Eric Knight Inventor. Entrepreneur. Author. Futurist. Business & Internet Pioneer.
Browsing all posts in: Cool

Take a look at my book:
The New Race To Space

May 4

You saw it on the news. You read about it in the press. But now you can learn the inside story of the team that launched the world’s first civilian rocket into space.

As many of you know, I was one of the team leaders of this historic mission.  On May 17, 2004, after years of agonizing rocket crashes and catastrophes — some quite spectacular — we accomplished our remarkable goal.

I stuffed the book with 90 full-color photos to bring the adventure to life in vivid detail.  It’s 244 pages long in a wonderfully oversized 6×9 format.  (Paperback size wouldn’t do justice to the glorious color images.)  Check out the covers here.

I encourage you to check out my book’s companion Web site at www.TheNewRaceToSpace.com.  You’ll see lots of interesting videos and other neat stories.

Enjoy!

Eric Knight — cranking out rock tunes (on guitar and harmonica) — helps raise $1,500 for local food pantry.

July 27

You know what they say about all work and no play.  So I took a little time out from business to play some classic rock with my ol’ buddy Arnold “Arnie” Aranci and his sons.  The goal:  Raise money for our hometown’s food pantry at the inaugural “Hamstock” event.  We way exceed our goal, raising $1,500.

Enjoy the following HD YouTube videos:

Last Dance With Mary Jane (Tom Petty).  Arnold “Arnie” Aranci, Eric Knight, Christopher Aranci, Anthony Aranci:  

Takin’ Care Of Business (Bachman Turner Overdrive).  Arnold “Arnie” Aranci, Eric Knight, Christopher Aranci, Anthony Aranci:  

Johnny B Goode (Chuck Berry).  Arnold “Arnie” Aranci, Eric Knight, Christopher Aranci, Anthony Aranci:  

At a recent aerospace event, astronaut legend — Buzz Aldrin — and I exchanged signed copies of our books. But that’s just for starters…

July 27

Eric_Knight_with_Buzz_Aldrin_400x239_copyright_Eric_KnightBuzz and I are part of a growing team of advisors, astronauts, aerospace companies, universities, and energized students of the Time Capsule To Mars project that is designed to send your “selfies” to Mars for 99 cents each. (Yes, you read that right!)

To be working with Buzz Aldrin — one of my childhood heroes — is a tremendous experience. The student-led Time Capsule To Mars project combines my passion for student enterprise and new frontiers in aerospace. If you’d like more info, check out www.TimeCapsuleToMars.com

“Aquarids” meteor shower this Monday night / Tuesday morning; should outperform the annual favorite, Perseids.

July 26

The moonless sky and fair weather forecast throughout many parts of the U.S. means a great celestial event.  Just grab a lawn chair.  Lie down and look generally south / southeast towards the horizon.  And enjoy the show!  (No telescope or binoculars required.)  After your eyes fully adjust to the dark (give it 10 minutes), you should see up to 20 meteors per hour.  Best time should be about 1am on Tuesday morning.  The following is a great article with particulars:  http://bit.ly/1otTi2x  Watching a meteor shower is a great family event and educational experience.  Have fun!

Image courtesy National Geographic / Starry Night Software

Watch Stunning First Simulation of Universe’s 13-Billion-Year Evolution (from National Geographic)

May 8

(National Geographic) “Until now, no single simulation was able to reproduce the universe on both large and small scales simultaneously,” Mark Vogelsberger of MIT and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who led the simulation team, says in a statement. Using a computer program, the team grew the virtual galaxies in simulated time, starting from 12 million years after the big bang (which kicked off about 13.8 billion years ago), they report in a study released this week by the journal Nature.

For the complete article, please visit here.

Will Comet LINEAR produce a new major meteor shower in 2014?

