Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Grant Banks

Real-time data about slippery patches on the road is used to warn nearby vehicles nearby

Volvo has a history of shaping many safety features we take for granted today, regardless of what brand of car we drive. From the first introduction of the safety cage in 1944 and pioneering laminated windshields that same year, Volvo has always prided itself as a safety trailblazer. Now the Swedish automotive company is further developing its cloud-based infotainment system as part of a safety-focused pilot project.  Read More

Harvard physicists Federico Capasso (left) and Steven J. Byrnes (right) are part of a team...

Could it one day be possible to generate electricity from the loss of heat from Earth to outer space? A group of Harvard engineers believe so and have theorized something of a reverse photovoltaic cell to do just this. The key is using the flow of energy away from our planet to generate voltage, rather than using incoming energy as in existing solar technologies.  Read More

A new cell-printing technique similar to the ancient art of block printing could see the c...

Researchers in Houston have developed a cost effective method for printing living cells, claiming almost a 100 percent survival rate. The method, which is akin to a modern version of ancient Chinese wood block printing, allow cells to be printed on any surface and in virtually any two dimensional shape. And while current inkjet printers adapted to print living cells can cost upwards of US$10,000 with a cell survival rate of around 50 percent, this simple new technique could see the cell stamps produced for around $1.  Read More

“Stick insects have developed an ingenious way of overcoming the conflict between attachme...

Could studying the slow moving stick insect help Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt cover 100 meters faster? Researchers at Cambridge believe it could. It's all to do with sticky toes versus hairy toes.  Read More

A moly sulfide nanocluster on a graphite surface form the electrode that allows it to form...

Chemical engineers have found a 30-year-old recipe that stands to make future hydrogen production cheaper and greener. The recipe has led researchers to a way to liberate hydrogen from water via electrolysis using molybdenum sulfide – moly sulfide for short – as the catalyst in place of the expensive metal platinum.  Read More

Mouse embryo generated from STAP cells (Image: Riken)

An international research effort has found that mature animal cells can be shocked into an embryonic state simply by soaking them in acid or putting them under physical stress. The fortuitous breakthrough could prove to be massive for many fields of medical research if the method can be replicated using human cells, something researchers are confident will be possible.  Read More

Mimicking polar bear fur, which is able to insulate the animal's body to temperatures of 9...

Put a polar bear and a biophotonics expert together in a chilly room and what do you get? Potentially, better insulation. When looking to uncover the secrets of the impressive insulation properties of polar bear fur, researchers at the University of Namur in Belgium and the University of Hassan I in Morocco found that radiation plays a larger role than conduction in the insulation of polar animals, such as penguins and polar bears, than previously believed.  Read More

A new type of carbon nanotube sponge containing sulfur and iron could help clean up oil sp...

A new type of carbon nanotube (CNT) sponge that contains sulfur and iron has been developed and is proving to be more effective at soaking up water contaminants, such as oil, fertilizers, pesticides and pharmaceuticals, than previously seen. The magnetic properties of these nanosponges also make them easier to retrieve from the environment once the clean-up job is done.  Read More

Researchers at the Institute for Molecules and Materials at Radboud University Nijmegen us...

Previously, chemists have managed to create artificial cell walls and developed synthetic DNA to produce self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cells. Now, for the first time, researchers have used polymers to produce an artificial eukaryotic cell capable of undertaking multiple chemical reactions through working organelles.  Read More

A modifier protein that can be used to interfere with the plant's growth repression protei...

Researchers have discovered a new way to increase plant growth by suppressing the natural response to environmental stress. The scientists have found a modifier protein that can be used to interfere with the plant's growth repression proteins independently of the previously identified hormone Gibberellin. They believe this will lead to higher crop yields, even in unfavorable conditions.  Read More

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