Smallest electric motor now just a nanometer wide

Way back in the early days of 2011, the world's smallest electric motor was so...big. At 200 nanometers wide, it was a whopping 1/300th the size of a human hair.

Now, chemists at Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences have smashed that record, which was set in 2005, with this weekend's unveiling of their single-molecule electric motor, which at 1 nanometer wide could be the first in an entirely new class of devices with potential use in medicine and engineering.

That's right: 1 nanometer. That's been estimated to be about 1/60,… Read more

15 must-have iPad cases

The biggest change to our on-the-go computing habits in 2010 has been the introduction of Apple's iPad tablet. While ultraportable and Netbook laptops are still very important, there's a pretty good chance that meetings, day trips, and coffee shop work sessions are now conducted with the help of an iPad instead.

Picking the right case for your iPad is important, and we've gone through dozens to compile this roundup of useful ones. We're still searching for the holy grail of the perfect iPad case, but many of the examples collected here are either solid all-around products … Read more

Searching for the perfect iPad/Netbook man-purse

Computing may indeed be reaching a crossroads where ultraportable devices become as easy to tote as a softcover book or a thick issue of GQ. It certainly seems that way when toting an iPad or a thin Netbook around. Unfortunately, neither has solved the problem of making a bag for these devices that's not semi-humiliating.

The joke about "iPad murses" has circulated the office for months now, yet there still hasn't been a clear-cut bag that's conquered the stereotype. We tried on a few recent offerings for some quick impressions, along with what we call … Read more

Construction cost estimator

Accurately estimating construction costs is the key to preparing bids that win contracts without bankrupting the contractor. Misronet's e-STM8 Construction Estimating Software is a useful tool for estimating job costs and submitting winning bids, but it can also manage jobs, material costs, and subcontracting. It's suitable for both the U.S. and international construction markets, too.

The efficient interface is typical of Windows utilities: File menu, icon-based toolbars, left-hand tree view for navigation and selecting functions, and a main display window subdivided into smaller windows, entry fields, and other features as needed. A Help menu and useful examples … Read more

A car for the eco-minded bootlegger

Cars that run on alternative sources of energy needn't look like one of those sober vehicles produced by Eastern Bloc countries at the height of the Cold War economy. At the same time, we're not sure if this Chinese-made model is headed in the right direction either.

The "STM3004 Electric Car" looks vaguely like something Bonnie and Clyde would have ridden, Tommy guns ablaze, with state troopers on their tail. But this version wouldn't make much of a getaway, as Red Ferret notes, as it tops out at 28 miles per hour and has a … Read more