science + technology news

A bucket-full of this material can absorb all the oxygen in a room

The stored oxygen can be easily released again whenever and wherever needed
October 1, 2014

This exotic crystalline material changes color when absorbing or releasing oxygen. Crystals are black when saturated with oxygen and pink when the oxygen has been released. (Credit: University of Southern Denmark)

A new crystalline material absorbs 160 times more oxygen than in the air around you — only a spoonful bucket-full (10 liters) of it is enough to suck up all the oxygen in a room, according to its developer, Professor Christine McKenzie in the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Southern Denmark.

A few grains of this material might absorb enough oxygen from the… read more

A building block for optical quantum networks

February 8, 2013

Quantum device (credit: New Journal of Physics)

Another approach to creating optical quantum networks has been developed by Cal Tech, HP, and University of Washington researchers. (See The quantum internet,)

In an optical quantum network, information is carried between points by photons. It could enable quantum computers that are millions of times faster at solving certain problems than what we are used to today.

This new device, which combines a single… read more

A Business Out of Thin Air

August 4, 2003

HoloTouch has developed technology that allows users to operate equipment simply by passing a finger through a holographic image.

The system uses lasers and infrared sensors to create images that can be manipulated in the air.

A camera that peers around corners

March 22, 2012


MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a camera that can see around corners.

The system can produced recognizable 3-D images of a wooden figurine and of foam cutouts outside their camera’s line of sight.

The research could ultimately lead to imaging systems that allow emergency responders to evaluate dangerous environments or vehicle navigation systems that can negotiate blind turns, among other applications.

The principle behind the… read more

A cancer gene therapy activated by a pill

March 18, 2013


A unique new cancer treatment uses gene therapy to induce a cancer-fighting immune response whose intensity can then be controlled with a pill. The combination could help tailor treatment to a patient’s individual response, MIT Technology Review reports.

The treatment uses the body’s own cells or tumor cells to produce extra copies of a naturally occurring hormone-like molecule called IL-12, which regulates anticancer immune responses. Last week,… read more

A carbon-nanotube trap for ultra-sensitive virus detection and identification

Could improve detection of viruses and speed the process of identifying newly emerging viruses to head off unpredictable outbreaks
October 7, 2016

Scanning electron microscope image (scale bar, 200 nm) of the H5N2 avian influenza virus (purple) trapped inside the aligned carbon nanotubes. (credit: Penn State University)

Penn State researchers have developed a new portable microdevice that uses a forest-like array of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes to selectively trap and concentrate viruses by their size. It could improve detection of viruses and speed the process of identifying newly emerging viruses.

The research, by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at Penn State, was published in an open-access paper in the October 7, 2016 edition of the… read more

A cardboard bike

October 18, 2012


Working from his garden shed, Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni has invented a $20 cardboard bike, says The Telegraph.

The solid tires are made of reconstituted rubber from old car tires and some proprietary materials have been added for water protection and other purposes.

“This is a real game changer,” said Nimrod Elmish, Gafni’s business partner. ”It changes … the way products are manufactured and shipped, it causes factories to… read more

A caring robot with ‘emotion’ and memory

February 9, 2015

robot and elderly

Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have developed a prototype of a social robot that supports independent living for the elderly, working in partnership with their relatives or carers.

Farshid Amirabdollahian, a senior lecturer in Adaptive Systems at the university, led a team of nine partner institutions from five European countries as part of the €4,825,492 project called ACCOMPANY (Acceptable Robotics Companions for Ageing Years).

“This… read more

A case of mistaken identity crisis

June 10, 2005

People afflicted with multiple personalities reveal that the idea of the self is a fiction.

The illusion of self is merely a by-product of the brain’s organizational sophistication.

Benjamin Libet conducted an experiment in which he found that the brain activity began about half a second before the person was aware of deciding to act. The conscious decision came far too late to be the cause of the… read more

A Casimir chip that exploits the vacuum energy

July 31, 2012

Casimir forces on parallel plates (credit: Emok/Wikipedia Commons)

University of Florida researchers have have developed a way to keep objects flat enough to measure the strange Casimir force, which pushes two parallel conducting plates together when they are just a few dozen nanometers apart,  Technology Review Physics arXiv Blog reports.

They carved a single device out of silicon that is capable of measuring the Casimir force between a pair of parallel silicon beams, the first on-chip… read more

A Catalyst for Cheaper Fuel Cells

April 3, 2009

Researchers at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) in Quebec have dramatically increased the performance of an iron-based catalyst.

Their material produces 99 amps per cubic centimeter at 0.8 volts, a key measurement of catalytic activity. That is 35 times better than the best nonprecious metal catalyst so far, and close to the Department of Energy’s goal for fuel-cell catalysts: 130 amps per cubic centimeter.

A Cautionary Tale for a New Age of Surveillance

October 8, 2001

It’s being proposed as a solution for terrorism. But once thousands of cameras from hundreds of separate closed circuit TV systems are able to feed their digital images to a central monitoring station, and the images can be analyzed with face- and behavioral-recognition software to identify unusual patterns, then the possibilities of the Panopticon (see-all surveillance system) will suddenly become very real.
The creation of a surveillance society in Britain,… read more

A cell becomes a laser

June 13, 2011

This microscope image shows green laser light shining from a single biological cell (credit: Malte Gather).

The world’s first biological laser has been developed by physicists Malte Gather and Seok-Hyun Yun of Harvard Medical School. Built into a single cell, the laser might one day be used for light-based therapeutics, perhaps killing cancer cells deep inside the body.

The biolaser uses a green fluorescent protein (GFP). The researchers used cells derived from a human kidney, adding the DNA that codes for GFP. The… read more

A centenary celebration of the life and work of Alan Turing

June 21, 2012

Google recognizes Alan Turing's 100th birthday: June 23, 2012

June 23, 2012, is the Centenary of Alan Turing’s birth in London.

During his relatively brief life, Turing made a unique impact on the history of computing, computer science, artificial intelligence, developmental biology, and the mathematical theory of computability.

A number of major events are taking place throughout the year in celebration of Turing’s life and scientific impact. Most of these will be linked… read more

A Central Nervous System for Earth: HP’s Ambitious Sensor Network

November 20, 2009

HP Labs has announced a project that aims to be a “Central Nervous System for the Earth” (CeNSE): a R&D program to build a planetwide sensing network, using billions of tiny accelerometers that detect motion and vibrations, and later, ones for light, temperature, barometric pressure, airflow and humidity.

The nodes could be stuck to bridges and buildings to warn of structural strains or weather conditions and along roadsides to… read more

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