World's Smallest Ultrasound Device Fits In Doc's Coat Pocket

Three minutes. That’s how long it will take your doctor to use the world’s smallest ultrasound device to find out if your chest pain is caused by fluid buildup around your heart—an early sign of congestive heart failure—or if it’s just last night’s chicken vindaloo.

[ Read Full Story ]

30-Second Science: Plants to the Rescue

Organic options for fuel, fertilizer and rubber

Fruit Fuel

About 20 percent of watermelons are left to rot in the field because they’re too blemished to sell in stores. Scientists from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service found that the unused fruit left on a harvested acre could produce about 24 gallons of bioethanol—fuel that could be poured back into farm equipment or sold on the open market, all without competing for land with food crops. This year, the group plans to start work on a mobile machine that could go from field to field harvesting castaway melons and turning them into fuel.

[ Read Full Story ]

Human Blood May Hold the Secret to Clean Coal

As geologists probe the world's rocky sediments for spots to safely store carbon dioxide underground, engineers are working on the first step of the process: separating pure CO2 from noxious smokestack emissions. An enzyme in our blood already has the trick down, however, and it captures two pounds of CO2 every day. Now a New Jersey company is trying to replicate the method.

[ Read Full Story ]

The Martian Torture Chamber

Earthly organisms undergo tests in Mars-like conditions

In a Berlin basement sits a small torture chamber. The air inside the hermetically sealed steel chest consists of a choking 95 per cent carbon dioxide, some nitrogen, and traces of oxygen and argon. The pressure within is 1/170 that on Earth, and the thermostat is set to –45˚C—in other words, a nice afternoon on Mars. Experiments at the facility regularly subject some of Earth’s hardiest creatures to this hell, and they do just fine.

[ Read Full Story ]

A Material Based on Sharkskin Stops Bacterial Breakouts

A whale’s skin is easily glommed up with barnacles, algae, bacteria and other sea creatures, but sharks stay squeaky-clean. Although these parasites can pile onto a shark’s rippled skin too, they can’t take hold and thus simply wash away. Now scientists have printed that pattern on an adhesive film that will repel bacteria pathogens from hospitals and public restrooms.

[ Read Full Story ]

How To Fix a Broken Collider: the LHC's Restart Checklist

Before scientists can put the Large Hadron Collider back to work this month solving the mysteries of particle physics, the LHC’s engineers face critical repairs to the US$5-billion device. First up: Fix the 53 superconducting magnets trashed in September 2008 when a power cable broke, causing the magnets to warm above their –272˚C operating temperature and lose conductivity, or “quench.” Then pipes for helium coolant melted, further damaging the magnets.

[ Read Full Story ]

It's About Time: A Power Line That Sheds Heavy Ice

Tired of Jack Frost knocking out your power? Victor Petrenko, an engineering professor at Dartmouth College, has developed de-icing technology that could save power lines from ice storms.

Until now, the only answer to frozen lines has been to hope that they don’t break or pull down poles under the weight of the ice. A single ice storm in early December left more than 1.25 million people in Pennsylvania, New England and New York shivering in the dark after ice storms snapped power lines.

[ Read Full Story ]

VASIMR Ion Engine Could Provide a Fast Lane to Mars

Six Europeans recently wrapped up 105 days in an isolation chamber with no TV, no showers, and lots of precooked food, to test the stresses of a journey to Mars. Real Marstronauts might not have to suffer through all that. A new ion engine, which shoots charged particles to create thrust, could get them to the Red Planet in just 39 days.

[ Read Full Story ]

Earthquake-Proof Skyscrapers Hide From Seismic Waves

The earliest known attempt at earthquake-proofing dates to the sixth century B.C., when builders in modern-day Iran inserted stone blocks between a structure and its foundation to reduce vibrations. Today’s engineers buffer buildings with metal springs, ball bearings and rubber pads, all designed to sop up the energy from seismic waves. This summer, a team of physicists at the University of Liverpool in England and the French National Centre for Scientific Research tested a different strategy: redirect the waves altogether.

[ Read Full Story ]

This Month's Innovations For a Greener Future: Megakites, Solar Flowers, and More

Up and Away: The kite generates electricity as it ascends.  © 2009 KiteGen Research S.R.L. All contents copyrighted. All Rights Reserved

A kite flown in a strong breeze will quickly unspool string as it climbs higher. KiteGen Research in Italy aims to turn that action into electricity. The company developed a prototype that flies 200-square-foot kites to altitudes of 2,600 feet, where wind streams are four times as strong as they are near ground-based wind turbines.

As the kite’s tether unspools, it spins an alternator that generates up to 40 kilowatts. Once the kite reaches its peak altitude, it collapses, and motors quickly reel it back in to restart the cycle. This spring, KiteGen started building a machine to fly a 1,500-square-foot kite, which it plans to finish by 2011, that could generate up to three megawatts—enough to power 9,000 homes.

[ Read Full Story ]

Robots That Eat Bugs and Plants for Power

Controversial robots devour biomass to gain energy independence

No matter how intelligent a robot might be, it’s nice knowing you can pull its plug to halt the anti-human insurrection. Whoops, not anymore. A new cohort of ’bots that make energy by gobbling organic matter could be the beginning of truly autonomous machines.

[ Read Full Story ]

"Quantum Quest" Brings Cassini to the Big Screen (Starring William Shatner as Every Star in the Universe)

Harry Kloor may be the world’s most well-rounded nerd. He is the only person to have earned doctorates in physics and chemistry simultaneously, and he has penned episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. And when NASA asked him for help in improving its image with young people, he drew on both of those experiences. The best way to get kids enthused about outer space, Kloor figured, was to hide their medicine in a bucket of popcorn. Next February, Quantum Quest, a star-studded CGI space adventure that pairs animated protons with real footage from NASA spacecraft, hits theaters. “Many of NASA’s scientists were inspired by Star Trek and Star Wars,” he says. “I want to inspire that kind of passion.” We caught up with Kloor to find out why kids will go nuts for quarks.

[ Read Full Story ]

A Dental Filling Made from Bile and Silica

A Smile for Bile:  Science Photo Library/Photo Researchers; © Thomas J. Peterson/Getty Images; iStock
The ancient Greeks thought an excess of bile could make you angry or melancholy, but Julian Zhu thinks the digestive juice could improve your smile.

[ Read Full Story ]

30-Second Science: Applied Math

Three new ways math can help you stay awake, clear clogged drains, and solve ancient mysteries

Red-Eye Flight Relief

If you drag after a transcontinental flight, imagine yourself after a trip to Mars. To aid frequent flyers and future Marstronauts, researchers at the University of Michigan and Harvard Medical School wrote software that models complex internal timing systems like our circadian clock. Based on variables such as light and number of time zones crossed, the software will determine how much and how often to expose travelers to full-spectrum light to reset their brain. Future versions will factor in caffeine and naps, which could help astronauts deal with day-night cycles on the moon or Mars.

[ Read Full Story ]

A Portable Device for Frying Electronics

An enemy missile has no strategic value if its computer is down. A high-power-microwave emitter can disable a missile's electronics on the launchpad, leaving bystanders unharmed -- and now Texas Tech University engineers have a plan to scale down the truck-size tech.

[ Read Full Story ]
Page 1 of 3 123next ›last »