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Stuntman Gary Connery makes the highest non-protected–like, without a parachute–skydive ever, crashing 2,400 feet into a pile of boxes. Read more here

Just like a great dish, this week’s Images of the Week roundup includes a delicate balance of all things we love: amazing space pics, adorable animals, beautiful design concepts, and a dude free-falling into a giant pile of boxes. Enjoy!

Cheetah Cubs

Delivered by a rare Ceasarian section, these two cheetah cubs managed to survive and are being raised at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, where they are currently melting hearts. Read more here.

Levitating Bed

Found via Reddit, this DIY bed “levitates” with the help of some magnets.

SpaceX Dragon Docks

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft finally docked with the ISS this morning–the very first private spacecraft to ever do so.

Facebook vs. Instagram

Facebook, oddly, released a photo app this week. The app isn’t odd, particularly; it’s nicely designed, easy to use, quite pretty (especially for the oft-design-challenged Facebook). What’s odd is that Facebook recently spent a billion dollars on Instagram–which is basically the same thing, right down to the filters. Buzzfeed FWD found some…interesting similarities between the filters of the two apps.

SkyDive

Stuntman Gary Connery makes the highest non-protected–like, without a parachute–skydive ever, crashing 2,400 feet into a pile of boxes. Read more here.

The London Array

The London Array is the world’s largest wind farm, located offshore. It’s expected to be completed sometime later this year.

Europa’s Water

Here’s what Earth (right) and Jupiter’s moon Europa (left) would look like if all the water was removed and shaped into a lovely blue sphere. Europa’s ocean is two to three times larger than our own. Read more here.

The Green Wheel

This hydroponic wheel was actually, according to FastCoDesign, thought up by NASA back in the 1980s as a way to grow plants in space. It was never actually made, for some reason, but designer Libero Rutilo brought it back in this mockup. Seems like it’s work well in apartments as well!

Pet Shark?!

National Geographic reader James Morgan sent in this shot of Enal, a young Indonesian boy, grabbing onto the tail of his “pet shark,” specifically a tawny nurse shark. Read more here.

Mars Rover, Photographer

Who knew the Mars Rover Opportunity was such an accomplished photog? Here it snaps a shot at the edge of the huge Endeavour Crater on Mars. Read more here.

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The Most Amazing Science Images Of The Week, February 20

Beijing is the site of the 7th Annual International Strawberry Symposium, in a district called Changping that’s apparently known for its strawberries. Here’s the thing: none of us will ever be as happy as that adorable child about to do a no-hands chompdown on those strawberries. For more great news images (strawberry-related or otherwise), check out American Photo for a full roundup of this week’s best photojournalism,.

It’s rainy/snowy/gross outside the PopSci headquarters in New York. But through the grey gloom, one little boy has given us the will to make it through the week. We call him Chomp Boy. Chomp away, Chomp Boy. You enjoy that berry. Enjoy it for all of us. As tribute, we’ve given him the prime spot in a particularly excellent roundup of the week’s most amazing images–exploding stars, x-rayed eels, and rockets screaming through the northern lights are all to come.

Sock-Sneakers. Snockners. Sneakocks?

Nike’s new running sneakers are designed like knit socks with soles, kind of. The line is called Flyknit, poised to capitalize on the hottest trend (of 2005), knitting, with a bunch of space-age reinforcement design. Read more over at FastCoDesign.

I <3 Foxconn

Foxconn employees attend a rally at the Foxconn campus in Shenzhen.

Viper Moray

This shot of a viper moray, a saltwater eel in the moray family, comes from a new exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History in D.C. called X-Ray Vision: Fish Inside Out. Read more about it here, or, better yet, just head to the museum. The exhibit’ll be there until August.

CHOMP.

