Stories by Author

Evan Ackerman

Evan Ackerman is a native Oregonian who now lives, somewhat unwillingly, in San Francisco. He has a background in creative writing and astrogeology, neither of which are necessarily appropriate for someone who is now a full-time blogger. Evan also writes for IEEE Spectrum's robotics blog, and when he's not parked at his computer with his eyes glazed over, you can find him getting injured on a soccer field or playing bagpipes excellently.

You know all those fancy high-speed trains? The sad fact is that for a lot of the time, they're not moving any faster than my living room is moving right now. Trains waste a huge amount of time and energy picking up passengers at stations, but if it were somehow possible for the stations to meet the train, things would be a lot more efficient.
Flying saucers are generally associated with UFOs, with that "U" in there standing for "unidentified." But the saucer shape isn't just limited to aliens from outer space: there are a fair number of entirely identified terrestrial aircraft that utilize a more or less circular and saucery design. We've got a list of ten flying saucers for you, each of which made it far enough out of someone's imagination that at the very least a proof of concept was constructed. No blurry pictures that may or may-not-be-streetlights here: these are all real designs that actually existed.
The SonicStar supersonic business jet concept looks like it fell out of the long and pointy tree and hit every branch on the way down. It looks the way it does for a very good reason: it's designed to travel quietly and efficiently at Mach 3.5, which gets you from London to Los Angeles so fast that you'll barely have time to get fed up with the in-flight movie.
Amtrack is pretty proud of its 150 mph Acela Express. California will be pretty proud of its 220 mph high speed rail project, if it ever happens. Japan is poised to leave us all in the dust, though, with a new maglev train slated to connect Tokyo with Nagoya and Osaka at a knuckle-whitening 313 mph.
With NFC wireless payment technology taking its sweet time to integrate itself into anything useful, the market is wide open for some clever new system to save us all from the hassle of having to carry around and use credit cards to pay for stuff. One company has hit on a way to make payments without any fancy hardware, using music only machines can hear.