April 30, 2009
Stephen Wolfram’s video presentation of Wolfram|Alpha at Harvard Law School is now available.
The quest to harness a broader spectrum of sunlight’s energy to produce electricity has taken a radically new turn, with the proposal of a “solar energy funnel” that takes advantage of materials under elastic strain.
An MIT research team has published a detailed analysis of all the factors that could limit the efficiency of an “artificial leaf” — a small device that, when placed in a container of water and exposed to sunlight, would produce bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen for storing energy.
The new analysis lays out a roadmap for a research program to improve the efficiency of these systems, and… read more
The U.S. Army has released new footage of the BigDog robot–a sophisticated, four-legged “pack-bot” designed to carry 340-pound payloads across all kinds of terrain–up or down hills, through ice, sand, snow, and dirt–by monitoring sensors in its legs and adjusting its posture accordingly.
For the first time, physicists have convincingly demonstrated that physically separated particles in solid-state devices can be quantum-mechanically entangled.
The experiment, which used electrons in a superconductor in place of photons in an optical system, forming entangled “Cooper pairs” over a micron or so, was conducted by a team of physicists from France, Germany and Spain.
This differs from most existing sequencing methods, which read DNA in short snippets that are later stitched together by software. The new system will, at first, complement existing methods, but it could eventually offer cheaper and faster sequencing than… read more
University of Utah physicists have developed small devices that turn heat into sound and then into electricity. The technology holds promise for changing waste heat into electricity, harnessing solar energy and cooling computers and radars.
Imagine a clock that will keep perfect time forever, even after the heat-death of the universe — a four-dimensional “space-time crystal” with periodic structure in time as well as space.
With such a 4D crystal, scientists would have a new and more effective way to study how complex physical properties and behaviors emerge from the collective interactions of large numbers of individual particles, the “many-body problem” of physics. A space-time crystal… read more
The age of personalized medicine is on the way. Increasingly, experts say, therapies will be tailored for patients based on their genetic makeup or other medical measurements. That will allow people to obtain drugs that would work best for them and avoid serious side effects.
If it works as promised, DNA bar coding will assist in the urgent task of cataloging unknown species before their ranks are decimated by extinction.
The technique depends on analyzing part of just one gene, the same gene in all cases, for every species.
If and when a DNA bar code database of all terrestrial plant and animal species is established, a field biologist could take a tiny… read more
An international team, led by researchers at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, has for the first time measured the radius of a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy — the closest distance at which matter can approach before being irretrievably pulled into the black hole.
Black holes that can be billions of times more massive than our sun may reside at the heart of most galaxies.… read more
University of California, Santa Barbara researchers, using clues gleaned from marine sponges, have developed a method of synthesizing semiconducting materials with useful structures and novel electronic properties.
The first applications could be ways to make materials for more powerful batteries and highly efficient solar cells at a lower price.
Researchers at Edinburgh University are developing spray-on computers using tiny semiconductor specks the size of a grain of sand that can sense, compute and communicate wirelessly.
They plan to spray the devices on the chests of coronary patients to record a patient’s health and transmit information back to a hospital computer, eliminating the need to lug a large machine around or hospital visits.