Beijing is the site of the 7th Annual International Strawberry Symposium, in a district called Changping that’s apparently known for its strawberries. Here’s the thing: none of us will ever be as happy as that adorable child about to do a no-hands chompdown on those strawberries. For more great news images (strawberry-related or otherwise), check out American Photo for a full roundup of this week’s best photojournalism,

Windows, Meet iPad. iPad, Windows

OnLive, known mostly for their tech wizardry that allows you to play full, intensive videogames on any computer (or mobile device), has a new service called OnLive Desktop Plus. Desktop Plus turns your iPad into a Windows desktop, with gestures and multitouch intact, by hosting the actual OS on its beefy servers. Read more here.

Not a Lung

This might look like those photos of blackened, tar-encrusted lungs you find on foreign cigarette packs, but it’s actually a Hubble image showing the Eta Carinae system just prior to its supernova. It explodes in a dumbbell shape rather than a consistent sphere, interestingly enough. Read more here.

Encased in Itself

This isn’t frozen, and it’s not a candy shell. It’s an edible plastics-based container of yogurt, lightly crusted in oatmeal, and it’s part of a nutritious breakfast (in the future). Read more about how it was done here.

Crotchboard

Interior Design Climb

Rocks are outside, not inside. If you want to climb up an indoor wall, why not make hand- and foot-holds out of something a little more…interior? Like picture frames? This Japanese climbing wall looks so, so fun. Read more at io9.

Aurocket!

A two-stage suborbital rocket, screaming through the Northern Lights over Alaska. Read more here.

Apple And Samsung Bosses Meeting On May 21

As previously hinted, top dogs at Apple and Samsung will meet next month to discuss a possible settlement to the ongoing patent war which has seen minor casualties on both sides, but has otherwise failed to produce an outright winner. A new report claims the upcoming mediation will take place on May 21 and May 22, starting on each day at 9:30am.

The court-moderated settlement talk is to seek an alternative dispute resolution to the more than fifty lawsuits the two technology giants have filed against each other in little more than a year in courts the world over…

Apple, Samsung’s biggest buyer of components, will be represented by CEO Tim Cook. He will engage in talks with his counterpart at Samsung, CEO Gee-Sung Chog.

According to patent expert Florian Müeller, writing for his own blog FOSS Patents:

The meetings will take place in a San Francisco courthouse, while the litigation itself is before the San Jose division of the court. With Oracle v. Google, it was just the opposite: the case is currently being tried in San Francisco, but court-ordered settlement talks took place in San Jose.

Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, who is not directly involved with the lawsuit, will oversee the negotiations, according to FOSS Patents. Unfortunately, the mediation and statements from these talks will apparently remain confidential.

Apple once referred to Samsung in court documents as “the copyist”. The South Korean company returned favor by likening Apple customers to sheep in the Galaxy S III teaser video. A series of Galaxy S II commercials also indirectly spoofed Apple by painting those who would wait in the line for a new iPhone in unfavorable light, as seen below.

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The 51-year-old CEO of Apple asserted during a recent conference call with Wall Street investors that he’d rather settle, hinting he wasn’t fond of a “thermonuclear” option that late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs so fiercely pursued.

I’ve always hated litigation. We just want people to invent their own stuff. If we could get an arrangement where we can be assured that’s the case, and that a fair settlement on stuff that’s occurred, I would highly prefer to settle vs. battle.

Instead, a recent Bloomberg story pointed out, Cook is seeking ways to settle the long-standing patent dispute as he deems litigation a “necessary evil”.

Later in May, Cook will also open the annual All Things Digital technology conference, which takes place from May 29-31, 2012 at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak made a point recently by saying that successful corporations like Apple and Facebook were started by young thinkers with bold new ideas who didn’t have to deal with today’s messy patent issues.

Strategy Analytics pegged Samsung’s first-quarter smartphone sales at 44.5 million units, seemingly re-taking the crown of the world’s biggest smartphone maker by volume from Apple. During the same three-month period, California-based Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones.

