X27 – ultra low light night vision color camera

As someone who works with technology for years now, I might sometimes appear as a “know all, seen all” kind of guy.  But that’s far from the truth.  Sure, there is plenty of technology I know or even slightly aware of.  But there is still a whole lot that blows my mind when I come across it.

Via this blog post, I came across an X27 – ultra low light night vision color camera.  And my mind is blown.  This technology provides high definition, color video images in ultra low light conditions (no moon, overcast).  The level of detail this camera picks up is simply unbelievable.  Check out this video comparing X27 to some other night vision technologies.

The X27 camera takes videos in darkness that looks like they were shot in the daytime. And they’re in color…none of this black and white, thermal, or infrared stuff. The camera was developed for military use, has an effective ISO rating of 5,000,000, and has a comically long name: “X27 Reconnaissance Day/Night high Fidelity true real time low light/low lux color night vision Imaging Security / Multi Purpose camera system”. Pricing information is not available, but I bet you’re paying for every single one of those words. (via digg)

Sure, military is probably the first and only sector that can afford this.  But as with anything, once the technology is available, it will make it’s way down to the rest of us, opening new doors in law enforcement, security, photography, movies and TV, entertainment, health and safety, environment and animal welfare, and other areas.

Super cool stuff!

Fruit Flies, Fighter Jets Use Similar Evasive Tactics When Attacked

Fruit Flies, Fighter Jets Use Similar Evasive Tactics When Attacked

When startled by predators, tiny fruit flies respond like fighter jets – employing screaming-fast banked turns to evade attacks. Researchers at the University of Washington used an array of high-speed video cameras operating at 7,500 frames a second to capture the wing and body motion of flies after they encountered a looming image of an approaching predator (abstract). ‘We discovered that fruit flies alter course in less than one one-hundredth of a second, 50 times faster than we blink our eyes, and which is faster than we ever imagined.’ In the midst of a banked turn, the flies can roll on their sides 90 degrees or more, almost flying upside down at times, said Florian Muijres, a UW postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper. ‘These flies normally flap their wings 200 times a second and, in almost a single wing beat, the animal can reorient its body to generate a force away from the threatening stimulus and then continues to accelerate,’ he said.

First there was the anternet, and now this?  It almost sounds like humans a giant insects…

RIP, Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949
Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the world famous AK-47 assault rifle, has passed away today, at the age of 94.  He was a true genius and a patriot of his country.  Coming from a very simple family, with very little education, after serving as a tank mechanic and later as a tank commander, after being wounded, he designed more than 150 models of small weapons – rifles, assault rifles, machine guns, etc.

Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer … I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery.

Such were the times, I guess – growing up in the post Civil War, Revolution and First World War country, serving during the Second World War and seeing all horrors and dangers first hand, his peaceful mind was turned the other way.

I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists … I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawn mower.

Looking into his engineering genius, I see the good old principle of keeping things simple:

When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, ‘All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed’ … So this has been my lifetime motto – I have been creating weapons to defend the borders of my fatherland, to be simple and reliable.

Truly inspiring.  RIP.

Mine-seeking dolphins make historic discovery

howell torpedo

Slashdot shares a story of mine-seeking dolphins making a historic discovery – a 11-foot long torpedo from 19th century.  Apparently, there were only 50 of this ever made, and this is the second one being discovered.

When first created, the Howell torpedo had major implications for helping the United States be the dominant naval force in the world. The design was quickly outdated, though. Only about 50 were ever made, between 1870 and 1889, when the technology was surpassed.

The 11-foot long torpedo is made of brass and had a range of 400 yards while traveling at 25 knots. Not bad for the 1800s.

The dolphins themselves follow simple system for alerting the Navy of any found objects. They take a dive and, if they find nothing, touch the back of the boat with their snouts. If they find something, they touch the front of the boat.

Sharks with laser beams and telepathic seals: it’s your move now.

The Secret Online Weapons Store That’ll Sell Anyone Anything

The Secret Online Weapons Store That’ll Sell Anyone Anything

The Bushmaster M4 is a 3-foot rifle capable of firing thirty 5.56×45mm NATO rounds, and used by spec ops forces throughout Afghanistan. It’s a serious weapon. But in the Internet’s darkest black market, it’s all yours. Who needs a background check? Nobody.

The Armory began as an offshoot of The Silk Road, notable as the Internet’s foremost open drug bazaar, where anything from heroin and meth to Vicodin and pot can be picked out and purchased like a criminal Amazon.com. It’s virtually impossible to trace, and entirely anonymous. But apparently guns were a little too hot for The Silk Road’s admins, who broke the site off from the main narcotics carnival. Now guns, ammo, explosives, and more have their own shadowy home online, far from the piles of Dutch coke and American meth. But the same rules apply: with nothing more than money and a little online savoir faire, you can buy extremely powerful, deadly weapons—Glocks, Berettas, PPKs, AK-47s, Bushmaster rifles, even a grenade—in secret, shipped anywhere in the world.

The end of Kalashnikov era

Cyprus Mail reports:

Moscow announced plans this week to modernise the Kalashnikov, giving a new lease of life to the Soviet-era assault rifle that is the mainstay of the Russian army and weapon of choice for paramilitaries and gangsters around the world.

This could be just another con (they call them government grants these days) to get the money without doing much.  Or this could indeed be some modernization effort which, no doubt, will ruin the rifle and any other technology involved in the process.  Fixing things that work well for so many people in so many different environments never brings anything good…

On the other hand, Kalashnikov being an assault rifle – a weapon designed for very specific purpose of killing people – I don’t necessarily see ruining it as a bad thing.

Warco – the news game

As someone who spends many hours in FPS games, I found the concept of an FPS game with no shooting – Warco – interesting and thought provoking.  As Ars Technica puts it:

Warco is a first-person game where players shoot footage instead of a gun. A work in progress at Brisbane-based studio Defiant Development, the game is a collaboration of sorts; Defiant is working with both a journalist and a filmmaker to create a game that puts you in the role of a journalist embedded in a warzone.

The game is still in production and it is not clear whether it will ever come out.  There is a trailer which gives a feel to how it might be.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQlkYY88wLM]

Slashdot thread already picked up the argument of whether you will be able to choose between Canon and Nikon equipment for the missions in the game.

Update (September 28, 2011): Also check out this Newsy video that shares a few more opinions about the possible impact of the game.  That’s where I’ve heard the term ‘war porn‘ for the first time.