'Death bus' delivers execution to your door
13th Feb 2009 | 11:49
Plus: US army unleash EMP grenade, and more, in Weird Tech
China has adopted a controversial new method of eliminating crime, provoking outrage from human rights groups and fresh claims of organ harvesting in the process. The country is slowly phasing out public executions by firing squad in favour of lethal injections - performed in its 40 'mobile execution chambers', or 'death buses'.
According to the bus-maker - a popular Chinese ambulance manufacturer - the vehicles are a civilised alternative to the firing squad. Convicts are strapped to a power-sliding stretcher that extends from the rear of the bus, while the execution is streamed live to officials to ensure it's being done legally.
Critics have accused the government of secretly harvesting the organs to the West, claiming they can be removed both secretly and more effectively than when a prisoner is shot.
Sixty-eight different crimes - over half of non-violent offences such as tax evasion and drug smuggling - are punishable by death in China. Those buses will be getting around.
Electro-magnetic pulse grenade
In other news, no longer just the remit of Star Wars, it seems soldiers in the US army could soon find themselves armed with non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) grenades clipped to their belts. That's according to Colonel Laurie Buckhout, Chief of the newly-formed Electronic Warfare Division, who this week confirmed that the EMP grenade tech is indeed out there.
Previously, the only way to generate an EMP powerful enough to disable electronics has been via a jammer - flawed in its tendency to also interfere with legitimate radio signals - or the detonation of a nuclear weapon.
Using the sci-fi grenade tech, specially trained soldiers will allegedly be able to adopt a less "heavy"-handed approach, allowing for a new wave of tactical "electronic attack" on the ground, reports DefenseTech.
An odd week for gadgets, Wednesday saw the introduction of a vibrating glove for pianists - watch it, that's pianists - courtesy of Georgia Tech researchers. Aimed as a helping hand for budding young musicians, the idea is to "fuse music with muscle memory to teach pianists their craft".
Of course, this week also gave us the Efficient Toothpaste Tube - a "revolution in the dispensing of tube-based products" (for all you 'squeeze-it-from-the-end' pirates… you know who you are).
Most helpful of all was the GenShock, a high-tech shock-absorber for your car that converts the motion of hitting a bump in the road into energy. It could improve fuel efficiency by up to 10 per cent.
When you get your car washed, you probably shouldn't wear a scarf near the revolving bits. Car wash employee Stephanie Carpluk - no, really - learned that lesson the hard way, after her scarf became caught in a spinning scrubber brush and began to choke her.
Fortunately, a near-by Southampton man noticed the commotion and rushed to her aid. John O'Leary leaped out of his car and performed a dramatic rescue with a pocket knife, just as Carpluk was losing consciousness. He then administered CPR until she began breathing again.
Who'd have thought such fun-looking car-wash tech was so dangerous…