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Ben Coxworth

One of the diamond cavities carved by the NIST team

With sizes typically measured in micrometers, Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) devices are already being used in applications such as super-accurate sensors, energy-harvesting devices, and electronic signal amplifiers. Given how difficult it would be to replace such systems' moving parts as they wear out, it would be ideal if those parts could be made from as hard a material as possible. Well, while most MEMS are presently made chiefly of silicon, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are now on their way to making them from diamonds.  Read More

The Morgan Aero SuperSports, which will serve as the base for the electric concept

The Morgan Aero SuperSports is a pretty impressive automobile, even in its standard form. It has a lightweight aluminum body, a hardwood and leather cockpit and a top speed of 170 mph (273 km/h). It also has a 4.8 liter BMW V8 engine, although in a project currently being undertaken by the British automaker and Zytek Automotive, that power plant will be replaced with a 70kW electric motor. The result will be known as the Electric Morgan +E. Although only two of them will be made, the company says that if the experience proves favorable, "further developments" could result.  Read More

The low-cost, high-density energy-storage membrane, created at the National University of ...

Researchers from the National University of Singapore’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NUSNNI) have created what they claim is the world’s first energy-storage membrane. Not only is the material soft and foldable, but it doesn’t incorporate liquid electrolytes that can spill out if it’s damaged, it's more cost-effective than capacitors or traditional batteries, and it's reportedly capable of storing more energy.  Read More

The NIST Dragon is a device that creates burning embers, to test how well building materia...

Thousands of people were left homeless this May, when over 40 percent of the town of Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada was destroyed by a wildfire that started in the adjacent forest. This is just one example of the devastation that can result when fires occur in what is known as the wildland-urban interface. While some buildings are destroyed when the wildfire itself reaches them, others can catch fire due to wind-borne embers from that fire. In an effort to test how well wooden decks are able to resist such embers, America's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created something known as the Dragon - it's a device that sucks in tree mulch, and "breathes" it out as firebrands.  Read More

NASA is planning to demonstrate the largest solar sail ever built, in an upcoming space mi...

NASA's upcoming Technology Demonstration Missions are intended to "transform its space communications, deep space navigation and in-space propulsion capabilities." Three project proposals have been selected for these missions, which should be launching in 2015 and 2016. One of those projects, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, we've told you about already. Another, however, will be demonstrating a mission-capable solar sail. While NASA has recently tested a solar sail measuring 100 square feet (9.29 square meters), this one will be the largest ever flown, spanning a whopping 15,543 square feet, or 1,444 square meters.  Read More

Scientists have reversed the aging process in human adult stem cells, which are in turn re...

By now, most people are probably aware of the therapeutic value of stem cells, as they can become any other type of cell in the human body. One of their main duties, in fact, is to replace those other cells as they degrade. Once people reach an advanced age, however, even the stem cells themselves start to get old and nonfunctional - when the cells that are supposed to replace the other cells can't do their job anymore, age-related tissue problems start occurring. A team of researchers from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, however, may be on the way to solving that problem. They have succeeded in reversing the aging process in human adult stem cells.  Read More

Scientists have successfully replaced a rat's cerebellum with a chip programmed to perform...

Two years ago, the director of Switzerland’s Blue Brain Project predicted that an artificial human brain would be possible within ten years. Since then, we have seen examples of artificial synapses and neural networks. In the latest step towards man-made brains, however, scientists from Israel’s Tel Aviv University have restored brain function to a rat by replacing its disabled cerebellum with one that they created.  Read More

The SeaTwirl's vertical wind turbine (1), torus ring (2), float assembly (3) and generator...

One of the main drawbacks of wind turbines is the fact that for maximum efficiency, the power that they generate must be fed into the grid right as the wind is blowing and their blades are spinning. While that power can be stored in batteries for later use, some of it will always be lost in the process. Sweden's experimental new SeaTwirl system, however, is designed to kinetically store wind energy until it's required - it's basically a seagoing flywheel.  Read More

The Leaf Grip Remote Controller is an experimental device that users twist or bend to cont...

Why change channels by clicking on buttons, when you could do the same thing by twisting your remote? Japan's Murata Manufacturing Company obviously sees advantages in this approach and has created a prototype dubbed the "Leaf Grip Remote Controller" to showcase the idea. Flexing the battery-less device not only changes TV channels, but it also switches inputs, controls the volume, and turns the power on and off.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image of the nanowire-alginate composite scaffolds, showing...

Around the world, scientists have been working on ways of replacing the heart tissue that dies when a heart attack occurs. These efforts have resulted in heart "patches" that are made from actual cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells), or that encourage surrounding heart cells to grow into them. One problem with some such patches, however, lies in the fact that that they consist of cardiomyocytes set within a scaffolding of poorly-conductive materials. This means that they are insulated from the electrical signals sent out by the heart, so they don't expand and contract as the heart beats. Scientists at MIT, however, may be on the way to a solution.  Read More

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