GPS Bullets Could Make High-Speed Car Chases Obsolete

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1. The obsolescence of the car chase.

"Over the past few years, companies like Starchase have begun developing technologies like its 'GPS bullet' pursuit management system, which the company describes as a 'real-time tagging and tracking tool to reduce dangerous high-speed pursuits.' The Starchase system can be mounted to the front-grill of police cruisers, and it fires stick-on 'GPS bullets' or tracking devices at the suspect's vehicle through a compressed-air launcher. 'The dispatcher then views the location and movements of the tagged vehicle in near real-time on a digital roadmap via a secure Internet connection,' thus rendering a dangerous high speed car-chase unnecessary. The system is being tested by a number of police departments around the US."


2. A loving, exciting portrait of San Francisco's Phelan Building.

"We found our building there, with more than a few layers of additions and corrections accumulated over time (pity one cannot peek underneath and revert to original). What caught our attention was the bungalow on the roof, or 12th floor — when we already knew there were supposed to be only eleven! We found some old photos of this little roof penthouse from when Mr. Phelan was entertaining the dignitaries there... Apple Maps confirmed the existence of something on the roof."

Everyone should do this for the buildings they work in. I'm serious.


3. Research into spicy chiles may yield new painkillers.

"The same mechanisms build the body’s internal thermometer, and some animals even use them to see in the dark. Understand these pathways, and the humble chilli may open new avenues of research for conditions as diverse as chronic pain, obesity and cancer."


4. Food engineers are hard at work on your behalf

"This study used rheological techniques such as uniaxial compression, wire cutting, and dynamic oscillatory shear to probe the physical properties of pizza Mozzarella cheeses. Predictive models were built using compositional and textural descriptors to predict cheese shreddability... The principal component analysis markedly contrasted the adhesion of cheese to the shredding blade with other shredding properties such as the production of fines or long shreds. The predictive models and principal component analysis can help manufacturers select relevant descriptors for the development of cheese with optimal mechanical behavior under shredding conditions.


5. What MIT's Rodrigo Davies learned from two years studying 'civic crowdfunding.'

"So how is civic crowdfunding doing? When I started this project very few people were using that term. No one had done any aggregated data collection and published it. So I decided to take on that task. I collected data on 1224 projects between 2010 and March 2014, which raised $10.74 million in just over three years. I focused on seven platforms: Catarse (Brazil), Citizinvestor (US), Goteo (Spain), IOBY (US), Kickstarter (US), (US) and Spacehive (UK). I didn’t collect everything. There’s a new crowdfunding site every week that may or may not have a few civic projects on it... I don’t pretend to have captured every civic project that has ever existed, but I'm working with a representative sample."


Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

bête noire. 'Black beast'; bug-bear, (pet) aversion. See FRENCH WORDS. Those who wish to use the phrase in writing must not suppose, like the male writer quoted below, that the gender can be varied. WRONG: From the very first, & for some reason that has always been a mystery to me, I was his bête noir.


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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