May 4

comet-LINEAR-meteor-shower-orbit-graphicFrom EarthSky: The list of major meteor showers hasn’t changed much in recent decades, but it has changed a little. Meteor showers are part of nature, after all, and the list of major showers shifts and changes slightly, as all things in nature do, with one shower or another becoming more or less exciting as the years pass. In 2014, though, an exciting new meteor shower might come on the scene. This possible shower stems from a comet — Comet 209P/LINEAR — discovered in 2004. Comet 209P/LINEAR passed near the sun in 2009 and will pass near it again in early May, 2014. On the night of May 23-24, 2014 — if the predictions hold true — Earth might be sandblasted with debris from this comet, resulting in a fine display of meteors, or shooting stars. Mid-northern North American latitudes are favored. Follow the links below to learn more about the possible 2014 meteor shower of Comet 209P/LINEAR.

As for the predicted time of the shower … skywatchers in southern Canada and the continental U.S. are said by the experts to be especially well positioned to see the meteors on the night of May 23-24, 2014.

For the complete article, with excellent graphics and references, please click here.

Image courtesy of NASA / JPL / Horizon / Sky and Telescope / EarthSky

Another wonderful year as a Judge at the 31st annual Connecticut Invention Convention!

May 3

connecticut-invention-convention-floorOne of my proudest and rewarding highlights of every year is as a Judge at the Connecticut Invention Convention. Kindergarten to 8th grade kids envelop Gampel Pavilion — the home of our dual UConn Husky basketball champions, of course! Hundreds of students, from across Connecticut, show off their amazing brilliance and creativity. It is so inspiring!

I’ve included two photos (above and below) from the event. Enjoy!

– Eric

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about this wonderful event and associated year-long program, here is a link to the home page of the Connecticut Invention Convention: www.ctinventionconvention.org

connecticut-invention-convention-stands

Solved! Bluetooth calls with PIN locked screen || Bluetooth voice dialing with screen lock

March 1

samsung-galaxy-s4-plus-motorola-H730-headsetHere’s a RELIABLE solution to Bluetooth voice dialing even with a PIN locked screen.  I’ve tested it with two Samsung Galaxy S4 phones — one running Android 4.3 and the other running Android 4.4.2.

The magic combination is Motorola’s MY MOTOSPEAK version 3.0.57 (a free download from the Google Play Store, updated January 13, 2014) and the Motorola H730 headset.

Bluetooth voice dialing with a locked screen has been a major topic on Android forums.  A reliable solution has been elusive.  The latest release of MY MOTOSPEAK + the Motorola H730 headset seems to do the trick.

A great fringe benefit is that MY MOTOSPEAK also does voice to text messages.  I’ve been really impressed with the translation accuracy.  It also supports dozens of punctuation symbols and many popular emoticons.

Of course, I can’t absolutely guarantee that this combination will work for you.  But after eight months of trying various headsets and software options, this combination works reliably for me.

Hope this helps.  Feel free to spread the word!

Would you like to fly to Mars? Here’s the next best thing…

January 19

time_capsule_to_mars_spacecraft_rendering_for_online_distributionMy company is a proud supporter of the international student team that’s planning to build and fly a small spacecraft to Mars. On board would be a two-inch-diameter titanium “time capsule of humanity” containing perhaps millions of digital photos, videos, audio files, and text messages from people all over the world — including you.

Your digital creations would be stored on new “quartz” media that, by some estimates, will survive on the surface of Mars for up to 300 million years.

This would be the world’s first interplanetary space mission led by a non-government team. Other key mission supporters include MIT and Explore Mars, Inc. Details of the mission can be viewed at this link.

While the students are working on the essential science, they are also looking for creative names for both the spacecraft and the Mars “time capsule” lander. The goal is to unleash the world’s creativity in every aspect of the program. The individuals who submit the chosen names will get special digital allocations in the time capsule’s quartz memory, as well as other unique tributes. To submit your name ideas, visit www.TimeCapuleToMars.com.

