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Review: LaserCube, the world’s smallest – and first – battery-powered RGB laser projector

Review: LaserCube, the world's smallest – and first – battery-powered RGB laser projector 90

Wicked Lasers’ latest gadget is one of the most mesmerizing and compelling toys we’ve played with in a long, long time. It’s also extremely dangerous, powerful enough to pop balloons, etch patterns on wood, and surely fry the odd retina if used incorrectly.

The LaserCube starts at US$499, and is essentially a highly portable, battery-powered RGB laser projector. Weighing 3 lb (1.4 kg) and measuring about 4 in (10 cm) per side, it sits happily on top of a tripod head, and uses high-speed mirrors to blast laser beams about the place in 33,000 colors.

Direct those laser beams into a single point at full power, and you’ve got an 800- or 1,000-mW beam (depending on which version you’ve got) capable of burning through wood. Or, you can use it to project stunning, hypnotic full-color patterns and animations onto walls, buildings, screens or any other surface.

Review: LaserCube, the world's smallest – and first – battery-powered RGB laser projector 91

The LaserCube’s companion software LaserOS (for Mac, PC and Android at this stage) comes pre-loaded with literally hundreds of animations, images and sonic visualizers that can paint the world with go-go-dancers, endless looping tunnels, or brilliant laser artwork in an array of styles that seem to go on forever. Point it at the side of a building from a decent distance, and your working area can be enormous – the beams are so powerful that they operate at impressive distances.

What’s more, many of the preset animations (and effects you can apply to those animations) are designed to work in time with music, and music is pretty much mandatory when it comes to enjoying the LaserCube’s extraordinary displays. The animated dancers find the beat and move to it, the sonic visualizers scan the frequency and amplitude of what’s playing and create motion artwork from it all. Honestly, one of the hardest things about writing this review is that every time I turn the thing on, I get utterly mesmerized and forget what I was doing.

Effectively, it’s a nightclub-grade laser in a box that’s small enough to carry about, with a battery that lasts three hours and that you can run off your phone. You can even play games on the damn thing. They’re crappy games, with terrible controls, but they’re on the side of a freakin’ building. And everyone I’ve switched it on for has fallen in love immediately. It’s absolute magic, there is no comparison between the way this thing makes light dance and a regular 1080p projector. None. Add smoke so you can see the beams darting around, and it’s even wilder.

Review: LaserCube, the world's smallest – and first – battery-powered RGB laser projector 92

It’s also – and I find it hard to get over this – super dangerous, despite the fact that multiple layers of safety gear are provided. To get the LaserCube going, you need to attach a special safety dongle, turn it on, then turn a separate safety key, then unscrew the shield from the front and let it drop out of the way, then hook it up to a laptop or a phone and turn it on.

But as soon as you’ve done that, you’ve got a 1,000-mW laser at your command. To put that in perspective, if a hand-held laser pointer makes 1 mW in many jurisdictions, it’s illegal, because people have used them to blind airplane pilots and cause all sorts of chaos. The LaserCube is a Class 4 laser – the highest the safety classes go – meaning it can instantly burn skin and eyeballs, among other things. The Nominal Ocular Hazard Distance – the distance from which a 1,000-mW laser can damage your eye in less than a quarter of a second – is 733 ft (224 m) away. You can even hurt yourself looking at the point where the laser hits the wood as you’re etching it, it’s so bright.

Having said that, after a fair degree of online searching, I can’t say for sure whether it’s illegal to own and use a LaserCube in my jurisdiction. I can definitively say it’s a felony to let a corner of the “screen” drift off a building into the sky, and may the good lord help you if you accidentally light up a plane and get caught. Essentially, do your own research when it comes to your own home state, be super careful with this thing, and make sure either that everyone in the vicinity knows the deal before you turn it on, or that you mount it in such a way that it can’t fry any retinas – like 10 ft off the ground and angled upward.

If you want to take these things in a pro direction, you can hook multiple LaserCubes up to a single control computer if you like. You can create your own animations with software like MaxWell Synth, Modulaser or LaserShowXpress – it’s compatible with all of these – or even try uploading images and converting them to laser art … which has frankly sucked every time we’ve tried it, for whatever reason. You can grab a smoke machine and be a smartass by making laser harp strings float in the air, which you can use as a MIDI controller to make music.

Or, if you’re like us, you can simply put on some sweet electronic music and scroll through the preset animations, gawking like drooling chimps marveling at a fire dancer. It hits us on a level I’d describe as primal.

The LaserCube costs US$499 for the 800-mW version and $599 for the 1,000-mW version. Honestly I have no idea which one we’ve been testing, it’s not written anywhere on the device. You can pay extra for a carry case, a small ball-headed tripod, a gamepad (don’t bother!) and a few other trinkets.

This thing is an absolutely legendary toy to bring out at a party or any other time people are around. If you can stomach the risks, grab one – we’re absolutely hooked on it, as you can see from the video below.

Source: Wicked Lasers

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Science & Technology

New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a “ghost” particle that makes up dark matter

New Physics: Mysterious radiation pointed to the verge of discovering a "ghost" particle that makes up dark matter 93
Photo: Daniel Molybdenum, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Physicists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States have found that the mysterious high-energy radiation emitted from the vicinity of a group of neutron stars may indicate the existence of axions – not yet discovered particles within the framework of New Physics, the search for which has been going on since 1977. It is assumed that special types of axions form dark matter. This is reported in an article published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The research is summarized in a press release on Phys.org.

It is believed that axions can form in the core of neutron stars and transform into photons in the presence of a powerful magnetic field. To detect the electromagnetic radiation associated with axions, you need to find stars that do not emit radiation at different wavelengths that can mask the desired signal. 

