Scientists turn coffee into booze, stop short of recreating Four Loko

Kevin Lee Contributor, TechHive

Kevin is a small-time tech hound, amateur photographer, and a general know-at-least-something of all things geeky hailing from New York.
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Researchers from the University of Minho in Portugal have been messing around with two of our favorite vices: coffee and alcohol. Now they have found a way to combine the two into an 80-proof liquor that still has the nutty aroma of coffee. Unlike a mixed coffee drink like Irish coffee, this dual-shot beverage is actually fermented from the coffee beans themselves.

And yes, in case you were wondering, you can try it at home. According to Science Magazine, you’ll first need to heat coffee grounds in water at 325 degrees Fahrenheit to collect the resulting liquid. From there, you add sugar as well as yeast to begin the fermenting process, which you allow to run its course until the brew reaches around 40 percent alcohol content.

The one downside of this product is it destroys the caffeine in the coffee, so you won’t be able to get buzzed and caffeinated at the same time. (If you could, the FDA would probably want to have a word with you.)

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After a year on Mars, NASA's Curiosity rover changes our view of the solar system

Sharon Gaudin , Computerworld Follow me on Google+

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld.
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After just a year working on Mars, the NASA rover Curiosity is changing the way we look at our solar system.

Scientists say it may change how we look at ourselves, too.

“This work changes the picture of the solar system that we’ve had,” Jennifer Trosper, NASA’s deputy project manager for the Mars Science Lab Mission, told Computerworld. “In terms of the picture of the solar system that we all grew up learning, what if you draw a picture of it millions or billions of years ago and Mars was blue and looked more like Earth?

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Gizmo uses augmented reality to bring greeting cards into the 21st century

Elizabeth Fish Contributor, TechHive

Elizabeth Fish is a freelance writer who happens to run a hyperlocal news website in Lincoln, UK. She also covers all things geeky for TechHive.
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Even in this digital age, there's something intimate about receiving an old-fashioned paper greeting card or a handwritten letter. As you might expect, greeting card companies are looking to bridge the gap between analog and digital with the likes of e-cards, and some are even experimenting with augmented reality (AR) cards. San Francisco-based designer John Littleboy wants to combine the best of both the digital and physical worlds.

Meet Gizmo: It's a selection of paper cards that come to life when you point a smartphone or tablet running a specialized app at them. Your recipient will get a nice handwritten card, but with the added bonus of an AR character—maybe a robot or a mermaid or even a bulldog—that will appear onscreen and make your greeting a little more interactive. 

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Robots attach together to fly as one, show that teamwork isn't just for humans

Nick Mediati , TechHive Follow me on Google+

Nick is a freelance contributor and a former editor for TechHive and PCWorld. He likes puns and the color yellow.
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Here's the latest anxiety-inducing development for those who fear the coming robot insurrection: Researchers at ETH in Zurich developed a fleet of flying robots that can attach to one another and fly in almost any formation imaginable. The individual robots fly using a single propeller, and according to ETH researchers, one of these robots by itself "is erratic and uncontrolled" in the air. But combine the robots and attach them to one another, and they work in concert in order to achieve more stable flight.

The robots actually exchange information when attached to one another, which allows them to work together and determine how to control the thrust to keep the robot in the air without buzzing around like a drunken mosquito.

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Scientists use electricity to turn gelatinous gels into tiny machines

Kevin Lee Contributor, TechHive

Kevin is a small-time tech hound, amateur photographer, and a general know-at-least-something of all things geeky hailing from New York.
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In this slightly crazy cool video, researchers from North Carolina State University electrify soft hydrogels with a small charge to turn them into tiny rigid electronic devices. The incredibly cool science you’re witnessing here uses a process called ionoprinting in which scientists embed copper ions into a gel that stiffens sections of the material when it gets zapped with a small electrical charge.

In addition to its reaction to electricity, hydrogels have another unique trait in that they're one of the few solids that can be introduced into the human body without being flat-out rejected.

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Japan sends talking robot into space as part of program to help lonely people

John Ribeiro , IDG News Service

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service.
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Kirobo, a talking robot that also recognizes faces, was launched Sunday on a cargo transfer vehicle and will reach the International Space Station in six days.

The robot is part of a program that aims to provide companionship using such devices to people living alone including the elderly.

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MakerPlane is an open source airplane you could build at home

Kevin Lee Contributor, TechHive

Kevin is a small-time tech hound, amateur photographer, and a general know-at-least-something of all things geeky hailing from New York.
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When it comes to building vehicles, cars are relatively easy. So are boats. Heck, you can even make your own model rockets without a hitch (mostly). But putting together a plane requires some real aviation design and expertise.

The MakerPlane is an open-source project that’s looking to change all that—along with the aviation industry. Instead of going through all the aeronautical engineering to make sure your plane will fly right, the flight-experienced minds behind MakerPlane propose building a plane from digital plans that you can fabricate using computer-controlled systems like CNC machines and 3D printers.

MakerPlane

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