New benchmark for quality, low-cost LED lighting

January 19

cree-led-bulbA friend gave me a heads up on these Cree LED bulbs a couple months ago.  At Home Depot, they’re just $4.97 for the 40-watt equivalent (450 lumens) and just $6.97 for the 60-watt equivalent (800 lumens).  You’ll save 85% on energy costs vs. traditional incandescents — so they’ll cost you only about a buck a year to run.  The light is great.  They look like “real” bulbs.  They’re dimmable.  And they’ll last over 20 years.  A slam-dunk winner!

After 36 years and 12 billion miles, Voyager 1 crosses into interstellar space — becomes humanity’s “first true starship”

September 12

(CBS)  Covering nearly a million miles a day, NASA’s nuclear-powered Voyager 1 spacecraft, 36 years and 12 billion miles from Earth, has crossed the boundary between the sun’s influence and interstellar space, sailing into the vast gulf between the stars to become humanity’s first true starship, scientists announced Thursday.

“In leaving the (solar system) and setting sail on the cosmic seas between the stars, Voyager has joined the other historic journeys of exploration such as the first circumnavigation of the Earth and the first footprint on the moon,” said Voyager project scientist Ed Stone.

“This historic step is even more exciting because it marks the beginning of a new era of exploration for Voyager, the exploration of the space between the stars.”

To read the full story, click here.   Image courtesy of NASA

See Friday night’s rocket launch to the moon from your backyard!

September 4

Most places on the central East Coast, all the way up to northern New England, will be able to see this Friday night’s maiden launch of America’s new five-stage “Minotaur V” rocket.  It will transport NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft (LADEE) to the moon.

The launch is scheduled for 11:27pm EDT from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  Use the associated graphics and your location to determine the number of seconds from launch the rocket will be visible, the direction to look, and how many degrees above the horizon the rocket will appear.   For instance, if you’re in New England, it should be visible 80 seconds after launch, towards the south, about 10 – 15 degrees above the horizon.

The weather forecast for Friday night, at the launch site and for viewing, looks great.

For more information about the moon mission, visit http://www.space.com/22635-american-minotaur-5-rocket-launch-debut.html

Images courtesy of NASA Wallops, Orbital Sciences Corp., and SPACE.com

 

Cool. The world’s first transparent speaker!

August 31

(PHYS.ORG)  This is a photograph of the world’s first transparent speaker “…consisting of a thin sheet of rubber sandwiched between two layers of a saltwater gel, and it’s as clear as a window. A high-voltage signal that runs across the surfaces and through the layers forces the rubber to rapidly contract and vibrate, producing sounds that span the entire audible spectrum, 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz. But this is not an electronic device, nor has it ever been seen before.

Published in the August 30 issue of Science, it represents the first demonstration that electrical charges carried by ions, rather than electrons, can be put to meaningful use in fast-moving, high-voltage devices. Ionic conductors can be stretched to many times their normal area without an increase in resistivity — a problem common in stretchable electronic devices. Secondly, they can be transparent, making them well suited for optical applications. Thirdly, the gels used as electrolytes are biocompatible, so it would be relatively easy to incorporate ionic devices—such as artificial muscles or skin—into biological systems. After all, signals carried by charged ions are the electricity of the human body, allowing neurons to share knowledge and spurring the heart to beat. Bioengineers would dearly love to mesh artificial organs and limbs with that system.”

For the full article, click here.  Photo courtesy Christoph Keplinger and Jeong-Yun Sun, Whitesides and Suo Research Groups, Harvard University

Amazing discovery! A colossal canyon — the longest on Earth — discovered under Greenland’s ice sheet.

August 31

According to the journal Science “…the broad chasm is up to 2,600 feet (800 meters) deep and 6 miles (10 km) wide, similar to America’s Grand Canyon in scale… The distinctive V-shaped walls and flat bottom suggests water carved the buried valley, not ice…  The canyon predates the ice sheet that permanently covered Greenland about 1.8 million years ago.”   The accompanying graphic is a 3-D image.   For the full article, follow this linkImage courtesy of J. Bamber, University Bristol

NASA lets Curiosity rover drive itself on Mars with first use of autonomous navigation

August 30

(JPL)  NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has used autonomous navigation for the first time, a capability that lets the rover decide for itself how to drive safely on Mars.