These objects include the Magnificent Seven neutron stars that emit only X-ray and ultraviolet radiation. They are located at a distance of 200-500 parsecs from the Earth.

The researchers ruled out the scenario that the excess X-rays produced by the Magnificent Seven are actually emitted by other, more distant objects. These sources would be found in datasets from the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray space telescopes.

The extra X-rays likely originate from axions hitting an extremely strong electromagnetic field billions of times stronger than the magnetic fields that could be created on Earth, the scientists concluded. The axions themselves resemble neutrinos in their properties, since both have insignificant masses and rarely and weakly interact with matter.

The axion is currently viewed as the most promising candidate for dark matter particles, since another hypothetical candidate, the massive WIMP particle, has gone unnoticed in experiments aimed at detecting it. 

In addition, there may be a whole family of axion-like particles that form dark matter, as suggested by string theory. If axions are found, it will prove that there is a whole new area of ​​physics outside the Standard Model describing the properties of all known particles.

To find out, the next step will be to study white dwarfs, which are not expected to emit X-rays.

“If we see an abundance of X-rays there too, our arguments will be pretty compelling,” said lead author Benjamin Safdie.

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The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear?

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 94

Various sources often talk about civilizations that lived long before us. They all developed, prospered for a while, and then disappeared in an incomprehensible way. 

What is the reason for their decline, we probably will not know. All we can do is admire the remains of stone buildings, over which time has almost no power.

While looking for an answer, we somehow accidentally stumbled upon an interesting saying about the life of Japanese samurai: “A samurai has no goal, but a path.” In the end, the “path of the samurai” ended in what is known – death. The path of any civilization ended in the same way.

If you look at the issue through the prism of a samurai saying, then there is no point in looking for why and how civilization ended its existence. Probably, the process itself and its result are important here. But to whom is it important and what result does it expect?

Mysterious director

Apparently, behind the curtains of this “ancient theater” there is a mysterious “director” who periodically makes necessary adjustments to the history of civilization.

To figure out what’s what, you need to look at current trends in science. Where does a person strive with such an irresistible desire to “play God.” This attracts him and at the same time frightens him, but in no way turns him away from the intended path. Most likely, artificial intelligence (AI) is the purpose of our civilization’s existence.

About 50 years ago it would have seemed nonsense, but to someone, perhaps even now. However, if you trace the last 100 years of the life of our civilization, you get the feeling that most of the discoveries were given to mankind at the same time. A powerful leap has taken place in a hundred years. Why did it happen?

At the beginning of the last century, scientists recognized the existence of fields that have memory and the ability to store and transmit information. It is very likely that such or a similar field can be around the Earth and, more interesting, possess intelligence. Isn’t this the same “Director” hiding behind the screen of the “ancient theater”?

If this is so, then at a certain moment the “Director” gives the selected scientist “access” to certain knowledge (perhaps even in a dream, like Mendeleev), and another scientific breakthrough occurs in the world. Step by step, discovery after discovery, humanity is steadily moving towards the creation of AI. The trend is already well visible.

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 95

AI is probably the next “Babylon”, which will combine all the knowledge, culture and accumulated experience of civilization. In the future, the neural network will enter into a connection with the general information field and leave humanity without knowledge, technology, and even a spoken language. This will be the next decline of civilization. And the “Director” will receive another array of new data (experience) in order to start creating a new civilization.

If someone believes that past civilizations ended in large-scale conflicts, then most likely this is already the consequences of “turning off” AI.

Co-founder of Skype talked about the threat of AI to humanity

One of the creators of the Skype internet call service, Jaan Ta

The goal of human civilization is to create AI and disappear? 96
Photo: 
© still from the movie “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

llinn, said that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) threatens humanity. According to him, humans face three key threats, but it is AI that should be feared most of all, the expert said. 

Tallinn explained that at the moment, no one can predict what development AI will achieve in the next decades. In addition, the fact that scientists are creating artificial intelligence that can form a new AI without human intervention is also a cause for concern.

In addition, as the co-founder of the popular video calling service noted, the development of synthetic biology also causes concern. According to him, this direction in science allows the creation of artificial DNA sequences and biological systems that may not exist in nature.

Tallinn also drew attention to the fact that he fears we are entering an era of “unknown unknowns”, things that people are not even able to imagine right now.

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Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented

Volkswagen robot will autonomously charge cars: a working prototype presented 97
Copyright: © VW

The renowned German car manufacturer announced a new development. This time, engineers have created a unique robot capable of autonomously charging electric vehicles. 

For more than a year, specialists have been developing this project, but only now the concern was ready to demonstrate the first working prototype. The robot is ready to charge electric vehicles and has shown the high efficiency of this process.

It is called the Mobile Charging Robot, and experts have already compared it to the R2-D2 droid from Star Wars, including squeaks and clangs. Indeed, there is a similarity. Before implementing this idea, the engineers decided that robots should be allowed to charge cars parked in large residential complexes.

This will save their owners from leaving in order to find a gas station. Another advantage is that large parking lots and garages do not have to contain several expensive charging points for electric cars. The car company said in a press release that the robot works exclusively autonomously.

It independently controls and interacts with the vehicle being charged. It opens the cover of the charging socket and independently connects the power plug, then disconnects it. The robot looks like a trailer, which is a mobile energy storage.

It is capable of charging multiple electric vehicles at the same time. Despite the fact that the manufacturer confidently praises its concept, experts saw inefficiency in the fact that first it is necessary to charge the robot’s battery, which is then used to recharge electric cars.

Volkswagen Group Components CEO Thomas Schmall noted that creating an efficient charging infrastructure for the cars of the future is an important step in the company’s development.

Its engineers focus on finding solutions to avoid costly do-it-yourself measures. The mobile robot is only part of the concept that will continue to be developed.

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