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Drones to extend Internet to remote areas

April 16, 2014

Titan Solera 50 drone (credit: Titan Aerospace)

Two companies have just extended the reach of the  Internet.

Google has acquired Titan Aerospace, a developer of jet-sized drones intended to fly nonstop for years,the New Mexico company has announced. Titan says it could help people by “providing internet connections in remote areas or helping monitor environmental damage like oil spills and deforestation.”

The Wall Street Journal quotes Google as saying the technology could… read more

The lowest-price, easiest-to-use 3D printer yet

April 16, 2014

The Micro 3D printer (credit: MD3)

If you’re on the edge about deciding to get a 3D printer, this Kickstarter campaign for The Micro, billed as the “first truly consumer 3D printer,” may just push you off it.

It already has for more than 9,000 backers, who have pledged an impressive $2.7 million since April 7 — far exceeding the $50,000 goal.

For a pledge of $299, you get the pre-assembled printer… read more

Ten ways 3D printing could change space

April 16, 2014

A close up of a ligthweight titanium lattice ball manufactured using the Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing process. This design is a good example of AM capabilities: these hollow balls possesing a complex external geometry could not have been manufactured in a single part using a conventional manufacturing process. But they are incredibly light while also stiff, opening up possibilities for future space applications.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is investigating the potential of additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, to transform how space missions are put together, and has identified ten ways.

1. Items impossible to make any other way

This titanium-lattice ball is a good example of additive manufacturing capabilities. These hollow balls have a complex external geometry,  making them incredibly light while remaining stiff and… read more

International Space Station to beam video via laser back to Earth

April 15, 2014

nasa-opals

NASA is preparing for an April 14 launch to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX-3 mission to test NASA’s first space-to-Earth optical communication system.

The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) system will demonstrate up to 50 megabits per second transmission, compared to 200 to 400 kilobits per second for many deep-space missions.

Future deep space optical communication systems will provide more than… read more

Bio-inspired transparent synthetic materials could protect cars and people

April 15, 2014

NewsImage_BioCeramic3

MIT researchers have analyzed the shells of a sea creature, the mollusk Placuna placenta to determine exactly why they are so resistant to penetration and damage — even though they are 99 percent calcite, a weak, brittle mineral. The shells are exceptionally tough but clear enough to read through,

The properties of this natural armor make it a promising template for the development of bio-inspired synthetic materials… read more

A new self-healing chemistry for plastics

April 15, 2014

Self-healing process (credit:  Kim K. Oehlenschlaeger et al./Advanced Materials)

Scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Evonik Industries have developed a self-healing chemistry that allows for rapid healing of a plastic material using mild heating, restoring its initial molecular structure. It is based on a reversible chemical crosslinking reaction*.

  • The reaction happens at temperatures from 50°C (122°F) to 120°C (248°F).
  • The material can be restored completely in less than 5 minutes, and

read more

3D-printed tumor model allows for more realistic testing of how cancer cells grow and spread

April 15, 2014

3D cellular morphology on day 8

A group of researchers in China and the U.S. has created a 3D-printed model of a cancerous tumor to help discover new anti-cancer drugs and better understand how tumors develop, grow, and spread throughout the body.

The model consists of a scaffold of fibrous proteins (gelatin, alginate, and fibrin) corresponding to the extracellular matrix (support structure) of a tumor, in the form of a grid structure 10… read more

What is the optimal size of a power grid?

April 14, 2014

Areas affected by the blackout of 2003 (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

David Newman, a physicist at the University of Alaska, believes that smaller grids would reduce the likelihood of severe outages, such as the 2003 Northeast blackout that cut power to 50 million people in the United States and Canada for up to two days.

Newman and co-authors make their case in the journal Chaos.

North America has three power grids that transmit electricity from hundreds of… read more

Improving the human-robot connection

April 14, 2014

robot-eyes-to-bottle

Researchers at the University of British Columbia enlisted the help of a human-friendly robot named Charlie to study the simple task of handing an object to a person. Past research has shown that people have difficulty figuring out when to reach out and take an object from a robot because robots fail to provide appropriate nonverbal cues.

“We hand things to other people multiple times a day… read more

Body-hack app shortcuts jet-lag recovery

April 14, 2014

Entrain iOS app

A new jet-lag mobile app called Entrain released by University of Michigan mathematicians reveals previously unknown shortcuts that can help travelers entrain (synchronize) their circadian rhythms to new time zones as efficiently as possible.

Entrain is built around the premise that light, particularly from the sun and in wavelengths that appear to our eyes as the color blue, is the strongest signal to regulate circadian… read more

Nanoelectronic circuits that operate more than 10,000 times faster than current microprocessors

Could revolutionize high-speed electronics, nanoscale optoelectronics, and nonlinear optics
April 14, 2014

nus-focused-electron-beam

Circuits that can operate at frequencies up to 245 terahertz — tens of thousands times faster than today’s state-of-the-art microprocessors — have been designed and fabricated by researchers at National University of Singapore and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

The new circuits can potentially be used to construct ultra-fast computers or single-molecule detectors in the future, and open up new possibilities in nanoelectronic devices. For… read more

Laboratory-grown vaginas implanted in patients

April 14, 2014

artificial_vagina

A research team led by Anthony Atala, M.D., director of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, has reported in The Lancet the first human recipients of laboratory-grown vaginal organs, which were engineered with their own cells.

“This pilot study is the first to demonstrate that vaginal organs can be constructed in the lab and used successfully in humans,” said Atala. “This may represent a… read more

A quantum logic gate combining light and matter

April 11, 2014

quantum_logic_gate

Scientists at Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ) have successfully achieved a quantum logic gate using a single photon and a single atom.

In the experiment, described in a Nature paper, the binary states 0 and 1 are represented by the two spin orientations of an atom (upwards or downwards), and by two polarization states of an optical photon (left or right circular), respectively.

The atom is… read more

Light lattice that traps atoms could power networks of quantum computing

April 11, 2014

switch-quantum-computing

Scientists at MIT and Harvard University have developed a new method for connecting atoms and light that could help in the development of powerful quantum computing systems.

The new technique allows researchers to couple a lone atom of rubidium, a metal, with a single photon, or light particle. This allows both the atom and photon to switch the quantum state of each other, providing a mechanism through… read more

Navy researchers demonstrate flight powered by fuel created from seawater

April 11, 2014

Flying a radio-controlled replica of the historic WWII P-51 Mustang red-tail aircraft—of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen—NRL researchers (l to r) Dr. Jeffrey Baldwin, Dr. Dennis Hardy, Dr. Heather Willauer, and Dr. David Drab (crouched), successfully demonstrate a novel liquid hydrocarbon fuel to power the aircraft's unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine. The test provides proof-of-concept for an NRL developed process to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce hydrogen gas (H2) from seawater, subsequently catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into fuel by a gas-to-liquids process (credit: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory).

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a technology for simultaneously extracting carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater and converting the two gases to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel, as a possible replacement for petroleum-based jet fuel.

Fueled by the liquid hydrocarbon, the research team demonstrated sustained flight of a radio-controlled  P-51 replica of the legendary Red Tail Squadron, powered by an off-the-shelf, unmodified two-stroke internal combustion engine.… read more

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