This latest addition to Curiosity’s array of capabilities will help the rover cover the remaining ground en route to Mount Sharp, where geological layers hold information about environmental changes on ancient Mars. The capability uses software that engineers adapted to this larger and more complex vehicle from a similar capability used by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which is also currently active on Mars.

Using autonomous navigation, or autonav, Curiosity can analyze images it takes during a drive to calculate a safe driving path. This enables it to proceed safely even beyond the area that the human rover drivers on Earth can evaluate ahead of time.

On Tuesday, Aug. 27, Curiosity successfully used autonomous navigation to drive onto ground that could not be confirmed safe before the start of the drive. This was a first for Curiosity. In a preparatory test last week, Curiosity plotted part of a drive for itself, but kept within an area that operators had identified in advance as safe.   For the complete article, click here.  Image courtesy of NASA.

Google acquires smartwatch maker WIMM — to compete with Apple and Samsung

August 30

smartwatch-google(Bloomberg)  Google Inc., which develops the Android software used on mobile devices, has purchased smartwatch designer WIMM Labs, stepping up efforts against competitors in the wearable-computing market.

Google, which didn’t provide details on the acquisition, completed the deal in 2012, the company said in an e-mailed statement. WIMM Labs, based in Los Altos, California, had unveiled a smartwatch design in 2011 that included a full-color touch screen, Internet access and sensors for tracking the owner’s motions, the company said.

Google, owner of the world’s largest search engine, is ramping up in wearable computing to woo consumers in the emerging industry. The purchase comes as new smartwatch devices are on tap from rivals Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, a wristwatch-like device with features of a smartphone, will be introduced Sept. 4, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

For the complete article, click here.

How to grill the perfect steak in FIVE MINUTES FLAT! (And minimize grilling carcinogens, too!)

August 17

grill-steak-in-five-minutesNothing beats a steak cooked on an open flame. Nothing. But what if you’re short on time but still want that grilled-flame flavor? Well, I’ve been experimenting. (Yes, I still play with my food!) Just take your steaks, put them on a microwave-safe plate, and cover them with a piece of white paper towel (“Bounty” etc.). Pre-cook them in the microwave on high for about 2.5 minutes per total pound of meat. While the microwave is doing its job, heat up your grill. Get it nice and hot. (I get the temperature to about 400 degrees F.) Then pop the pre-cooked steaks on the grill. Cook the steaks for three to four minutes on one side — and then flip. Cook for another minute or two. Presto! You’ll be really, really surprised at the flavor. I am a grilled-steak aficionado, but I’m not sure if I can tell the difference.

FRINGE BENEFIT: If you are concerned about the potential carcinogens caused by grilling — heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — then you’ll also be doing yourself and your family a favor with this combination cooking method, as it dramatically shortens the time on the grill. BTW, the photos in this post are rib-eye steaks that me and my wife, Elsie, recently cooked with this super-quick method.  And they were delicious!

Crank up “Stairway to Heaven” by Ann & Nancy Wilson (HEART) and Jason Bonham — in HD and great sound!

July 5

Turn up your speakers for this full-length, unedited performance of rock’s ultra-classic “Stairway to Heaven” as performed by Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, Jason Bonham (son of the late drummer, John Bonham), and their combined bands HEART & Led Zeppelin Experience at the 4th of July “The Heartbreaker Tour” concert at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. My wife and I had the great pleasure of attending the concert, and I snapped this video with my amazing Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone in HD. Enjoy!

Voyager spacecraft surfs solar system’s edge

June 28

[BBC News]  Ed Stone cannot say when the Voyager-1 spacecraft will leave the Solar System, but he believes the moment is close.  The latest data from this extraordinary probe, reported in this week’s Science journal, suggests it is surfing right on the very edge of our Sun’s domain.

