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Ben Coxworth

A life vest incorporating one of the fabric antennas, being tested in Finland

A patch about the size of the leather name tab on a pair of jeans could save your life one day – should you be stranded at sea, that is. In a project overseen by the European Space Agency (ESA), researchers from Finnish company Patria and the Tampere University of Technology have created a flexible fabric antenna, that can be sewn into life vests. Once activated, that antenna transmits its coordinates to earth-orbiting satellites, that can immediately relay the location to rescue personnel.  Read More

The Flipit is a charging device that draws power from electrical outlets that are already ...

Perhaps you’ve encountered a travel scenario like this before ... you arrive at your hotel room and go to plug in your mobile phone, only to discover that the bedside lamp and clock radio are already occupying both plug-ins of the most conveniently-located AC wall outlet. While there might be room on another outlet, it could involve your having to squeeze in behind the TV, or leaving your phone someplace where you might forget it. If you had a Flipit USB charger, however, you could draw power from that first outlet, while still leaving the light and the radio plugged in.  Read More

Thrustmaster's Ferrari F1 Wheel Add-On

When you're playing your favorite car-racing game, are you having trouble getting yourself to believe that you're really behind the wheel of a state-of-the-art race car? Well, perhaps it's because of the actual wheel that you're using ... it could also have something to do with the fact that you're sitting on a couch with a bowl of chips, but we'll leave that one for now. Anyhow, gaming gear company Thrustmaster has just unveiled its new Ferrari F1 Wheel Add-On, which is a full-size replica of the 150° Italia racing wheel used by real Formula 1 drivers.  Read More

Researchers have created an efficient new thermoelectric nanomaterial, that could be used ...

Virtually all electrical devices and industrial processes create heat as they operate, which is typically wasted. In the past several years, various thermoelectric technologies have been developed to address that situation, by converting such heat into electricity. The ideal material for the purpose would be one that has a high electrical conductivity, but a low thermal conductivity – that way, it could carry plenty of electricity without losing efficiency through overheating. Unfortunately, electrical and thermal conductivity usually seem to go hand in hand. With some help from an ordinary microwave oven, however, researchers from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created a nanomaterial that appears to fit the bill.  Read More

A newly-developed mathematical model could make the development of new plastics much more ...

When it comes to the development of new plastics, two things have generally happened – a plastic is created and then a use is found for it, or a long trial-and-error process is undertaken in order to create a plastic with specific qualities. In a move that has been described as “comparable to cracking a plastics DNA,” however, scientists at the University of Leeds and Durham University have created a mathematical model that should allow specialty plastics to be created much more quickly and efficiently.  Read More

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

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