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Nick Lavars

Nick Lavars

Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches.

Follow Nick:

— Urban Transport

Souped-up mobility scooter rockets into the record books at 107 mph

Here's one for seniors living life in the fast lane. Through around six months of tinkering, a pair of English mechanics has turned a humble old mobility scooter into a high-octane, rubber-burning speed machine. The souped-up four-wheeler was put to the test at a racetrack in the Isle of Man and claimed the Guinness World Record for the fastest mobility scooter ever built with a speed of 107.6 mph (173.16 km/h).

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— Energy

China's experimental fusion reactor maintains superheated hydrogen plasma for 102 seconds

A bit of friendly competition never hurt anyone. China's EAST tokamak and Germany's Wendelstein 7-X aren't exactly fusion energy's answer to Messi and Ronaldo, but through their own flashes of individual brilliance the reactors might one day command the world's attention in a much more important way. Wendelstein 7-X made headlines last week after generating a quarter-of-a-second pulse of hydrogen plasma, and now scientists at China's Institute of Physical Science have reportedly flexed their fusion muscle to sustain the gas for an impressive 102 seconds.

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— Drones

Parrot's multispectral crop monitoring sensor can be retrofitted to existing drones

Drones have certainly emerged as promising tool in agriculture, with several groups including MIT and DJI announcing crop-monitoring unmanned aircraft inside the last year. But what if you've already got a perfectly good drone capable of taking long, automated flights over your farmland? Parrot has just announced a sensor attachment that can be slapped on old drones to take infrared pictures and help farmers work out the areas in need of attention.

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— Medical

Laser-based blood glucose monitor promises a less prickly way to keep diabetes in check

For a number of years now, various research groups have been examining the potential for lasers applied to the skin to measure blood-glucose levels in an effort to put an end to the daily finger-pricks and meticulous blood sampling performed by diabetics. Japanese scientists have now developed one such system that differs from previous techniques by relying on far infrared light, which the researchers say is harmless and offers unprecedented levels of accuracy.

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— Energy

Battery anodes made from pollen are nothing to sneeze at

As our dependence on mobile devices grows and we continue the shift to electric vehicles, there is a need to not only develop better performing batteries but find more accessible and sustainable materials with which to build them. To this end, researchers have now developed an anode for lithium-ion batteries using something those with allergies certainly wouldn't miss: pollen from bees and cattails.

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— Energy

Sodium battery contains solution to water desalination

Much scientific effort goes into shoring up both our energy and water supplies for the future, but what if both problems could be addressed by the same technology? Researchers at the University of Illinois have come up with a new battery design that not only relies on salt water to store and release electricity, but removes the salt ions from the water in the process.

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— Automotive

Samsung's transparent Safety Truck hits the road en route to global rollout

Craning your neck to check for oncoming traffic can be a futile exercise when you're trailing a mammoth semi-trailer on a single lane highway. If only you could see through that huge mass of moving steel, right? After a trial last year, Samsung has again taken a "transparent" Safety Truck to the roads of Argentina for further testing, with a view to expanding the technology globally later in the year.

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— Energy

Germany's Wendelstein 7-X fusion reactor produces its first flash of hydrogen plasma

Experimentation with Germany's newest fusion reactor is beginning to heat up, to temperatures of around 80 million degrees Celsius, to be precise. Having fired up the Wendelstein 7-X to produce helium plasma late last year, researchers have built on their early success to generate its first hydrogen plasma, an event they say begins the true scientific operation of the world's largest fusion stellarator.

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