Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Karen Sprey

By night the motorized doors secure the shops behind them

Motorized door technology adapted from airplane hangars and factory buildings, plus recycled materials from two abandoned warehouses have been used to create a dramatic, industrial-inspired facade for the Wyckoff Exchange in the Bushwick section Brooklyn, New York. The 100-foot-long, eighteen-foot-tall facade is only two inches deep, a feat achieved by architecture and design firm Andre Kikoski Architect (AKA) through innovative technology and construction processes.  Read More

Scientists from the University of Amsterdam have developed a range of new thermoset resins...

Scientists from the University of Amsterdam have developed a process for making fully biodegradable, non-toxic and non-hazardous thermoset resins from readily available, low-cost plant materials. This new range of plastics could be used for panels such as MDF in the construction industry and replace polyurethane and polystyrene packaging ... all without increasing cost or production times.  Read More

Scientists at Brown University have developed a new drug delivery system to safely hold a ...

Many people take pills to help manage or cure serious illness, and some of these life-saving drugs can only be absorbed in very specific parts of the intestine. The problem with oral administration is that pills often don’t dissolve at exactly the right site in the gastrointestinal tract where medicine can be absorbed into the bloodstream. A new drug delivery system developed by scientists at Brown University uses a magnetic gelatin capsule and an external magnet that can precisely sense the force between it and the pill and vary that force, as needed, to hold the pill in place. The team has successfully used the technology with rats and in future it could provide a new way to deliver many drugs to humans, including those with cancer or diabetes.  Read More

Charles Burton's historic skyscraper design (left) and the Crystal Palace in 1910

While the debate continues as to whether the world's first skyscraper was the the Home Insurance Building built in Chicago in 1885, or New York's seven floor Equitable Life Assurance Building built in 1870, it seems that the British pipped the Americans to the post in terms of a design. British architect Charles Burton designed a 1,000 foot (305 meter) high metal and glass building in response to a call to redesign The Crystal Palace, the famous London exhibition building, 30-odd years before the American buildings were erected. Burton's historic design sketch is headed for the auction block this week.  Read More

Wikipedia is celebrating its tenth birthday

Like "Google", "Wikipedia" has entered the common lexicon. I haven't yet heard anyone say they're going to Wikipedia something but I'm sure that someone, somewhere, is already doing it. Many of us have Wikipedia bookmarked as our "go to" site, the first port of call to get an overview of a topic. The free, online encyclopedia features roughly 17 million articles in 270 languages, all created by a volunteer community. On 15 January this year Wikipedia celebrates its tenth birthday – what had the potential to become disastrously chaotic has become a valued icon, consulted by more than 400 million people every month.  Read More

A device has been developed that cancels out the noise of the dental drill, and allows you...

Hands up, who doesn't get just the teensiest bit nervous about going to the dentist? Not many of you, I'll wager. Dentophobia – fear of dentists and dental care – is one of the most common phobias, and it's the high-pitched whine of the dentist's drill that causes most anxiety. If this applies to you, take heart. You may soon be able to relax (or at least tune out the sound of the drill) and listen to music on your own MP3 player, connected to a noise-canceling device developed by Kings College London in conjunction with Brunel University and London South Bank University.  Read More

Poo-Gloos (Bio-Domes) prior to submersion in a sewage lagoon

Poo isn't something generally talked about in polite company but like it or not, all of that human waste has to go somewhere. In smaller rural communities, it usually goes to wastewater lagoon systems; the alternative is mechanical treatment plants which process waste far more quickly but are expensive, labor intensive and often use chemicals. Enter the "Poo-Gloo," or Bio-Dome as it is officially known – an igloo-shaped device that can reportedly clean up sewage as effectively, but far more cheaply, than its mechanical counterparts. The Poo-Gloo, developed by Wastewater Compliance Systems, Inc., uses a combination of air, dark environment and large surface area to encourage the growth of a bacterial biofilm which consumes the wastewater pollutants. It is claimed that Poo-Gloos can treat pollutants just as quickly as mechanical plants while operating at a fraction of the cost – hundreds of dollars a month rather than thousands – and can be retrofitted to existing lagoon systems.  Read More

The ECO:Shield housing system is suitable for temporary use in disaster areas or for areas...

Each year natural disasters and civil unrest leave hundreds of thousands of people homeless throughout the world. Many of these crises occur in developing nations where traditional building materials are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive, and where the focus is often on staying alive, not maintenance of a home. The ECO:Shield system from Innovative Composites International Inc. (ICI) may present a welcome solution. The earthquake and hurricane resistant houses use recyclable materials and according to ICI, are cheaper than both conventional and other modular constructions. They are energy efficient and durable – resisting moisture, insects, rot and mould. And they can be constructed quickly using unskilled labor: an 8' x 16' (2.4 x 4.9 meters) ECO:Shield house can be assembled in less than 45 minutes with standard tools.  Read More

Muscle cells of untreated mice with muscular dystrophy (left) show little utrophin in cell...

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is the most common and severe childhood form of muscular dystrophy (MD), affecting one in 3,500 boys. The disease progressively weakens muscles cells and tissues until muscle degradation is so severe that the patient dies, most often in their late teens or twenties. Scientists at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and the University of Pennsylvania, hope their research into the human protein, biglycan, will ultimately improve the condition of muscular dystrophy sufferers. Their studies have shown that biglycan significantly slows muscle damage and improves function in mice with the Duchenne genetic mutation. Human clinical trials will be the next step.  Read More

Sensium-based devices continuously measured the physical effects of minus 40 degree temper...

Wearable health monitors have been available for some time, providing feedback on functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. They represent the tip of a potentially huge health and fitness market, from athletes and emergency services personnel to patients both in and recently discharged from hospital, who could benefit from real-time, intelligent wireless body monitoring of vital signs. Telemetry technology provider Toumaz has developed an ultra-low power system to wirelessly monitor heart rate, ECG, temperature and physical activity. The Sensium Life Platform has just been used to monitor the health of team members during a record-breaking 4,000 kilometer transantarctic expedition that not only made the fastest vehicle crossing of the Antarctic, but was also the first expedition to use biofuels extensively in Antarctica, and featured the first bio-fuelled vehicle ever to reach the South Pole.  Read More

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