Rubber Band Machine Gun holds 672 elastic shots

I had a rubber band gun when I was a kid. It was made from a scrap of wood and had all the shooting accuracy of a blueberry pancake. Nonetheless, it came in handy for the local kid-wars. If only I had access to the Rubber Band Machine Gun, I would have ruled the neighborhood.

The elastic-flinging device has already shot past its $5,000 funding goal on Kickstarter. Rubber-band Gatling guns have been created before, but the Kickstarter project creator has refined the concept and brought the price down to the $100 level.… Read more

How Goodyear uses tech to make a faster race tire

AKRON, Ohio and INDIANAPOLIS -- If you want to know how a major Nascar race is won, think about the fact that when Ryan Newman won last month's Brickyard 400, his sub-three-second margin of victory was chalked up to having replaced just two tires on his last pit stop rather than all four.

Considering that a pit crew like the one that supports Newman can change all four tires in about 14 seconds (see video below), it's easy to see how choosing to skip replacing two may have saved him enough time to end up ahead of race … Read more

It's no stretch: Kid's rubber band gizmo could save lives

Sadly, one doesn't have to look far to find a story of an adult who accidentally left a child in a hot car. Young inventor Andrew Pelham has heard such tragic tales, and he decided to do something about it.

Pelham, 11, invented a simple device meant to remind tired or overwhelmed parents that a baby's onboard. The "E-Z Baby Saver" just nabbed a $500 runner-up award in the science and engineering division of the University of Akron's 2013 Rubber Band Contest, which tasked inventors in grades 5 through 8 with creating something made mostly from rubber bands.

Pelham's invention follows the old model of putting a rubber band reminder around the wrist.

One end of the device attaches to the back of the driver's seat by looping a rubber band around a head rest or handle. When parents click a child in, they flip the E-Z Baby Saver to the front seat, get behind the wheel, stretch the device across the driver's seat door, and hook it on the handle. … Read more

Apple: Patent we used against Samsung isn't dead yet

Apple today said that a patent it successfully used against Samsung in its 2011 U.S. lawsuit is not dead yet. That's despite a recent decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to render it invalid.

In a filing this afternoon, one of Apple's top attorneys noted that the company still has a chance to fight the decision by filing for an appeal with the USPTO, or -- if that fails -- by taking it to the courts.

"A 'final' office action does not signal the end of reexamination at the USPTO, much less … Read more

Secure the bath tub!

Shark Dash is another in a long line of Angry Birds clones, but offers enough variation in gameplay that it will appeal to any physics puzzle addict.

Like many sling-shot games, the goal with Shark Dash is to pull back, then fling your hero (in this case, a cute shark) to collect or destroy items in as few shots as possible. Also like Angry Birds, the storyline is simple: the evil rubber duckies have stolen Sharkee's girlfriend, Sally, and now Sharkee is exacting revenge while taking out the rubber duckies that continue to taunt him. Sound familiar? It's … Read more

NASA battles solar storm with rubber chicken

Calm down, already. NASA swears that the Earth absolutely, definitely will not be annihilated by a massive flaming belch from the sun this year.

But just in case you're still a little worried, you'll no doubt be reassured to know the august space agency is holding nothing back in its efforts to study the sun's activity in 2012. In fact, it's even gone so far as to enlist the help of a very, very serious group of high school students, equipped with that most serious of scientific instruments: the rubber chicken.

Yes, students of Bishop Union High in Bishop, Calif. -- along with their mentor, Science@NASA's Tony Phillips, and a group of fifth-grade assistants -- recently launched a rubber chicken into the stratosphere during the most intense solar radiation storm since 2003.

Don't post a nasty, budget-related comment just yet, though. This wasn't any old astrorubberchicken; this was Camilla -- the mascot of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory -- and she was wearing a specially knitted spacesuit complete with high-tech sensors for measuring radiation. She was also accompanied by a specially modified lunchbox equipped with four cameras, two GPS trackers, a cryogenic thermometer, two-dozen sunflower seeds, and seven insects.… Read more

Compete in summer games that are almost impossible

With almost 550,000 active apps in the iTunes App Store, you get plenty of variation, and one developer continues to release games that are downright silly.

Many iPhone gamers will probably remember Justin Smith's Enviro-Bear 2010 (99 cents) from Captain Games. When the game came out in 2009, our Mac and iOS freelance reviewer, Paul Hughes, started the review by saying, "Enviro-Bear 2010 is part game, part joke, part art piece, and part game-design experiment." In Enviro-Bear 2010, the premise is that you are a bear getting ready to hibernate and you must drive a car … Read more

New study shows 88 percent of auto repair shops recycle tires

From 1989 to 2001, a company called Used Rubber USA operated a retail store, offering cool gear to city-dwelling hipsters, on the corner of Fillmore and Haight streets in San Francisco. The company still turns old tires into book bags, wallets or belts and other merchandise--now online only.

Recycling used tires isn't a new idea, and now a study shows that most auto repair shops recycle tires rather than send them off to a landfill.

The organization Car Care Council has been urging auto repair shops to recycle more vehicle parts and engine fluids, in a consumer education campaign … Read more

Whiffers scented bands are smelly study aids

Smells are strongly tied in with memories. There's the aroma of buttered popcorn from your first date with your spouse. The fragrance of futility as your beloved old car finally coughed and died in a cloud of smoke. Ah, it's like it happened only yesterday.

Now you can harness the power of perfume with Whiffers, rubber wristbands aimed at the student population. Think of them as silly bands for academics.

Alliance Rubber Company lays claim to inventing the world's first imprinted wrist bands, so you can thank those folks for the gazillions of colors and causes being worn as accessories.

You may soon start noticing a faint odor of lavender, peppermint, or spearmint wafting from wrists. Alliance suggests using the peppermint to boost concentration and the lavender to relax and curb test anxiety.… Read more

Energy-harvesting rubber could power phones

Talk about the rubber hitting the road. Researchers from Princeton and Caltech have come up with a power-generating rubber material that could harness walking and other movement to charge electronic devices.

The material is made from nanoribbons composed of lead zirconate titanate, or PZT, a ceramic substance that's "piezoelectric," meaning it generates an electrical voltage when pressure is applied. The "piezo-rubber chips" are embedded in clear silicone rubber sheets that produce electricity when flexed.

The scientists--who detail their findings in the new issue of Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society--say the rubber sheets could one day appear in shoes that power cell phones and other mobile electronic devices as the user walks or runs.

What's more, "the new electricity-harvesting devices could be implanted in the body to perpetually power medical devices, and the body wouldn't reject them," said Michael McAlpine, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton who led the project.

For example, the biocompatible material could be placed next to a person's lungs and utilize breathing motions to power pacemakers, the scientists say. That could reduce the need for surgery to replace batteries in the device.

We've heard of other gadgets that can be powered by kinetic energy, including the Dance Charge, which is strapped around the arm and powered, as the name suggests, by dancing.… Read more