Samsung also passed Nokia for the first time to become the leading cell phone vendor globally. However, it should be noted that direct performance comparison between Samsung and Apple is prone to inaccuracies because Samsung stopped divulging smartphone and tablet sales data last year, citing competitive reasons.

Research firm IHS iSuppli put shipments of Samsung smartphones at 32 million units, three million units behind Apple – quite an estimate gap between IHS iSuppli and Strategy Analytics.

As legal issues persist, the two frenemies continue to duke it out in both the courtroom and marketplace.

What do you think, will Apple and Samsung settle?

We know Apple demands up to $15 per each Android device sold.

Realistically, is this too high a royalty fee? Which party, if any, will prevail?

Bend It: The Science Of Gymnastics

Every four years, we watch. We marvel at badminton and wonder about the modern decathlon. With more than 300 gold medals awarded across 37 disciplines, our lives are suddenly much less productive. To aid in your immersion, we continue with our daily edition of “know your Olympic sport,” with more than you need to know about gymnastics.

Inside we’ll provide a trick to help you finally touch your toes, expose a fault in major equipment and challenge our readers to win back a gold for America.

Flex It

Apparently a simple split is not enough. With degrees of flexibility correlating with tenths of points, US gymnasts will try any form of Voodoo to get that limb just millimeters higher. Well aware of the value of an extra degree the ears of Dr. Bill Sands, leader of the Recovery Center for the USOC, perked up 15 years ago when he read research citing 100 percent improvements in flexibility in male physical education students.

“In a lot of sports, just making the shape is part of doing well. The elegance of the position itself is what’s pursued,” said Sands “The higher you can hold the leg, the better.”

“As a physiologist I’m struggling to find improvements of one percent and so when you can find improvements of 20 -100 percent, that’s big time,” said Sands. “The results have been staggering, not just small. It’s to the point where we stopped studying it because we know it works. It’s by far the biggest results in experiments that I’ve ever done”

While Sands is aware of full body vibration technology, he stresses that his research is based only on limb vibration. Research showing strength and weight loss potential from full body vibration has been contradictory at best. He also notes that full body vibration has a series of potential harmful effects and requires more data before widespread use.

To date Sands has worked with gymnasts, synchronized swimmers, divers and even figure skaters with universal results. The synchronized team like the contraption so much, they reversed engineered it and ordered one for each athlete to take home. The only problem Sands has is finding the right protocol. Apparently they all work. In different studies he’s altered the time on and off the machine and found positive results irrespective of timing. A welcomed complication, we’re sure.

Jump and Jive

It’s incredible what you can see at 500 frames per second. Tell someone to jump, and after asking how high, they’ll bend their knees to a point and then explode upwards and off the ground – down, then up. Simple and efficient. So why are the best gymnasts in the world adding an extra ‘down’ and ‘up’ when jumping on the spring floor and vault? The answer, according to Sands, lies in the floor.

In live footage, one might watch a gymnast on a spring floor and believe they jump just like we do (plus all those twisty things). But after a rash of injuries following the 2003 world championships held in the in the States, the USOC wanted to take a look at their equipment and ensure it wasn’t causing problems.

“Why they would want to bend twice I’m not sure. To comply with a normal takeoff the floor should go down when you go down and go up when you go up,” said Sands. “On a diving board you can move the fulcrum to make it behave the way you want it. Ideally you get the rhythm so you fall on the board when the board is at least going down. If you fall on it when it’s going up you waste a bunch of energy. What we think we’re seeing in spring boards and vault boards is like diving with a board that’s out of tune.”

Testing conducted on floors includes a dropping a weight on the mat to test the springs. While this provides some data, Sands notes it doesn’t accurately represent an athlete jumping and would never detect the minute problems. Sands has found one solution through lowering the stiffness of the springs, but this has an added, less desirable effect, of forcing the gymnasts to go longer on their somersault passes. Combined spring/foam floors could offer some opportunity for improvement but further research is necessary. Linking the issue to injuries or performance is premature at this point, but Sands knows the current situation is not optimal.

