Light Start – PC killer, smart grenades, Disney prosthetics, a drone rifle, and a rocket test

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Now you can actually kill a computer using a USB stick

USB KillerNow we know how to set a computer on fire using a floppy-disk drive but this is something else. Those guys you’ve seen in IT at work? They’ve been waiting for something like this. They might have even been cooking up their own but the USB Killer 2.0 has beaten them to the punch. It’s now entirely possible to cook a PC by plugging in a USB stick. What happens is that, on plugging in this innocuous-looking USB stick, the USB port is hit with a negative 220 volt charge that fries the USB port, possibly extending further back into a computer. Some desktop machines might still boot after a jolt like this but a notebook? It’s dead, Jim.

Source: Dark Purple via Ars Technica

US Army to begin acceptance testing a smart grenade launcher in 2016

All those video games have had an impact on warfare and how it’s being developed. Witness the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, which is going to be undergoing acceptance testing for the US Army next year. It’s a smart grenade launcher, which can fire training, high explosive and armour piercing rounds. Add in Acid Rounds and you have a weapon from Resident Evil. But the XM25 is smarter than that, with an intelligent aiming system, the ability to detonate HE rounds at specific distances (letting it airburst over or behind a target in cover), and it comes fitted with night-vision. At this point, we’ve gone from Resident Evil to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.

Source: ATK

Star Wars, Frozen and Marvel prosthetics are heading to kids, thanks to Disney and Open Bionics

Open BionicsBeing a kid is hard enough without having something as awful as a missing limb grabbing negative attention for you. But perhaps Disney and Open Bionics, a UK-based prosthetics company, can help. Disney have given Open Bionics permission to create Star Wars, Marvel and Frozen-themed prosthetics for kids as part of the Techstar Disney Accelerator program. The benefits are obvious, as having an Iron Man arm is a lot cooler than missing a hand, and since the prosthetics are designed to respond to muscle impulses, they’re not just going to be cosmetic. Open Bionics hopes to have them available next year. The price? Around R6,600, hopefully.

Source: Medical Daily

Shooting down drones just got easier with the radio-powered drone rifle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX4XXLb_Vuw

Let’s get something straight. We like drones. Always have, probably always will. But they can be used for nefarious purposes and in a situation like that, we can see the need for shooting them down. The problem is that an F16 isn’t accurate enough and a shotgun tends to make a bit of a mess on the lawn. Who do you call? Battelle, a company that makes the DroneDefender. The DroneDefender is a directed energy weapon, meaning that it doesn’t actually fire anything more than radio waves and electromagnetic energy, stopping a drone from receiving commands from its user and putting it down on the ground.

Source: Battelle

Virgin Galactic test-fires their NewtonThree engine for a minute and a half

This is the sort of thing that you really need to watch the video of so hit the Read More section at the bottom of this newsletter if you’re not on the website. Virgin Galactic have just released a video of their NewtonThree rocket engine, which is going to be used to launch satellites into space. This is just a test-firing but it goes on for 90 unbroken seconds, which is a pyromanic’s dream. And ours, truth be told, as watching a massive, controlled flame with the power to launch objects into space has always made us have to go and sit down somewhere till the dizziness passes.

Source: Virgin Galactic (YouTube)

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