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Colin Jeffrey

Environment

New technique turns common plastic waste into fuel

Polyethylene, the plastic and its derivatives used in making the majority of the world's disposable beverage containers, is produced at a staggering volume of over 100 million metric tons each year, most of which ends up in landfills. Now scientists from the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry (SIOC) in China have found a way to turn this waste into a usable liquid fuel.Read More

Computers

Homegrown Chinese supercomputer claims world number one ranking

A supercomputer equipped with 10,649,600 computing cores and capable of carrying out some 93 quadrillion calculations per second has just been crowned the world's most powerful supercomputer. Dubbed Sunway TaihuLight, this computing behemoth from China outperforms its nearest rival – another Chinese supercomputer – by being twice as fast and three times as efficient.Read More

Physics Feature

A long way from everything: The search for a Grand Unified Theory

The recent confirmation of gravity waves observed by the LIGO project represents a huge breakthrough in physics, verifying Albert Einstein's predictions regarding the effect of mass on space and time and supporting his general theory of relativity published in 1916. But what of his other grand hypothesis? Einstein's unified field theory consumed the last 30 years of his life without resolution, but how much closer have we come to a theory that brings every known force in the universe together into a single, all-encompassing frame of reference? Read More

Environment

Solar-powered air-con uses heat to cool shopping center

Solar-concentrating thermal technology is being used to power the air-conditioning system of an entire shopping center in Australia solely from the rays of the sun. With around 60 percent of all energy used in shopping centers being consumed by heating and cooling needs, the new system could lead the way to significant power and cost savings in a range of large commercial spaces.Read More

Space

Earth picks up asteroid traveling companion

An asteroid dubbed 2016 HO3 has recently been discovered that, whilst technically in orbit around the sun, is also spinning in its own merry dance around the Earth. Somewhere between 120 ft (40 m) and 300 ft (100 m) in size, our little travelling partner is estimated to have been in step with our orbit for about a hundred years now, and will continue to do so for at least many hundreds more. Too far away to be identified as a satellite to our planet, it is stable enough at the moment to be seen as a near-Earth companion body. Read More

Medical

Low-cost graphene-based biosensor chip detects DNA mutations in real time

One of the most common indicators of many diseases and cancer in blood is the presence of a genetic mutation known as a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). Unfortunately, to date such tests for SNPs are slow, cumbersome and – above all – expensive. Now a team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have developed a new graphene-based sensor that promises to deliver test results easily, in real time, and inexpensively. The researchers believe this could be a breakthrough in the early detection and screening for many life-threatening illnesses.Read More

Space

Essential feature of life detected outside our solar system

A molecule that exhibits a specific property associated with all life on Earth has been discovered in interstellar space for the first time. Displaying the quality of chirality, or "handedness", this molecule has a distinct one-way molecular geometry found only in biological building blocks like amino acids, proteins, and enzymes. This discovery may help provide answers to the origins of homochirality, whereby all a substance's molecules are of the same chiral form, and why it appears so important for biology.Read More

Energy

A salty battery bath to combat EV range anxiety

The degradation of electrodes in lithium-based batteries has been a major inhibitor to their operating life, particularly when dendrites "growing" from these corroding electrodes short-circuit in the electrolyte. Australian researchers have found that pre-treating lithium electrodes in a special salt bath decreases the breakdown of the electrodes and boosts performance and battery life so markedly it could bring an end to range anxiety for drivers of electric vehicles.Read More

Science

Sound waves used to boost intensity of light on a silicon chip

Using a newly-developed waveguide, scientists at Yale have created a method to significantly increase the power of laser light on a silicon chip by boosting it with sound waves. The researchers believe that this new device could have practical uses in commercial technologies, including more efficient fiber-optic communications and better data signal processing. Read More

Science

Scientists design and build new energy-carrying particles

In the mysterious microscopic realm where the electromagnetic fields of light and matter intimately intermingle as they exchange energy, plasmons, excitons, and other particles with unexpected and usual properties abound. Now physicists have created a new set of energy-carrying particles to add to this range. Dubbed "topological plexcitons," these new particles show promise in greatly enhancing energy flows for solar cells and nanoscale photonic circuitry.Read More

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