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Darren Quick

Darren Quick

Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.

— Medical

Spinning up artificial capillaries with a cotton candy machine

From growing a full thymus gland inside a mouse, to creating a slice of artificial liver tissue, to using ink jet printing technology to create a human ear, researchers are steadily moving us toward the day when ordering up a new organ could be as commonplace as ordering an MRI is today. One of the hurdles in creating lab-grown organs, though, is that the cells in such a structure need a way to receive nutrients. Researchers at Vanderbilt University (VU) may have just leaped that hurdle using a most unexpected tool – a cotton candy machine.

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— Medical

Clearing out damaged cells in mice extends lifespan by up to 35 percent

As we age, cells within our bodies can become damaged. As a way of helping prevent cancers developing, a biological mechanism called cellular senescence stops these damaged cells from dividing. Researchers at Mayo Clinic have now shown that clearing these senescent cells from the body of mice can improve health and extend their lifespan by up to 35 percent without any apparent adverse side effects.

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— Materials

Nanoscale lattice is world's smallest

Scientists from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have created a tiny lattice they claim is the world's smallest. Formed with struts and braces measuring less than 10 micrometers in length and less than 200 nanometers in diameter, the 3D lattice has a total size of less than 10 micrometers, but boasts a higher specific strength than most solids.

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GE turns out the lights on CFLs

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that could fit into standard light sockets only hit the market in the 1980s, but the signs are their days may be numbered. GE has announced it will cease production of CFLs this year and instead switch its focus to producing LEDs.

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— Materials

Graphene membrane makes for a more sensitive condenser microphone

Graphene's ever-growing list of remarkable properties has seen many wide-reaching potential applications for the wonder material proposed, but actual demonstrations of real-world uses are still thin on the ground. But that's slowly changing. Following a graphene-based light bulb headed for commercial release being revealed earlier this year, now scientists have developed a graphene-based condenser microphone that is more sensitive than its conventional cousins.

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— Electronics

"Covert contacts" enable more efficient solar cell design

You've probably noticed that solar panels sitting on people's roofs appear to be broken up into grids. These grid lines are actually metal contacts and, although they're necessary for conducting the electrical current generated by the underlying semiconductor, they reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the semiconductor layer. Now researchers at Stanford University have developed a way to make these reflective metal contacts almost invisible to incoming light, thereby increasing solar panel efficiency.

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— Biology

Tomato growth boosted with a spray of nanoparticles

Fans of The Simpsons may recall Lisa using genetic engineering to create a super tomato that she hoped would cure world hunger. Now researchers at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) have come close to the real thing, not through genetic engineering, but with the use of nanoparticles. Although the individual fruit aren't as large as Lisa's creation, the team's approach has resulted in tomato plants that produced almost 82 percent more fruit by weight, with the fruit also boasting higher antioxidant content.

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— Biology

"Magic" native Australian tobacco plant could be key to space-based food production

Scientists at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia have discovered a gene in an ancient Australian native tobacco plant that they say is the key to growing crops in space. The plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, has long been used in labs around the world to test viruses and vaccines due to the fact it has no immune system. Surprisingly, this trait has also led to the plant being extremely resilient, which is where space-based food production comes in.

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