The particles streaming away from our star have reduced to a trickle at its present location, 18.5 billion km from Earth.   Particles flying towards it from interstellar space, by contrast, have jumped markedly in the past year.  It all points to an imminent departure, which would make Voyager the first man-made object to cross into the space between the stars.

“It’s hard to imagine there’s another layer between the one we’re in and the outside,” Dr Stone told BBC News. “Topologically, it makes sense that this is the outermost layer. The only question is: how thick is it?”

Launched way back in 1977, the probe has now travelled so far from home that its constant chatter of data takes 17 hours to arrive at the US space agency’s receiving network. And chatter, it does.

Voyager’s instruments are busy sampling the far-flung environment. This has allowed Dr Stone and colleagues to map the shape and reach of the heliosphere – the giant bubble of charged particles blown off from our Sun.

For the complete article, click here  Image courtesy of the BBC and SPL.

Don’t miss the alignment of Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury at sunset on May 26th

May 21

planet-alignment-jupiter-mercury-venusHere’s something fun (and educational for the kids) on this upcoming Sunday, the 26th:  Look to the west in the evening twilight after sunset and you’ll see the triple conjunction of three planets:  Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury.  You’ll need an unobstructed view of the western sky, as the planets will be just above the horizon.  Click here for an excellent article and animation from NASA Science News.  Image courtesy of NASA.

NEW PHILIPS 60-Watt-Equivalent LED Bulb. A bargain at its new price point! Read my review here…

March 17

PHILIPS_new_60w_equivalent_LED-bulbOver the last week, I have been testing the very latest PHILIPS 60-Watt-Equivalent LED bulb.  It’s fantastic.   It looks great.  The light is excellent.  It uses just 11 watts.  And it delivers 830 lumens — 30 more lumens than my previously reviewed PHILIPS LED bulb and EcoSmart LED bulb.  And, unlike the prior PHILIPS bulb, this one is dimmable!  The light is a very pleasing white, 2700 Kelvin (“K”).  Life expectancy, based on three hours per day, is an amazing 22.8 years.   According to recent reports, the bulb is 17% more efficient than its previous generation and uses 12% less power.  The icing on the cake:  Home Depot recently dropped the price ten bucks — from $24.95 to $14.95.  At this new price point, this is a superb bulb.   In fact, it may have just become my favorite LED bulb in the 60-watt-equivalent LED category.

Below is a picture of the new bulb in its well-designed packaging…PHILIPS_new_60w_equivalent_LED-bulb_in_packaging

PHILIPS 60-Watt Equivalent LED Bulb vs. EcoSmart 60-Watt Equivalent LED Bulb. Read my product review and comparison here…

March 17

EcoSmart_LED_bub_vs_PHILIPS_LED_bulbsAs part of my ongoing LED light bulb reviews, the following is my real-world testing of the PHILIPS 10.5-watt (60-watt-equivalent) LED bulb.   As my regular readers know, I have really liked the EcoSmart 60-watt LED.  (Click here for my review of the EcoSmart LED.)   I’ve recently been trying out the PHILIPS 60-watt-equivalent LED bulb.  The PHILIPS bulb delivers the same number of lumens — 800 lumens — with 10.5 watts.  The EcoSmart consumes 13 watts.  So the PHILIPS saves an extra 2.5 watts.  The light “appearance” are both 3000 Kelvin (“K”), which is a pleasant bright white. Cosmetically, the PHILIPS bulb is even closer in design to an old-style Edison bulb — rounded top with no side heat-sink flanges.   And the price per bulb is about the same.  Home Depot carries both bulbs, and they regularly run special-pricing between $9.95 and $14 per bulb.   HOWEVER, the PHILIPS does not work with dimmers.   Also, the PHILIPS bulb is not recommended for use in recessed down-lights.   Bottom line:  The light (color and brightness) from both LED bulbs is about the same.  The PHILIPS bulb saves a little more power — but is a little less versatile.   Both are high-quality bulbs that should serve you well.