“It’s not only inefficient, but you’re going to put a lot of strain on the leg. They have to be staggeringly strong because the apparatus is tuned wrong. The effects on the athletes can only be counteracted by increasing their strength,” said Sands. “It’s a good recipe for rupturing an Achilles tendon”

Color-coded for optimal form

Pressure Cooker

Along with high-speed video, Sands has used Tekscan technology to map out the pressures applied by gymnasts during takeoff. While force plates are great for some applications, beneath a spring floor they’re rendered irrelevant. The Tekscan technology is worn on the foot of the athlete and with more than 1,000 sensors for foot. The result is a continuous color-coded pressure distribution of the footprint. The analysis showed gymnasts often relied on one foot more than the other (often in response to injury) and showed the normal progression during takeoff is toe-heel-toe. The data has been valuable for coaches looking to optimize form.

Shoe-In

A Shoe-In

Nike has done it again. For the second time in this series Nike is putting footwear on normally naked feet. The Nike Pidima (Greek for leap) is something between a shoe, sock and slipper designed specifically for the vault. The intent is to add some artificial stick to attempts at sticking the landing. A forefoot rubber pad provides the function while a skin colored single strap around the heel is intended to maintain a minimalist form.

A Youth in Asia

We close with a request of our readers. It’s likely, if not certain, that our women’s gymnastics team was cheated out of gold medals. While scoring will forever remain subjective, your age should not. Rumors before and during the Olympics swirled about female gymnasts on the Chinese national team who were supposed to be 16, thought to be only 14 and looked like they were nine. The Chinese were merely required to show a passport for proof of age— a passport that’s issued by the very authority which benefits from the gymnast inclusion. This isn’t the first time age has been a question on a national and international level. Daniel Almonte will forever be linked to the Little League World Series. Researchers associated with FIFA have looked at using wrist MRIs to verify ages of junior World Cup competitors. So to our readers we pose this challenge: if we can detect a whiff of marijuana by peeing in a cup, can’t we do the same for quantify age? As with our previous challenges, you develop it and we’ll write about it.

Celebrate Hubble’s 25Th Birthday With 26 Of Its Most Gorgeous Images

Twenty-five years ago today, Hubble launched into space, nestled in the bay of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Over those years, the space telescope produced the most inspiring images of the cosmos we humans had ever seen.

A great many of those eye-candy photos were created by one man, Zolt Levay, who joined the then-newly-formed Hubble organization in 1983 and has been there ever since. He’s the guy who takes the data that scientists collect with the telescope and re-mixes it into images made for public consumption.

When we decided to honor Hubble’s heritage with a gallery of 26 photos—one for each year of its orbital tenure, plus the official 25th-anniversary image—Levay seemed like the ideal person to curate it. Here are his picks.

1990: Supernova 1987A

In 1987, a star exploded in a nearby galaxy, giving astronomers their best view ever of a supernova. This picture, from three and a half years after the blast, shows a ring of material that was created by the pre-explosion star. The supernova heated that ring so much that it now glows brightly.

1991: Detail Of The Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula is the nearest giant-star nursery to Earth, so it was an important early target for Hubble. Many of the small dots here are stars with disks of dust around them, probably with planets forming inside. The discovery of the first planets outside our solar system would be announced the next year, in 1992. Strong evidence that stars with planets are common—a fact hinted at by the abundance of planet-forming disks here—is just being uncovered today.

1992: Black Hole At A Galaxy’s Core

When this image was taken, the existence of actual black holes were still uncertain enough that the Hubble press release called them “theoretical objects.” At the time, this was the best pic astronomers had of a candidate black hole. The orange light in the image is glowing gas and dust at the very center of a galaxy called NGC 4261. It’s bright at the very center because the gas heats up and glows just before being swallowed by the black hole.

