and serve as judges on what will be a six-part series. The show will pit "two teams of varying backgrounds--artists, rocket scientists, animatronic specialists, engineers, and even your average Joes--against each other to build an elaborate chain reaction … Read more

Soon, we'll be wearing movies

Imagine: You're walking down the street at night. You turn a corner, and suddenly, coming your way, you see someone with "Avatar" playing on their jacket.

It's a futuristic notion, but according to the folks at open-source hardware maker Adafruit Industries, it's one that's just months away.

That's because Adafruit has just unveiled Flora, its brand-new Arduino and Arduino-compatible wearable electronics platform. Designed to give anyone the ability to craft a matrix of up to hundreds or someday, more than 1,000 small LED "pixels," Flora is meant to make it possible to easily craft custom wearable multi-LED pixel designs perfect for art events like Burning Man, or even the streets of whatever town you live in. … Read more

'Don't try this at home:' MythBusters take their act on tour

CUPERTINO, Calif.--As Adam Savage walked onto the stage alongside a battered old water heater, the crowd of several thousand people erupted in a loud ovation. They weren't cheering for the famous co-host of "MythBusters."

"Only at a MythBusters show will a busted water heater get a round of applause," Savage said, grinning.

If you're reading this, there's a good chance you know why the audience was revved up by the appearance of something as prosaic as a water heater. But for the uninitiated, during a 2007 episode of Discovery Channel's hit … Read more

YouTube's $500,000 hunt for world's best storyteller

If you're a storyteller, wouldn't you want the chance to have "Gladiator" and "Blade Runner" auteur Ridley Scott help you with a project? And wouldn't it be great to have half a million dollars to spend on it?

That could be your future if you're the winner of YouTube's Your Film Festival, a competition to unearth the world's best storyteller that Google's video sharing site announced today.

Beginning February 2, YouTube will open up the film festival to anyone in the world who's 18 or older and has … Read more