 

EcoSmart 60-Watt Equivalent LED Bulb — read my product review here

March 16

EcoSmart 60-watt equivalent LED bulbAs part of my ongoing LED light bulb reviews, the following is my real-world testing of the EcoSmart 13-watt (60-watt-equivalent) LED bulb.  In case you haven’t noticed, traditional 100w & 75w incandescent bulbs have been phased out (all manufacturing in the U.S. has ceased). Why? Because although America has just 5% of the world’s population, we use 26% of the world’s energy. And lighting is a major culprit. I have been testing all sorts of replacement bulbs — so you don’t have to. Skip the compact fluorescents and head straight to the new generation of LEDs. They’re “instant on,” dimmable (most of them), and light a room just as good — or even better — than traditional bulbs.  The best bulb I’ve found so far is the “EcoSmart” 60-watt-equivalent “bright white” LED. Although packaged as a 60-watt replacement, it has nearly the same number of “lumens” (amount of visible light) as a 75-watt incandescent. It will last 25x longer than an incandescent bulb — up to 23 years! And only uses 13 watts of power. The color of the light is pleasing, too — a very natural, bright white. Bottom line: It will save you up to $161 vs. a regular 75-watt bulb. And it will keep working for a quarter century. It’s $9.95 at Home Depot — a great deal. I’ve included a photo so you can spot it quickly in the aisle. Suggestion: Buy one and try it. I bet you’ll like it! Let me know…

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Fires First Salvo at iPhone Dominance

March 15

(Bloomberg)  Samsung Electronics Co. fired the first of three smartphone salvos this year aimed at hurting Apple Inc in its home market, releasing a bigger and faster Galaxy S4 that reviewers said may only glance its target.  The device announced yesterday at New York’s Radio City Music Hall is lighter than predecessor S3 and has software to track movement of the eyes and waves of the hands. The Galaxy S4 will be able to take photos in two directions, monitor sleeping habits and translate commands into different languages as the South Korean company tries to lure customers in a slowing global smartphone market.  The handset, with a 5-inch screen and 13-megapixel camera, goes on sale in the U.S. on April 26 with carriers including AT&T Inc (T)., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc. The Galaxy S4 is among three high-end smartphones Samsung is releasing this year after being overtaken in the U.S. by the iPhone 5 in the fourth quarter.  For the complete article, click here.   Image courtesy of Bloomberg

Life on Mars? Curiosity proves Mars had the formula for life

March 12

(LA Times)  “Drilling into the Martian surface in search of signs of ancient life, the Mars Curiosity rover hit the jackpot, NASA said Tuesday.  The intrepid geologist on wheels analyzed a powdered sample pulled out of the Red Planet last month and  discovered some of the basic building blocks of life — and signs of a past environment capable of hosting primitive microbes.  ‘We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and is so supportive of life that probably if this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it,’ mission lead scientist John Grotzinger, a Caltech geologist, said at a news conference in Washington, D.C.”   For the complete article, click here.   Image courtesy of NASA

You’re essentially looking over my shoulder as I write, think, create, invent, and — in general — ponder the world around us.  Feel free to peruse my writings and chime in as you’re so inspired.  I encourage spirited debate.

This is a specially crafted multi-pronged conduit.  Everything I type feeds parallel simultaneous streams to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my e-mail broadcast system.  It’s a global tightrope without a net.  Oh, my.

No topic is off limits.  If you’re looking for a site that is “politically correct,” you’ve come to the wrong place.  Hit the back button on your browser now.

Lots and lots of new features are coming online.  They’re all in various stages of development.  You’ll soon see innovative things I’m working on — such as a live, streaming, two-way “TV channel” of sorts where you’ll be able to interact with me (audio, video, text) in real time as I type here in front of my computer.

This is my platform to push the boundaries of technology in every dimension.

Hang on tight.  We may achieve orbit.  Or we may sail off a cliff.  But the ride will be exhilarating.

– Eric

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