1993: Cygnus Loop

The blue and red streaks in this image are material that was sent flying into space 15,000 years ago when a star in the constellation Cygnus exploded as a supernova. The blue loop left the star after the red one did, and is still catching up. Where they’re crossing, the blue gas (oxygen) heats the red gas (sulfur) so it glows brightly.

1994: A Crystal-Clear Spiral Galaxy

On December 2, 1993, the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour began a 12-day mission to correct a flaw in Hubble’s vision. This image of the Whirlpool Galaxy celebrated the success of Servicing Mission One, as it was called, by showing off Hubble’s new view. Compare this image against the pre–servicing mission pic of the same galaxy.

1995: The Pillars of Creation

A small cluster of stars burn hot and bright, just off the top edge of this image. Their high-energy light blows away the gas and dust enveloping the still-forming stars of this stellar nursery, which are exposed as small fingers and teardrops at the edges of the great pillars of gas. Even two decades later, the phrase “pillars of creation” brings this image immediately to mind for those of us who might have then been high-school students dreaming of futures as astronomers.

1996: The Hubble Deep Field

Remember when Robert Williams, the then-director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (that’s the folks who oversee Hubble) used a good chunk of his own observing time to point at a seemingly blank patch of sky for 10 days straight? And an unfathomably huge number of galaxies revealed themselves? And changed astronomers’ understanding of how the early universe worked? Wasn’t that awesome? Sometimes the big gamble pays off.

1997: Spectrum Of A Black Hole

This psychedelic smudge is actually evidence of a black hole at the center of the galaxy M84. It was made with Hubble’s spectrograph, which shows the velocity of the material it images. It reveals those velocities along just one line, determined by how astronomers position the telescope. The squiggle halfway down means that stars are spinning very quickly around the galaxy’s center. And from that, astronomers could tell the black hole at the center of M84 is 300 million times as massive as the sun.

1998: A Rosy Ring of Stars

The bright, colorful ring here is made of hot clumps of star-forming gas in the galaxy NGC 4314. The picture is a close-up of the galaxy’s center, but further out, wispy spiral arms are funneling dust and gas toward the ring. The ring’s stronger gravity traps the gas and dust and squashes it into globs so dense they collapse into stars.

1999: Mars Has Its Close-Up

In the spring of 1999, Mars came closer to Earth than it had since Hubble’s launch, and the space telescope snapped plenty of pictures of the Red Planet. This one shows the water-ice polar cap of Mars’s northern hemisphere, light clouds of early morning along the left limb, and a cyclone churning near the pole. The landing site of the Mars Pathfinder rover, which had bounced onto the planet’s surface two years earlier, is at the center of the image—at the bottom of the big dark patch just below the icy north pole.

2000: The Eskimo Nebula

On November 13, 1999, one of Hubble’s gyroscopes failed. The gyros are six-inch-long cylinders that spin at 19,200 RPM, suspended in fluid. They detect and correct for tiny movements in the spacecraft, allowing Hubble to stare steadily at a single spot and take clear pictures. A single gyro failing isn’t a big deal—Hubble has six and only needs three to be operational at any moment—but the one that stopped spinning on that November day was the fourth one to break, and it sent Hubble into automatic shutdown. To fix the telescope, NASA fast-tracked a servicing mission it had been planning since the third gyro failure. A crew of astronauts went up in late December aboard the shuttle Discovery. They replaced all six gyroscopes, and Hubble resumed observing on January 10, 2000. This is the first picture it took.

2001: A Warped Galaxy

Usually galaxies are disks that lie pretty much flat. (Except the ones that are just unstructured globs of stars, but that’s a different story.) This galaxy boasts a very prominent curve. That’s because it recently collided with another, smaller galaxy that it’s in the process of subsuming into its belly, probably cackling “bwa-ha-ha” as it does so.

