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Acoustic ‘cloaking device’ shields objects from sound

June 28, 2011

Acoustic Cloak

Scientists at Duke University have developed a cloaking device using metamaterials that makes objects invisible to sound waves.

The device uses stacked sheets of plastic with regular arrays of holes through them. The exact size and placement of the holes on each sheet, and the spacing between the sheets, has a predictable effect on incoming sound waves.

When placed on a flat surface, the stack redirects the waves such… read more

Acoustic sensors make surfaces interactive

November 29, 2006

Tai-Chi (Tangible Acoustic Interfaces for Computer-Human Interaction), a series of acoustic sensors that turn any surface into a touch-sensitive computer interface, has been developed by European researchers.

Two or more sensors are attached around the edges of the surface. These pinpoint the position of a finger, or another touching object, by tracking minute vibrations. This allows them to create a virtual touchpad, or keyboard, on any table or wall.

Acoustic tweezers manipulate cellular-scale objects with ultrasound

July 2, 2012

A miniaturized ultrasonic device capable of capturing and moving single cells and tiny living creatures (credit: Xiaoyun Ding, Sz-Chin Steven Lin, Stephen J. Benkovic, and Tony Jun Huang - Penn State)

A team of bioengineers and biochemists from Penn State University has demonstrated a device about the size of a dime that is capable of manipulating objects, including living materials such as blood cells and entire small organisms, using sound waves.

The device, called acoustic tweezers, is the first technology capable of touchlessly trapping and manipulating Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), a one millimeter long roundworm that… read more

Acrobatic space rovers to explore moons and asteroids

An autonomous system for exploring the solar system's smaller members, such as moons and asteroids, could bring us closer to a human mission to Mars
January 2, 2013

probos surveyer2

Stanford researchers in collaboration with NASA JPL and MIT have designed a robotic platform that involves a mother spacecraft deploying one or several spiked, roughly spherical rovers to the Martian moon Phobos.

Measuring about half a meter wide, each rover would hop, tumble and bound across the cratered, lopsided moon, relaying information about its origins, as well as its soil and other surface materials.

Developed by… read more

Across the Megaverse

January 15, 2006

In Leonard Susskind’s new book, “The Cosmic Landscape,” he says the latest version of string theory (now rechristened M-theory) yields a gargantuan number of models: about 10 to the 500th power — the “megaverse.”

Each potential model, he suggests, corresponds to an actual place –another universe as real as our own.

Susskind eagerly embraces the megaverse interpretation because it offers a way to blow right through the intelligent… read more

ACT confirms clinical trial participant showed improvement in vision from 20/400 to 20/40 following treatment

May 21, 2013

Intermediate age-related macular degeneration (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (ACT) has confirmed that the vision of a patient enrolled in a clinical investigation of the company’s retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) has improved from 20/400 to 20/40 following treatment.

ACT is currently enrolling patients in three clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe for treatment of Stargardt’s macular dystrophy (SMD) and dry age-related… read more

Activating neurons with quantum dots

February 9, 2012


By harnessing quantum dots (tiny light-emitting semiconductor particles a few nanometers across), researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have developed a new, more targeted way to stimulate neurons in the brain.

Being able to switch neurons on and off and monitor how they communicate with one another is crucial for understanding and, ultimately, treating a host of brain disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and… read more

‘Active clothing’ for soft robots

Now anything can be a soft robot with sensory skin
September 26, 2014

Sensor threads composed of eGaIn-filled hyperelastic silicone tubing, attached to fabric via couching and wrapped around a foam block (Michelle Yuen et al.)

Purdue University researchers are developing a robotic fabric that moves and contracts and is embedded with sensors, an approach that could bring “active clothing” and a new class of soft robots.

Such an elastic technology could make possible robots that have sensory skin, stretchable robotic garments that people might wear for added strength and endurance, “g-suits” for pilots or astronauts to counteract the effects of acceleration, and… read more

Active invisibility cloaks could work at many wavelengths

August 19, 2009

Active cloaking devices can use destructive interference, similar to noise-cancelling headphones, to render invisible areas up to 10 times larger than the wavelength of light being disguised and over large regions of space, University of Utah researchers have found.

The researchers predict that engineers will be able to use their method to create active invisibility cloaks that could shield submarines from sonar, planes from radar, and buildings from earthquakes.

‘Active’ surfaces that control fluids or particles

Self-cleaning solar cells in the desert is one application
August 5, 2014

Photo shows a water droplet sitting on a ferrofluid-impregnated surface, which has cloaked the droplet with a very thin layer.

Imagine a treated surface that that can actively control how fluids or particles move across it.

That’s what researchers at MIT and in Saudi Arabia have developed, using a simple microtextured surface, with bumps or ridges just a few micrometers across.

They impregnated the surface with a fluid that can be manipulated — for example, an oil infused with tiny magnetic particles, or ferrofluid, which can… read more

Activity discovered at Yellowstone supervolcano

March 16, 2007

One of the largest supervolcanoes in the world lies beneath Yellowstone National Park, and activity has been increasing lately.

Acute stress leaves epigenetic marks on the hippocampus

November 25, 2009

A single 30-minute episode of acute stress causes histone methylation (modification of certain amino acids), in the rat hippocampus, causing changes in expression of genes (turning them on or off) that are packaged by the histones, Rockefeller University researchers have found.

The discovery of such epigenetic regulation of genes in the brain is helping change the way scientists think about psychiatric disorders and could open new avenues to treatment.

Adafruit to teach electronics through puppets in new kids’ show

December 28, 2012



Adafruit, the kit-based electronics retailer and promoter of hobbyist engineering, is aiming to teach electronics to a younger demographic, using puppets, says Wired.

Their new online show, titled Circuit Playground, will teach the essentials of electronics and circuitry to children through kid-friendly dolls.

As a learning companion, Adafruit has also recently produced the coloring book E is for Electronics, and will carry … read more

Adaptable Polymer Inspired by Sea Cucumbers

March 7, 2008

Case Western University used a nanocomposite material inspired by sea cucumbers to make a biopolymer that switches rapidly between rigid and flexible states.

The new material could be used to design implantable electrodes that don’t cause the scarring that stiff and brittle metal electrodes cause, decreasing the electrode’s recording ability.

Adapting telescope mirror technology to capture solar energy

July 6, 2012


University of Arizona (UA) researchers are continuing to improve groundbreaking technology to produce solar electricity at a price competitive with non-renewable energy sources.

A prototype of the “tracker” at the university has a house-sized frame of crisscrossing steel tubes, mounted onto a swiveling post in the concrete bottom of an empty swimming pool.

The tracker  supports two curved, highly reflective glass mirrors, each measuring 10 feet… read more

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