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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.

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— Science

"Voltaglue" sticks in the wet and hardens when voltage is applied

By - August 26, 2015 2 Pictures

A glue that performs at a high-level in wet environments could bring about all sorts of possibilities in areas like surgical care and ship maintenance. A somewhat common approach to this problem has been trying to replicate the freakish ability of mussels to bind themselves to boats and jetties, but a team from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University is coming at it from a slightly different angle by developing a glue that hardens when an electrical charge is applied.

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— Drones

Drones take the legwork out of tracking radio-tagged wildlife

By - August 25, 2015 6 Pictures

Radio tags have made things easier for environmental scientists tracking animal movements, but they still involve spending a lot of time and money traipsing over land by foot in search of a signal. This is particularly pertinent for Australian National University's (ANU) Debbie Saunders, who has spent years trying to track small, evasive birds. But work is set to become easier for Saunders and her team, who have developed the first radio-tracking drone that locates radio-tagged wildlife in a fraction of the time of previous methods.

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— Holiday Destinations

Huilo Huilo: A night in Patagonia's fairytale eco-lodge

By - August 25, 2015 42 Pictures

After toiling away on gravel roads for about four hours we pulled over to ask an elderly Mapuche man for directions. We were undertaking a bumpy off-road adventure through Chile's southern Andes in search of one of the country's more remarkable eco-destinations – the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve. Home to bizarrely-shaped hotels crafted from local timber and surrounded by dense Patagonian rainforest and crashing waterways, this magical getaway stands tall as a beacon of sustainable architecture in one of the world's most pristine environments.

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— Environment Feature

How Chile's fogcatchers are bringing water to the driest desert on Earth

"It's easy for people in the cities. They don't have to think about it. They turn on the tap and they have water to wash and water to drink. Here, access to water is a much more complicated issue." Daniel Rojas might have been talking about any place on Earth where water is hard to come by, but his words have a particular salience in Peña Blanca, Chile. The remote, drought-stricken community lies on the fringes of an expanding Atacama Desert, the driest (non-polar) desert on Earth. Parts of this parched, desolate land have never seen a single drop of rain, but by using a cleverly designed system the locals are able to harvest the mist that rolls in from the Pacific for farming, preserving native vegetation, and even producing beer.

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— Science

Vomiting machine projects better understanding of how stomach bugs spread

By - August 21, 2015 2 Pictures

Norovirus is a nasty bug that brings about inflammation in the stomach and intestines leading to pain, nausea, diarrhea and sometimes even death. It affects around 20 million people per year in the US, but despite its rampant nature, questions remain over how exactly it is transmitted. To shed further light on how one of the world's most common pathogens spreads between humans, scientists have built a vomiting machine to study its behaviour when projected into the air.

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— Science

Sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere to create carbon nanofibers

By - August 20, 2015 2 Pictures

Carbon nanofibers hold tremendous potential. They may one day be put to use in tougher bulletproof vests, artificial muscles or rebuilding damaged hearts, just to name a few possibilities. But could the greatest gift these little wonders offer humanity be not what they bring into the world but what they take out of it? Scientists have developed a technique that could take the mounting carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and transform it into carbon nanofibers, resulting in raw materials for use in anything from sports gear to commercial airliners.

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— Environment

India's Cochin International to become world's first completely solar-powered airport

By - August 19, 2015 5 Pictures

It may not be the first airport to fit solar panels to its terminals, but India's Cochin International Airport is set to become the first in the world powered entirely by solar. Situated in Kochi, the airport handled 6.8 million passengers in the 2014-15 financial year and forecasts a 300,000-tonne (330,700-ton) reduction in carbon emissions over the next 25 years as a result of the switch to solar.

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— Health and Wellbeing

FDA ticks off on drug to boost female libido

By - August 18, 2015

The first ever prescription pill to boost women's libido has won the approval of US regulators. Addyi got the final nod from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday after three 24-week trials showed it to offer an increase in sexual desire in premenopausal women, though the agency does warn of side effects that include low blood pressure and fainting.

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— Environment

Project Sunroof calculates rooftop solar potential using Google Maps

By - August 18, 2015 2 Pictures

Ever balked at installing solar panels on your roof because it's pretty damn expensive or you're not sure how much power it would actually generate, or a combination of both? Well, a new venture from Google is aimed at taking the guesswork out of weaning your household off the grid. Powered by Google Maps, Project Sunroof can tell users how much sun is hitting their roof and how much they might be able to shave off their power bills.

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