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Large Hadron Collider scuttled by birdy baguette-bomber

November 6, 2009

A bird dropping a piece of bread onto outdoor machinery has been blamed for a technical fault at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), causing significant overheating in the system’s supercooled magnetic doughnut.

Obligatory “this is not an Onion story” statement – Ed.

See also: The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate

The Future of the Blog

February 27, 2006

Future blogging software will focus on more select and filtered readership, allowing people to read certain posts, and making it easier for people to incorporate more media and mobile capabilities.

Europe Turns to Coal Again, Raising Alarms on Climate

April 23, 2008

Driven by rising demand, record high oil and natural gas prices, concerns over energy security and an aversion to nuclear energy, European countries are expected to put into operation about 50 coal-fired plants over the next five years, plants that will be in use for the next five decades.

A Spy Machine of DARPA’s Dreams

May 21, 2003

Going beyond the controversial Total Information Awareness database project, DARPA is currently asking businesses and universities for research proposals for its LifeLog research project, intended to gather every bit of information about a person’s life and activities, index it, and make it searchable.

LifeLog would combine this information with information gleaned from a variety of sources: a GPS transmitter to keep tabs on where that person went, audio-visual sensors… read more

Signature of consciousness captured in brain scans

November 13, 2009

Reproducibility — the replication of similar neural patterns in the brain each time it becomes conscious of the same sensory input — gives us clues as to what consciousness is, Princeton University researchers have found in fMRI experiments.

The method could also be used in the future to tell if someone in a coma is conscious, or probe the consciousness of people under anesthesia.

Help NASA find life on Mars with MAPPER

October 4, 2011


NASA is asking people to help them discover how they could find life on Mars through a new citizen-science website called MAPPER.

MAPPER lets you work side-by-side with NASA scientists to explore the bottom of the lakes from the perspective of a DeepWorker submarine pilot.

NASA is collaborating with the Pavilion Lake Research Project, which has been using DeepWorker submersible vehicles to explore and… read more

A Fast and Simple Cocaine Detector

March 13, 2006

UCSB researchers have created sensors using specific DNA sequences, combined with off-the-shelf components, that can detect cocaine in the blood and other substances.

The sensor consists of a gold electrode covered in specific strands of DNA. When the target molecule, in this case cocaine, binds to the DNA, it changes conformation. That change increases current flow through the electrode, creating a measurable electronic signal that can be read by… read more

Riding D-Wave

April 25, 2008

In November of last year, with $60 million in funding, D-Wave demonstrated what it claimed was a 28-qubit adiabatic quantum computer, based on a design by MIT quantum computing scientist Seth Lloyd.

Now, the company’s scientists are attempting to demonstrate the fundamentally quantum-mechanical nature of their device.

Taking Technology to Extremes

June 5, 2003

Ever-lighter electronics, GPS satellites, and a network of programmers, tinkerers and trekkers have brought real-time connectedness to the world’s most remote places.

Recently, North Pole explorer Ben Saunders rigged up an iPaq digital assistant, pocket-size Global Positioning System locator, satellite phone, and digital camera to remotely update his Web site,

Andy Grove’s Prescription for Health Care

November 19, 2009

Andrew S. Grove, the 73-year-old former chief executive of Intel, is advocating a new master’s degree program in translational medicine (the art of taking laboratory, one-off discoveries and putting them into mass production — in higher volume and at lower cost than previous treatments).

The degree would combine the talents mainly of engineering and medical schools, with some business know-how tossed in.

New form of superhard carbon observed

October 12, 2011

Amorphous diamond (credit: Carnegie Institution of Washington)

Scientists at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory and associates have discovered a new form of carbon capable of withstanding extreme pressure stresses previously observed only in diamond.

The experiment started with a form of carbon called glassy carbon, first synthesized in the 1950s, that combines desirable properties of glasses and ceramics with those of graphite. The team created the new carbon allotrope (form) by compressing glassy carbon… read more

Nanotube circuit could boost chip speeds

March 24, 2006

IBM researchers have created field effect transistors along a carbon nanotube that had been deposited onto a silicon wafer. They could lead to near-terahertz processing, up from today’s low-gigahertz range.

Unlike shrunken conventional silicon circuits, the resulting logic circuit yielded virtually no electron flow impedance, meaning current flowed faster.

The nanotube circuit properties will allow the manufacture of smaller transistors with electrons flowing faster through their wires, making… read more

An Electrifying Startup

April 30, 2008

A novel lithium-ion battery developed by A123 Systems stores more than twice as much energy as nickel-metal hydride batteries (used in today’s hybrid cars), while delivering the bursts of power necessary for high performance.

A123′s batteries could finally make lithium-ion technology practical for the auto industry. Instead of cobalt oxide, they use an electrode material made from nanoparticles of lithium iron phosphate modified with trace metals. The resulting batteries… read more

Breakthrough ‘Interface Tuning’ Is Macro Step For Microelectronics

June 16, 2003

The ability to make atomic-level changes in the functional components of semiconductor switches, demonstrated by a team of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, North Carolina State University and University of Tennessee physicists, could lead to huge changes in the semiconductor industry. The results are reported in the June 13 issue of Science.

The experiments demonstrated that the Schottky barrier — the boundary at the edge of a substance where electrons… read more

At the International Robot Exhibition in Japan, Robots For Your Every Need

December 1, 2009

The economic recession has hardly slowed down the growing swarm of robots designed for almost every task imaginable, many showcasing their skills at Japan’s International Robot Exhibition 2009.

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