Full-scale Hyperloop test track to launch next year in California

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The first full-scale Hyperloop test track could be ready for trial runs as early as next year and it won’t be in Texas. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Elon Musk over the years, it’s that once he sets his mind to something, he wastes little time making it happen. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT for short) has acquired rights to 7,500 acres of land in California’s Quay Valley (a planned community) in order to build a five-mile test track. Construction of the project will be funded from money the company expects to take in through a public offering during the third quarter of this year.

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HTT CEO Dirk Ahlborn doesn’t like to call the project a test track. As Wired notes, this really isn’t a proof of concept or a scale model; it will apparently be open to the public at some point in which potential riders will be able to buy a ticket and go for a spin.

To reiterate, this is just a five-mile stretch of tube – far from the 400-mile version that Musk eventually wants to build to connect northern and southern California in just half an hour. As such, the shortened version won’t come close to the promised 800 mph speeds of the final Hyperloop as you need about 100 miles of track to reach such speeds.

hyperloop california tesla elon musk test track

Top speed runs won’t be a key metric with the first iteration. Instead, the HTT team wants to tweak practical elements of the setup such as boarding procedures and pod design.

Either way, it’s exciting to see the Hyperloop project move one step closer to reality and with any luck, it could seriously change the way we look at long-distance travel.

Source: Techspot

This $34 smartphone dongle can test for HIV in just 15 minutes

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Researchers at Columbia University have created a smartphone accessory capable of testing for HIV and syphilis. The device is hardly any bigger than your typical phone, is inexpensive to manufacture and can produce results in a fraction of the time such testing normally takes.

The smartphone accessory was recently put to the test in a small clinical trial in Kigali, Rwanda. Over the course of two weeks, 96 patients from three different health clinics trialed the unit which simply required patients to prick their finger to produce a small (one microliter) drop of blood. Researchers said the device performed about as well as commercially available tools already out in the field in terms of accuracy. The key difference is in price and time involved.

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Traditional lab equipment used to test for HIV and syphilis costs over $18,000 while the actual tests cost patients about $8.50 combined. The new smartphone dongle can be made for just $34 and takes only 15 minutes to process results. Existing lab hardware can take as long as two and a half hours to spit out its findings. What’s more, the device is incredibly energy efficient as it draws power from its host device. In testing with an iPod, researchers were able to conduct 41 tests before the music player needed to be recharged.

The accessory is seen as a medical breakthrough, especially in Africa and other parts of the developing world where AIDS is a major problem.

Source: Techspot

Sit back and enjoy this breathtaking timelapse video shot in 10K resolution

4K resolution may be the next big thing for the television industry but it hardly holds a candle to this breathtaking timelapse video shot in 10K with an 80-megapixel (if you were wondering, that works out to a resolution of 10,328 x 7,760).

The images were snapped with a Phase One IQ180 camera which retails for just south of $41,000. As you’ll no doubt see from the video, however, it’s one hell of a camera. And while it’s certainly not ideal for every situation, it more than gets the job done in this timelapse which is best viewed in full screen on the biggest monitor you can find.

Source: Techspot

Researchers build one-atom-thick silicene transistor

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Graphene has been heralded as the successor to the modern-day silicon that powers our electronics but don’t count the venerable material out just yet. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering have managed to create a transistor using silicene, the silicon version of graphene that’s just one atom thick.

Silicene is a volatile material that disintegrates when it reacts with oxygen in the air. As such, the research team built a sheet of it on a thin silver surface. It was then capped with aluminum oxide and by gently scraping away some of the aluminum, they were able to create source and drain contacts resulting in a field effect transistor. Hopes were high as electrons flowed through the silicene but the end results were a bit disappointing. Scientists and researchers had predicted that electrons would flow through the material much like they do with graphene but that simply wasn’t the case.

Instead, they observed electron mobility that was about 10 times less than expected. It’s unclear just yet if this is directly related to the silicene itself or perhaps a fault with their production technique. There’s still plenty of research that needs to take place before determining if silicene could overthrown graphene. Even still, it’s a pretty significant milestone. Assistant professor Deji Akinwande said the major breakthrough here is the efficient low-temperature manufacturing and fabrication of silicene devices for the first time.

Source: Techspot