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Invisible Revolution

March 14, 2007

Artificially structured metamaterials could transform telecommunications, data storage, and even solar energy.

Fuel-Cell Power-Up

October 28, 2008

A team headed by MIT chemical-engineering professor Paula Hammond has developed a polymer membrane that increases the energy output of methanol fuel cells by 50 percent by reducing permeability (leakage of methanol).

It could make this technology suitable as a lighter, longer-­lasting, and more environmentally friendly alternative to batteries in consumer electronics devices.

Japan develops ‘touchable’ 3D TV technology

August 26, 2010

The world’s first 3D television system that allows users to touch, pinch or poke images floating in front of them has been developed by a research team at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

The creators see it being used to simulate surgical operations and in video game software, allowing players to experience the sensation of holding weapons or sports equipment.

The Google Supercomputer

May 10, 2004

A consensus now believes that Google has about 100,000 servers, aggregated into one giant supercomputer organized by a sophisticated proprietary file system that holds all of the Web and performs seamlessly.

Also see “How many Google machines,” which estimates Google’s supercomputer performance at between 126 and 316 teraflops, making it by far the fastest supercomputer in the world, based on the Top500 list. – Ed.

Futuristic NASA think tank to be shut down

March 21, 2007

NASA will likely shut down its Institute for Advanced Concepts, which funds research into futuristic ideas in spaceflight and aeronautics, such as spacecraft that could surf the solar system on magnetic fields, motion-sensitive spacesuits that could generate power, and tiny, spherical robots that could explore Mars.

The reason appears to be NASA’s tight budget.

Harnessing The Power Of The Brain

November 4, 2008

CBS Sixty Minutes has interviewed two paralyzed patients with brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that allow them to communicate and control a computer.

Brown University neuroscientist John Donoghue believes that amputees will one day be using BCIs to control robotic arms, and those with paralysis will be able to move their own arms and legs again.

Hydrogen Cars

May 17, 2004

A Department of Energy report has found that nanotechnology could reduce the high costs of hydrogen cars by developing revolutionary ways of producing and storing hydrogen.

Hydrogen stores energy more effectively than batteries, burns twice as efficiently in a fuel cell as gasoline does in an engine, and produces a single waste product, water.

Flapping robotic birdplane lands right on your hand

May 3, 2012


A flapping birdplane robot that can land on the back of your hand is under development at the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), IEEE Spectrum Automaton Blog reports.

This bio-inspired model (based on birds and bats) can reorient its wings while gliding, providing glide-phase control without a bunch of extra complicated and heavy actuators.

Ref.: A. Paranjape, J. Kim, and S.-J. Chung, Closed-Loop Perching of… read more

Study Re-evaluates Evolution of Mammals

March 29, 2007

The mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and other life 65 million years ago apparently did not, contrary to conventional wisdom, immediately clear the way for the rise of today’s mammals.

In fact, the ancestral branches of most mammals, including primates, rodents and hoofed animals, emerged long before the global extinction and survived it more or less intact. But it was not until at least 10 million to 15… read more

Students Hope BioBeer Can Fight Disease

November 10, 2008

Rice University students are developing “BioBeer” brewed using yeast genetically modified to produce resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound found in red wine and a few other foods that has been shown to have cancer-fighting and cardiovascular benefits in mice.

Puckish robots pull together

June 1, 2004

The frictionless conditions of space are being simulated by air-hockey tables, as a new generation of intelligent robots is trained to build space stations and solar arrays.

The work demonstrates how teams of mobile, communicating robots can perform complex tasks: for example, they can collaborate to push objects over a surface. This is reminiscent of the way ants show group intelligence when carrying out collective tasks such as foraging.… read more

The Memory Hacker

April 8, 2007

USC’s Center for Neural Engineering researchers have developed a chip that can communicate with brain cells, a first step toward an implantable machine that could restore memories in people with brain damage or help them make new ones.

The chip can receive analog signals from live brain tissue, convert them to digital signals, and then reconvert them to an analog signal relayed to healthy neurons on the other side.… read more

Vitamin C lowers levels of inflammation biomarker considered predictor of heart disease

November 14, 2008

A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley adds to the evidence that vitamin C supplements can lower concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker for elevated risk of cardiovascular problems and diabetes.

However, they also found that treatment with vitamin C is ineffective in persons whose levels of CRP are less than 1 milligram per liter. The researchers also said that for people with… read more

Robots on TV: Five glimpses of future machines

September 21, 2010


Robots used by divers exploring shipwrecks and underwater caves, speech-recognition for search and rescue robots, domestic bots, a shape-shifting robot that compensates for damaged limbs, and a bot modeled on the behavior of a child are five latest robot developments described in a special video section.

Dog’s verbal tricks probe origin of language

June 11, 2004

A pet dog with a “vocabulary” of 200 words has given scientists clues that some animals may have the comprehension necessary for language, even though they cannot actually talk.

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