science + technology news

A flying jellyfish-like machine

A replacement for Amazon's octocopters?
December 3, 2013

Flying jellyfish (credit: L. Ristroph/NYU)

New York University researchers have built a small vehicle whose flying motion resembles the movements of a jellyfish or moth — a new method of flight that could enable miniaturized future robots for surveillance, search-and-rescue, and monitoring of the atmosphere and traffic.

Many approaches to building small aerial robots try to mimic the flight of insects such as fruit flies. The problem, says Leif Ristroph of NYU, is that… read more

A ‘fountain of youth’ for stem cells?

December 29, 2009

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong and MIT are exploring ways to successfully keep stem cells “forever young” during implantation by slowing their growth, differentiation and proliferation.

A fourth branch of cellular organisms?

March 28, 2011

Researchers using DNA analysis have shown that there may be at least one hidden domain of life, a fourth branch of cellular organisms, says Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis, and colleagues.

The researchers analyzed metagenomic data and used them to search the Global Ocean Sampling (GOS) Expedition dataset for novel lineages in three gene families commonly used in phylogenetic studies: trees that use small subunit… read more

A free database of the entire Web may spawn the next Google

January 24, 2013


A nonprofit called Common Crawl is now using its own Web crawler and making a giant copy of the Web that it makes accessible to anyone.

The organization offers up over five billion Web pages, available for free so that researchers and entrepreneurs can try things otherwise possible only for those with access to resources on the scale of Google’s, MIT Technology Review reports.… read more

A Free Mesh Network for San Francisco

August 17, 2007

Meraki Networks, a wireless mesh-network company is bypassing San Francisco city hall, giving away some 200 wireless routers to city residents in the past couple of months.

The routers have been accessed by more than 6,000 city residents who can pick up the Wi-Fi signal. Meraki is now offering to expand the program to give away a few thousand routers, thereby building a free Wi-Fi mesh-network system from the… read more

A French autonomous car

January 13, 2012

Stahle robot driver

French researchers have developed a self-driving vehicle, IEEE Spectrum Automaton reports.

IFSTTAR, a French R&D organization, and the Embedded Electronic Systems Research Institute at ESIGELEC, an engineering school in Rouen, are developing autonomous vehicle technologies to help test automotive safety systems.

The researchers modified a Renault Grand Espace by adding a “robot driver” to  control the exact trajectory, speed, and behavior of the vehicle and compare… read more

A frog-like robot that crawls inside your abdomen

April 22, 2013

intra-abdominal robot on steel plate-1

Researchers at the University of Leeds are using the feet of tree frogs as a model for a tiny robot designed to crawl inside patients’ bodies during keyhole surgery.

It is designed to move across the internal abdominal wall of a patient, allowing surgeons to see what they are doing on a real-time video feed.

The tree frog’s feet provide a solution to the… read more

A fuel cell for the home

June 3, 2014

Production of the cell stacks at the Fraunhofer IKTS (credit: Fraunhofer IKTS)

A simple fuel cell for home use has been developed by Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Germany and heater manufacturer Vaillant.

With an output of one kilowatt, they cover the average current consumption for a four-person household.

Fuel cells convert natural gas directly into electrical energy. They are many times more efficient than are combustion engines, such as the car engine.… read more

A Full-Color Screen That Bends

June 8, 2009
(Mark Martinez)

Bendy organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays employing amorphous silicon processes and tools (used to make today’s flat-panel LCD screens) have been developed by Arizona State University researchers.

The development brings bendable color video displays closer to being commercial products.

A fully transparent solar concentrator for windows

August 26, 2014

Solar power with a view: MSU doctoral student Yimu Zhao holds up a transparent luminescent solar concentrator module. (Credit: Yimu Zhao)

Michigan State University researchers have developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to see through the window.

It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC) and can be used on buildings, cell phones, and any other device that has a clear surface.

Research in the production of energy from solar cells placed around… read more

A future cochlear implant with no exterior hardware required

February 13, 2014

(Credit: M. Yip et al.)

A new low-power signal-processing chip that could lead to a cochlear implant that does not require external devices has been developed by researchers at MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratory (MTL), together with physicians from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI).

The chip uses the natural microphone of the middle ear rather than a skull-mounted microphone. The implant would be… read more

A future for drones: automated killing

September 21, 2011

An exercise in autonomous robotics with two model-size planes could presage the future of the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans.

The automated, unpiloted planes worked on their own, with no human guidance, no hand on any control. After 20 minutes, one of the aircraft, carrying a computer that processed… read more

A Gaggle of Robot Movies

May 7, 2003

Robot movies coming out include The Matrix Reloaded (5/15), Terminator 3 (7/2), The Matrix Revolutions (11/11), and I, Robot (7/2/2004). Also next year, watch for Terminator 4, Robocop 4, StarTrek 11, Star Wars III, a Westworld remake, and yes, Tron 2.0.

A Garden of Robotic Delights

July 11, 2003

“The flowers in Cynthia Breazeal’s garden are like no blossoms you’ve ever seen. Fashioned of metal and silicon and embedded with electronic sensors, they are actually robots that react to light and body heat by bobbing, swaying, spinning and changing color….”

The Cyberflora Installation is now showing at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City, through January 2004.

A geek’s guide to China’s Silicon Valley

December 28, 2011


Zhongguancun (in Beijing), China’s closest equivalent to Silicon Valley, is host to electronics super malls, research centers, publicly-listed tech giants, and hundreds of startups, and is surrounded by top universities.

Other up-and-coming hubs include Hangzhou, Shanghai, Dalian, Chengdu, and Xi’an.

See also: China’s parallel online universe

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