2002: The Tadpole

The name is apt: This is definitely a galaxy that looks like a tadpole. It had a run-in with the galaxy visible just behind it, and when galaxies collide (see previous) crazy things happen to them. Eventually, the long tail will break off entirely and become a mini galaxy that orbits the bigger ones.

2003: A Flare In Process

The star at the center of this picture—an obscure red one at the outer edge of the Milky Way—was, for a few days in 2002, the brightest star in the galaxy. Its crazy outburst didn’t last long, but the light the star created spent the next year reflecting off different parts of the dust cloud surrounding it—which made for some amazing pictures, like this one taken in October 2002.

2004: The Helix Nebula

Before this image, astronomers thought this nebula—gas and dust expelled from the star dying at its center—was donut-shaped. But with this 4.5-hour Hubble exposure and some other pictures taken from telescopes on the ground, they concluded it’s actually two disks of material sitting perpendicular to each other. And the disks may have been made by two stars instead of one. Even the most familiar objects in the sky have their secrets.

2005: Whirlpool

Most of Hubble’s iconic images—including this one, of the nearby Whirlpool galaxy—were taken by its Advanced Camera for Surveys, or ACS. Hubble has six instruments on board, each optimized for taking different sorts of measurements. The ACS takes sharp images with a wide field of view, which has made it the pretty-picture workhorse since it was installed during a servicing mission in 2002. After a repair during the 2009 servicing mission, ACS is still going strong.

2006: The Orion Nebula, Revisited

Hubble joined forces with a Chilean telescope to create this shot, which is built from nearly a dozen separate pictures taken at different wavelengths—and which puts to shame the faint smudge visible with a backyard telescope.

2007: Starbirth

The bright blue stars at the center of this image are burning away the gas and dust they were born from, creating a lovely cocoon of material. If that scene sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a common one among Hubble targets. Gas and dust may not sound as thrilling as stars and galaxies, but they reflect and illuminate the objects of the heavens, creating some of space’s most memorable vistas.

2008: Galaxy Collision

Hubble caught these two galaxies mid-collision. One, stretched out in a line. The other, a ring-shaped shockwave of stars. Neither will ever be the same.

2009: Saturn And Four Of Its Moons

Titan—Saturn’s largest moon—is just at the top of the image, casting a shadow near Saturn’s north pole. From our view here on Earth, moons only cross in front of the planet when the rings lie in a nearly flat plane. The alignment, called a ring-plane crossing, happens every 14 or 15 years. Hubble captured a ring-plane crossing in 1995, and this one in 2009. The next will be in 2025—will Hubble still be around then? If not, perhaps its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, will see it.

2010: Twenty-Year Spectacular

Hubble’s twentieth anniversary came a year after a dramatic servicing mission in May 2009 that replaced a few of its detectors and repaired others. Astronauts also replaced gyroscopes, computers, and other support equipment on the telescope. Since the space shuttle was to be retired in 2011, astronomers knew this would be the last upgrade Hubble would get—no other spacecraft could carry astronauts high enough. The twentieth-anniversary image is a detail shot of gas and stars in the Carina Nebula, which Hubble had imaged in truly stunning glory a few years earlier.

2011: By Any Other Name

UGC 1810 and UGC 1813 are a pair of interacting galaxies whose gravitational forces have stretched one another out across the sky. And hey, they look like a rose.

2012: A Dying Star

Stars spend most of their lifetimes as stable, solitary, shining orbs. But at their births, as they form from gas and dust, and at their deaths, as they return that gas and dust to into space, they create scenes that Hubble can’t resist photographing. This one is of a star not unlike our sun, in its death throes. Five billion years from now our own sun may be as lovely.

2013: Horsehead Nebula

In optical light, the Horsehead appears as a dark shadow against a pinkish glow. But this image was taken at longer wavelengths: the infrared, which is invisible to the human eye. (It was colorized after the fact to be visible to the human eye.) The longer infrared wavelengths slide through the dense gas where optical cannot, creating a different, more revealing image.

