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Ben Coxworth

Scientists have created a tiny artificial muscle, that could be used in motors to propel n...

We've been hearing a lot lately about the possibility of treating medical conditions using nanobots - tiny robots that would be injected into a patient's bloodstream, where they would proceed to travel to their targets, not unlike the microscopic submarine in the movie Fantastic Voyage ... except nanobots wouldn't be crewed by tiny shrunken-down humans. One challenge that still needs to be met, however, is figuring out a way of propelling the devices. Well, we may now be closer to a solution. Yesterday, development of a new type of nanoscale artificial muscle was announced, which works like the muscles in an elephant's trunk. These could conceivably be used in nanobots, to whip them along using a rotating flagellum - a tiny sperm-like tail, in other words.  Read More

New computer modeling technology suggests that Tyrannosaurus rex was even larger than prev...

Tyrannosaurus rex, that coolest of all the dinosaurs, may have been even bigger and scarier than originally thought. That’s the conclusion that was recently reached by a team of scientists, who used computer modeling technology to estimate the average body mass of the carnivorous dinosaurs. After digitally “fleshing out” existing T. rex skeletons, the researchers now believe that the reptiles grew twice as fast, and reached adult weights up to 30 percent higher than previously assumed.  Read More

SINTEF's Dag Wang, who is part of a team developing an autofocus lens that mimics the huma...

Mobile phone cameras generally aren't known for their fantastic image quality. One of the reasons for this is the fact that most of them have fixed-focus lenses, as opposed to the autofocus lenses on all but the cheapest stand-alone cameras. The phone cameras partially compensate by using a small aperture to maintain a good depth of field, but this limits their use in low-light situations. Of course, their lenses could automatically focus by moving in and out (like those on larger cameras), but this would draw considerable power from the phones' batteries. Now, however, Norwegian scientists have unveiled a low-power autofocus lens for mobile phone cameras, that works like the human eye.  Read More

A new system allows mobile phones to access certain data only when they're in a given phys...

There are plenty of situations in which it’s convenient for people to be able to receive sensitive data on their smartphones – one example could be a nurse at a clinic, who needs a doctor’s office to email over a patient’s immunization records. The problem is, those confidential records will still be on her phone, when she leaves work with it at the end of the day. A new system developed at Virginia Tech, however, offers a solution to that problem. It allows mobile phones to access certain data only when they’re in a given physical location, and wipes that data from their memories when they leave.  Read More

The 'Questionable Observer Detector' is a computer system that is able to identify people ...

Chances are, you’ve seen at least one or two TV shows in which the police examine news footage shot at several different crime scenes, and recognize the same person’s face showing up repeatedly in the crowds of onlookers ... the ol’ “criminal returning to the scenes of their crimes” scenario. Realistically, it’s pretty hard to believe that one person could look through all that footage, and remember all those faces. It turns out that a computer could do it, however, as scientists at Indiana’s University of Notre Dame have illustrated with their “Questionable Observer Detector," or QuOD.  Read More

Professor Holger Hermanns with his prototype wireless bicycle braking system

Given that wireless gear-shifting for bicycles has been around for the past few years, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone has now developed a wireless braking system. Created by computer scientists at Germany’s Saarland University, the current prototype still looks a little boxy, but it does do away with cables and brake levers. According to computer algorithms that would normally be used in control systems for aircraft or chemical factories, the system should offer 99.999999999997 percent reliability – that means it would fail three times out of a trillion braking attempts.  Read More

The Kuat Racks Bottle Lock is a bike lock that has the form of a water bottle

Bike locks ... they’re very necessary items, but are sometimes a hassle to carry when you’re riding. U-locks can be clipped into a frame-mounted bracket, but not everyone wants a big plastic bracket permanently installed on their prized two-wheeler. They can also be stuffed in a backpack, although that can be a challenge if space in said backpack is already at a premium. Alternatives include a lock that you wear like a belt, and a lock that straps onto the bicycle’s top tube. Now, there’s another option – a lock that has the form of a water bottle, so it can sit in your bottle cage.  Read More

The winners of the US$1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE were announced tod...

Last July, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the X PRIZE Foundation launched the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. As with previous X PRIZE competitions, this one was intended to encourage private sector scientific research, by offering a cash prize to whichever team could best meet a given challenge. In this case, teams had to demonstrate a system of their own making, that could recover oil from a sea water surface at the highest Oil Recovery Rate (ORR) above 2,500 US gallons (9,463.5 liters) per minute, with an Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE) of greater than 70 percent. Today, the winning teams were announced.  Read More

Romo is a miniature robot that uses apps on its user's existing smartphone as its 'brain'

When you think about it, smartphones are more than just fancy phones – they’re actually tiny portable computers. Given that so many people now own these tiny computers, why should they have to pay to buy another computer that’s built into an electronic device, when they could instead just use their existing smartphone as the “brain” of that device? That’s the approach that has been taken by products such as the Bubo camcorder rig, and now also by Romo-The Smartphone Robot.  Read More

The RoChair is a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a central lever

Imagine if the only way of propelling yourself on a bicycle was to reach down and turn one of the wheels with your hand. It would be pretty inefficient, yet that’s essentially how a wheelchair works. Of course, wheelchairs are set up so that the push-rims can be reached very easily, but the propulsion process still comes down to the wheels being directly pushed forward by hand. ROTA Mobility, however, has an alternative. It’s called the RoChair, and it’s a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a front-and-center-mounted lever.  Read More

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