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Australian researchers set new world record in solar-energy efficiency

December 8, 2014

Spectrum splitting prototype (credit: UNSW)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) solar researchers have converted more than 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, “the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,” UNSW Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Professor Martin Green said.

“We used commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are readily accessible to the solar… read more

Possible breakthrough using graphene for solar cells

Graphene retains its exceptional conductivity and transparency when coated with silicon film
October 14, 2013

graphene_on_glass_substrate

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics have shown that graphene retains its impressive set of properties when it is coated with a thin silicon film.

These findings may allow for entirely new possibilities to use graphene in thin-film photovoltaics.

Graphene has extreme conductivity and is completely transparent while being inexpensive and nontoxic. This would makes it a perfect candidate material… read more

Most distant galaxy discovered: 30 billion light years away

October 24, 2013

Galaxy_Large_Tilvi

The most distant spectroscopically confirmed galaxy ever found — one created at about 700 million years after the Big Bang — has been detected by astronomers at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin

“It’s exciting to know we’re the first people in the world to see this,” said Vithal Tilvi, a Texas A&M postdoctoral research associate and… read more

‘Data smashing’ could automate discovery, untouched by human hands

October 28, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

From recognizing speech to identifying unusual stars, new discoveries often begin with comparison of data streams to find connections and spot outliers. But simply feeding raw data into a data-analysis algorithm is unlikely to produce meaningful results, say the authors of a new Cornell study.

That’s because most data comparison algorithms today have one major weakness: somewhere, they rely on a human expert to specify what aspects of the… read more

New microbatteries a boost for electronics

April 19, 2013

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) cross-section of the interdigitated electrodes spanning two<br />
periods. The interdigitated electrodes alternate between anode and cathode. The insets show the magnified electrodes with the nickel scaffold coated<br />
with nickel–tin on the left and lithiated manganese oxide on the right. Scale bars, 50mm and 1mm in the insets. (Credit: Nature Communications)

New microbatteries developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, out-power even the best supercapacitors and could drive new applications in radio communications and compact electronics.

“This is a whole new way to think about batteries,”  said William P. King, the Bliss Professor of mechanical science and engineering. “A battery can [now] deliver far more power than anybody ever thought.… read more

Scientists discover how brain cells age

September 13, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Newcastle University researchers say they have discovered how neurons age.

Experts previously identified the molecular pathway that reacts to cell damage and stems the cell’s ability to divide, known as cell senescence. However, in cells that do not have this ability to divide, such as neurons in the brain and elsewhere, little was understood of the aging process.

Now scientists at Newcastle University, led by Professorread more

How to connect your home appliances to the Internet of Things

Is it really smart to connect smart grids to the Internet?
November 13, 2012

sigfox

French startup SigFox thinks it can help usher in a second mobile Internet boom by connecting millions of low-power sensors worldwide to the Internet, MIT Technology Review reports.

SigFox is focused on connecting cheap sensors and “dumb” home appliances to the Internet. The goal is to make all kinds of appliances and infrastructure, from power grids to microwave ovens, smarter by letting them share data.… read more

Waterloo researchers create ‘world’s largest functioning model of the brain’

November 30, 2012

Serial working memory task (from movie)

A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo have built what the claim is the world’s largest simulation of a functioning brain.

The purpose is to help scientists understand how the complex activity of the brain gives rise to the complex behavior exhibited by animals, including humans.

The model is called Spaun (Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network). It consists of 2.5… read more

Mayo Clinic researchers extend lifespan by up to 35 percent in mice

February 3, 2016

Aged mice with and without senescent cell clearance (credit: Mayo Clinic)

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have discovered that senescent cells — cells that no longer divide and accumulate with age — shorten lifespan by as much as 35 percent in normal mice.

Removing these aging cells delays tumor formation, preserves tissue and organ function, and extends lifespan without observed adverse effects, the researchers found, writing Feb. 3 in Nature.

“Cellular senescence is a biological mechanism that functions as… read more

Why Google’s self-driving car may save lives — if all cars are computer-driven

May 11, 2012

Google_autonomous_vehicle

The technology behind Google’s self-driving car represents a potential leap forward in auto safety.

More than 30,000 people are killed each year in crashes despite huge advances in auto safety. The overwhelming majority of those crashes are caused by human-driver error.

Computer driven cars could reduce traffic deaths by a very significant degree, said David Champion, head of auto testing at Consumer Reports, but only if all cars are… read more

How teachers’ myths about the brain are hampering teaching

October 17, 2014

Photographs of the left and right midsagittal sections of Einstein’s brain with original labels (Falk et al., 2013), reproduced here with permission from the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, MD. The red circles indicate two breaches on each<br />
hemisphere of Einstein’s corpus callosum that have different shapes, which may have been introduced when the two hemispheres were<br />
separated in 1955.

Teachers in the UK, Holland, Turkey, Greece and China were presented with seven “neuromyths” and asked whether they believe them to be true.

A quarter or more of teachers in the UK and Turkey believe a student’s brain would shrink if they drank less than six to eight glasses of water a day, while around half or more of those surveyed believe a student’s brain is only 10 per… read more

Future farming to be based on robots and big data

March 9, 2015

QUT's AgBot II (credit: QUT)

The farm of the future will involve multiple lightweight, small, autonomous, energy-efficient machines (AgBots) operating collectively to weed, fertilize and control pest and diseases, while collecting vasts amount of data to enable better management decision making,” according to Queensland University of Technology (QUT) robotics Professor Tristan Perez.

“We are starting to see automation in agriculture for single processes such as animal and crop drone… read more

Panetta warns of dire threat of cyberattack on US

October 12, 2012

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned Thursday that the United States was facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor” and was increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who could dismantle the nation’s power grid, transportation system, financial networks and government, The New York Times reports.

He said he was reacting to increasing aggressiveness… read more

Wi-Fi signal used to track moving humans — even behind walls

July 3, 2013

(credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT

‘Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.are developing a system called “Wi-Vi” that transmits a low-power Wi-Fi signal and uses its reflections to track moving humans — even if they are in closed rooms or hiding behind a wall.

How it works

The researchers borrowed a technique called inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR), which has been… read more

New brain gene gives us edge over apes

November 15, 2012

human_and_ape

An international team led by the University of Edinburgh has discovered a new gene called miR-941 that helps explain how humans evolved evolved from apes by playing a crucial role in human brain development, and may shed light on how we learned to use tools and language.

The researchers say it is the first time that a new gene — carried only by humans and not by apes —… read more

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