2014: Deep Look At A Galaxy Cluster

Hubble stared for 67 hours to create the deepest galaxy-cluster image ever taken. The big, bright foreground galaxies are bound together by their gravity, gravity that warps the light from the 3,000 background galaxies like a lens. Two other space telescopes flying at the time—Chandra, which takes pictures at x-ray wavelengths, and Spitzer, which catches longer-wavelength infrared glimpses—also turned to look at this patch of sky, creating picture of the cluster that’s nearly complete across the wavelengths of light.

2024: The Official 25th-Anniversary Image

Bright, hot, young stars light up the gas around them, the gas from which they were born (yup, it’s that old Hubble theme). Even after a quarter century spent flying around the Earth at about 18,000 MPH, plunging from glaring sunlight to near-total darkness every 50 minutes, and circling the Earth more than 135,000 times, the old telescope still churns out stunners.

How To Make The Most Of Usb

Long ago, the best tool for slapping two pieces of technology together was the mighty Roll of Duct Tape. It brought us such wonders as Flashlight Taped to Gun, Cardboard Taped to Broken Car Window, and even the ever-popular Command Module Carbon Dioxide Filter Taped to Lunar Module Receptor.

In these more enlightened days, the USB drive has risen as the primary mode of integrating two forms of disparate hardware. Unfortunately, Android devices come equipped with the far less-ubiquitous micro USB drive, so all that USB-ready technology lies just outside of reach. Except it’s not, really.

Even though it’s not being marketed or sold by any major phone manufacturers, a tiny little cable called the USB On-The-Go adapter can let you have a lot of USB-related fun with your Android device.

What is this thing?

USB On-The-Go is really just a micro USB cable that runs out to a female USB port. You plug it into your Android device, and it effectively gives your device a USB port. Now you can use a slew of different gadgets that weren’t necessarily designed with Android interface in mind. 

So, does it work on just about everything?

No, unfortunately. Compatibility is actually extremely hit-and-miss, because not a lot of Android device designers were really working with USB functionality in mind. Figuring out whether devices work with USB OTG has been a matter of trial and error, with some devices only having partial functionality and others taking to it like ducks to water. It seems like Samsung has the most USB capability overall so far.

Although Android devices have been USB-host-mode ready since Android 3.1, the problem is that hardware manufacturers have to enable that feature. If they don’t, then your device will just be mystified if you try to plug a USB drive into it.

How do I make it… do things?

Time to break out the hyperactive, tinkering little kid inside you, because there aren’t really any established instructions or best practices for USB OTG. You might as well just grab one and see what works with your device, but so far we’ve discovered some pretty awesome uses.

Card reader

It’s a little bit odd that even the most compatible devices would have this functionality, but it seems like you can connect a mouse on most of them and have a pointer materialize on your screen. Use it just like you would on your computer. Doesn’t seem terribly practical, but it’s definitely interesting. Maybe you could use it to play old-school first-person shooters like Wolfenstein 3D or DOOM.

Speaking of games…

Game Controllers

With emulators and roms becoming increasingly popular, one of the only downsides to playing them on your phone has been the inherent clumsiness of using a touch screen to mimick something as complex and alien as the N64 controller. I mean, who designed that thing?

Although your Android device’s power output isn’t stout enough to keep an unpowered hard drive operational, you can use a plug-in-the-wall powered hard drive to move some files around. Great if you’ve maxed out your phone’s hard drive and want to make some more room.

Because your Android powers whatever device it’s connected to, a portable (not powered) hard drive won’t work. However, a powered hard drive will, since it relies on energy from an external source. With the hard drive connected, you can read, write, and transfer any stored files.

Flash drives

Although this won’t work for some devices, you can plug a thumb drive in and most compatible Android devices treat a USB thumbdrive just like your computer does. Check some files on the go or tuck others away for safekeeping.

USB-to-Ethernet adapters

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