Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Richard Moss

Richard Moss
Richard is a freelance writer and journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. He’s contributed to Ars Technica, Edge Magazine, Polygon, and many other publications. When not writing or trying to read the entire internet, you’ll likely find him dancing, playing games, dabbling in creative stuff, or learning about whatever catches his eye.
Top Articles by Richard Moss
Multi-sensory 3D maps give spoken directions and building information when touched, along ...

Getting around unfamiliar public spaces can be tough even with all your senses, but if you can't see where you're going it's downright intimidating. A new multi-sensory model promises a brighter future, though, with 3D maps that give spoken directions and building information when touched. The technology comes courtesy of a collaboration between tactile-graphics company Touch Graphics and the University of Buffalo's Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), and while it was designed specifically to help visually-impaired people, it's also meant to show off the potential of tangible touch interfaces.  Read More

A view through the channels of the new zeolite-type allotrope of silicon (Image: Timothy S...

You probably wouldn't be reading this if it weren't for silicon. It's the second most-abundant element in the Earth's crust as well as the key to modern technology – used in the integrated circuits that power such electronics as computers, mobile phones, and even some toasters and refrigerators. It's also used in compound form in building, ceramics, breast implants, and many other areas. And now the ubiquitous element may have a plethora of new applications, thanks to a team of Carnegie scientists who synthesized an allotrope (new/different physical form) with the chemical formula Si24.  Read More

New research suggests that during the Big Bang, the curving of space-time – gravity – held...

Not only does gravity keep us safely on the ground and hold the planets in alignment, but now it may soon get the credit for saving the whole universe. Physicists at the Imperial College London and the Universities of Copenhagen and Helsinki believe that the interaction between Higgs boson particles and gravity had a stabilizing effect on the very early universe, thereby preventing the Big Crunch – a catastrophic collapse into nothing – from occurring shortly after the Big Bang.  Read More

It isn't quite a match for the Nike MAGs from Back to the Future II, but the Powerlace aut...

Auto-lacing shoes are here, finally. And pretty well right on schedule. Thirty years after Back to the Future II sold the world on the concept in a fictional 2015, a startup called Powerlace in St Hubert, Canada has created a shoe that's claimed will pave the way for a paradigm shift in the shoe industry. The company's system uses a pressure plate in the heel to tighten shoes and a level at the lower rear end to release them, with an adjustment puller near the tongue.  Read More

The Afkar project may lead to autonomous cars that could drive themselves to owners or ren...

A team of engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are developing a robotic system for electric cars that can independently find its way around unknown spaces, navigating around obstacles in order to find its goal. It is hoped that it will soon be capable of finding a parking space or charging station and parking there, safely without a single scratch.  Read More

A high-resolution simulation of the global climate provides a much better representation o...

High-resolution simulations of the global climate can now perform much closer to actual observations, and they perform far better at reproducing extreme weather events, a new Berkeley Lab study has found. Lead author Michael Wehner heralds this news as evidence of a golden age in climate modeling, as not only did the simulation closer match reality but it also took a fraction as long to complete as it would have in recent history – just three months compared to several years.  Read More

Natural vibrations caused by two surfaces with different work functions repelling and attr...

Electrical energy is normally generated through heat, motion, nuclear transformation, or chemical reactions, but now scientists at VTT Technical Research Center of Finland have devised a new method that involves mechanical vibrations. They figured out how to "harvest" the vibrational energy that occurs naturally when two surfaces with different work functions are connected via electrodes, and this energy could potentially be used to power wearables and other low-power electronics.  Read More

A genetically-inherited microbe naturally found in the gut that is more common in thin peo...

A new study has determined that not only are bacteria naturally found in the gut involved in obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, but they are genetically inherited. Researchers at King's College London and Cornell University identified a highly-heritable bacterial family that is more common in individuals with low body weight and that could pave the way for genetics-based personalized probiotic therapies for obesity-related diseases.  Read More

A new prototype device determines whether a prostate tissue sample is benign or malignant ...

European research organization Fraunhofer is set to present a prototype device for quickly diagnosing prostate cancer at the COMPAMED trade fair in Düsseldorf next week. Its creators claim that it can reliably determine whether changed tissue in the prostate is benign or malignant within just a minute-and-a-half, thanks to an on-board visual analysis of a sample gathered via biopsy.  Read More

Scientists at Berkeley Lab believe that synthetic biology techniques could produce a signi...

The secret to pulling off long-term manned space missions is biomanufacturing – at least, that's the argument presented by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) who have used synthetic biology to produce sustainable alternatives to fuel and anti-malaria drugs. Their theory rests on the idea that biological production processes and harnessing of materials at the mission destination could dramatically reduce mass (and hence cost) requirements.  Read More

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