science + technology news

Sneeze-sensing software gives avatars a good laugh

July 14, 2008

Software that can automatically recognize “non-linguistic” sounds such as laughter and generate an appropriate facial animation sequence, could improve the quality of web-based avatars or computer-animated movies.

University of Bath and University of Cardiff scientists used optical motion capture to record the facial expressions of four participants as they performed a number of laughs, sobs, sneezes and yawns. The researchers also recorded the participants’ voices during their performances. They… read more

Sniffing out terrorists

January 14, 2010

A new intelligent system to help identify terrorists carrying explosives has been developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics FKIE.

It uses a network of highly sensitive smell sensors that follow an explosive’s trail, combined with a second sensor network using laser scanners to track the route the carriers take.

Sniffling mice raise therapy hope

February 5, 2008

In a study led by London’s Imperial College, scientists have created a mouse that can catch a cold, raising hopes of new ways to treat serious respiratory conditions and asthma.

It had been thought rhinoviruses, which cause most human colds and can trigger asthma attacks, could only affect higher primates.

Rhinoviruses were discovered 50 years ago, but the failure to find a way to infect small animals had… read more

Snort stem cells to get them to brain

September 11, 2009

Snorting stem cells might be a way of getting large numbers of stem cells or therapeutic proteins such as neural growth factor into the brain without surgery, University Hospital of Tübingen researchers have found in an experiment with mice.

‘Snow flea antifreeze protein’ could help improve organ preservation

July 22, 2008
Protein and mirror form (Brad Pentelute)

University of Chicago and University of Pennsylvania researchers have synthesized an antifreeze protein–snow flea antifreeze protein (sfAFP)–used by Canadian snow fleas to survive sub-freezing winter temperatures.

Their results may allow large quantities of the protein to be made, allowing for potential medical and commercial uses, such as extending the storage life of donor organs and preventing ice-crystal formation in ice cream and other foods.

So Long, Energizer Bunny

March 27, 2009

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have built a piezoelectric effect (mechanical pressure converted to electricity) nanogenerator, the first to use this effect at the nanoscale.

This could allow microsensors and miniature medical devices to derive their electrical needs from their surroundings instead of from batteries.

So much space, so little time: why aliens haven’t found us yet

January 19, 2007

Rasmus Bjork, a physicist at the Niels Bohr institute, believes he may have solved the Fermi paradox.

Using a computer simulation of our own galaxy, he found that even if the alien ships could hurtle through space at a tenth of the speed of light, it would take 10 billion years to explore just 4 percent of the galaxy.

So what’s with all the dinosaurs?

November 22, 2006

The Creation Museum – motto: “Prepare to Believe!” – will be the first institution in the world whose contents, with the exception of a few turtles swimming in an artificial pond, are entirely fake.

It is dedicated to the proposition that the account of the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis is completely correct, and its mission is to convince visitors through a mixture of animatronic… read more

So Your Roomba Vacuums … Does It Also Take Pictures?

September 9, 2004

A growing breed of “hardware hackers” — computer and electronics savants who rip apart gear to change both form and function — is spurred on by a flood of low-price, highly sophisticated consumer electronics.

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Soaking up carbon dioxide and turning it into valuable products

August 31, 2015

Conceptual model showing how porphyrin COFs  could  be used to split CO2 into CO and oxygen . (credit: Omar Yaghi, Berkeley Lab/UC Berkeley)

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a system that absorbs carbon dioxide and also selectively reduces it to carbon monoxide (which serves as a primary building block for a wide range of chemical products including fuels, pharmaceuticals and plastics).

The trick: they’ve incorporated molecules of carbon dioxide reduction catalysts into the sponge-like crystals of covalentread more

Soaring global warming ‘can’t be ruled out’

January 27, 2005

A research project tested thousands of climate models and found that some produced a world that warmed by a huge 11.5°C when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations reached the levels expected to be seen later this century.

Social intelligence for robots

March 9, 2011

Simon Robot

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found that they can program a robot to understand when it gains a human’s attention and when it falls short.

With close to 80 percent accuracy, the socially expressive Simon robot was able to tell, using only his cameras as a guide, whether someone was paying attention to him or ignoring him.

“We would like to bring robots into the… read more

Social media and a school death threat

March 5, 2009

A team of Twitter users quickly acted to head off tragedy from a bomb threat in St. Louis Tuesday night.

Social media: five predictions for 2013

December 28, 2012


What does 2013 hold in store for the world of social media? CNET predicts:

1. MySpace relaunches; no one cares (no-brainer)

2. Twitter-Instagram photo rivalry continues to develop

3. Tout (video-sharing service) breaks out

4. Bigger bucks for Twitter (ads possible)

5. Facebook buys RockMelt? (its own browser)

Social networking for locusts

July 15, 2011

Swarming locusts (credit:

Insect swarming is created by the same kind of adaptive-network mechanisms that humans adopt for social networks, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Physics of Complex Systems have determined.

The researchers used ideas from studies on opinion formation in social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, and applied them to a study of 120 locusts marching in a ring-shaped arena in the lab.… read more

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