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Ben Coxworth

Science

Nosy fish inspires help for the eyes

Presbyopia is a common visual condition, in which the eye's lens stiffens to the point that it can't focus on close objects. Glasses, surgery and regular contact lenses do help, but they also cause a loss in contrast, sensitivity and night vision. That's why scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Madison are developing an alternative – self-focusing contacts that are inspired by a fish.Read More

Environment

Backpack-wearing pigeons tweet London air quality readings

Wondering what the air quality is like in London? Well, over the next three days, you can ask a pigeon. More specifically, you can tweet your location to 10 pigeons located throughout the city, each one of which is equipped with a lightweight backpack that monitors ozone, nitrogen dioxide and volatile compounds. You'll receive a tweet back, letting you know just how safe it is to breathe the air in your region.Read More

Materials

Rubber coating gets a grip on shedding ice

Generally-speaking, hard objects and soft objects don't bond well together. It comes down to a principle known as "interfacial cavitation," in which one surface (the soft one) deforms under pressure, while the other (the hard one) doesn't – as a result, they pop apart. Now, scientists at the University of Michigan have used that principle to develop one of the most ice-repellent coatings ever made. Its applications could range from airplane wings to car windshields to freezers.Read More

Outdoors

Smart paddle coaches kayakers

Sea kayaking is like a lot of other activities, in that just because you enjoy doing it, doesn't mean you're doing it right. If you aren't out there with more experienced kayakers, though, how will you know what to change? Well, that's where Motionize Paddle comes in. It's a system that uses your smartphone to assess and improve your paddling.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Could a pill prevent cavities?

You may have already heard about how the introduction of probiotic "beneficial bacteria" to the gut can aid in digestion. Now, scientists from the University of Florida are proposing doing something similar with peoples' mouths. The result could be a cavity-prevention pill.Read More

Telecommunications

Shooting planes with lasers makes for better comms

Whether they're flying over battlefields, disaster sites or search-and-rescue operations, aircraft can prove to be a valuable "eye in the sky" for ground crews. Usually, data is transmitted from those planes using radio signals. Such signals can be jammed or intercepted, however, plus bandwidth limitations put a damper on just how much data can be sent. That's why scientists from the University of Oxford and Airbus Group Innovations are now using lasers instead.Read More

Space

Simulated Martian and lunar soils sprout their first crops

When and if colonists ever arrive on Mars, they're going to need something to eat … on a long-term, ongoing basis. That's why several research groups are looking into the feasibility of growing crops on the Red Planet. One of those teams, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, previously tried growing food plants in simulations of both lunar and Martian soil. Although those tests proved unsuccessful, that wasn't the case the most recent time around.Read More

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