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Spy Gear

Researchers create invisibility cloak for sound

Many of the current experimental "invisibility cloaks" are based around the same idea - light coming from behind an object is curved around it and then continues on forward to a viewer. That person is in turn only able to see what's behind the object, and not the object itself. Scientists from Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have applied that same principle to sound waves, and created what could perhaps be described as a "silence cloak."Read More

Automotive

Korea gets its first production electric vehicle - the Kia Ray EV

Korea might be home to a couple of the world's biggest automakers in Hyundai and Kia but, with the exception of concept cars, it isn't until now that the country has launched an electric vehicle. Intended exclusively for the Korean market, the Kia Ray EV shares the same dimensions as the Ray CUV (crossover utility vehicle) that was launched last month, but instead of a 1.0-liter gasoline engine, the car is powered by a 50 kW electric motor and a 16.4 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack that gives it a range of up to 139 km (86 miles) on a single charge. Read More

Mobile Technology Review

Review: Kindle Touch

The Amazon Kindle Touch is quite a remarkable little machine. In many ways, it can be seen as a halfway point between the Fourth Generation Kindle e-Reader and the Kindle Fire Tablet. However, it's not simply a glorified reader, nor is it a stripped down tablet. Rather, it is another way in which Amazon is building on its lead in the e-Reader market by optimizing the reader interface and user controls. With the Kindle Touch sure to find its way under many a tree this holiday season we put the device through its paces with a hands-on review.Read More

Environment

Researchers develop cheap and easy to mass-produce "solar-paint"

A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana is reporting the creation of a "solar paint" that could mark an important milestone on the road to widespread implementation of renewable energy technology. Although the new material is still a long way off the conversion efficiencies of commercial silicon solar cells, the researchers say it is cheap to make and can be produced in large quantities.Read More

Holiday Destinations

The first plus-energy hotel in the Swiss Alps

The Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl located in Switzerland has recently been awarded the highly-coveted Swiss Solar Award 2011, Milestone 2011 Tourism Award and the PlusEnergieBau (PEB) Solar Award 2011, the only prize in the world for buildings that generate more energy than they consume. The 104-year old Berghotel underwent extensive renovations during 2010 to transform it into an environmental-friendly location, giving rise to the first plus-energy hotel in the Alps. The hotel's recent success demonstrates that luxury accommodation can be implemented within the framework of a plus-energy building concept even at 2,456 meters (8,058 ft) above sea level.Read More

Electronics

Self-healing electronics may result in less expensive, longer-lasting devices

A hard material is impregnated with microcapsules that burst when the material cracks, releasing a stored liquid that hardens on contact with the air, thus repairing the crack ... it’s a system that we’ve recently seen used in a number of applications, including self-healing concrete and polymers. Now, a research team from the University of Illinois is applying it to electronics. They have already created a system that automatically restores conductivity to a cracked circuit in just a fraction of a second.Read More

Science

Alternative tech could lead to cheaper fuel cells

While fuel cells show a lot of promise for cleanly powering things such as electric cars, there’s something keeping them from being more widely used than they currently are – they can be expensive. More specifically, the catalysts used to accelerate the chemical processes within them tend to be pricey. Work being done at Finland’s Aalto University, however, should help bring down the cost of fuel cells. Using atomic layer deposition (ALD), researchers there are making cells that incorporate 60 percent less catalyst material than would normally be required.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

New plasma "brush" may mean painless cavity filling

We've been keeping an eye on efforts to make the dreaded dentist's drill a thing of the past for some time, and now there's more good news on the horizon for the cavity-prone (and pain-phobic). Engineers at the University of Missouri (MU) in conjunction with Nanova, Inc. have successfully lab-tested a plasma "brush" that can painlessly clean and prep cavities so well, there's no need for mechanical abrasion prior to filling. The really good news is that human clinical trials begin soon and, if all goes well, the device could hit dentist's offices as soon as late 2013.Read More

Good Thinking

MIT database could revolutionize materials research

Remember what it was like in the days before the internet, if you were trying to find out something specific? If you wanted know what flounders eat, for instance, you would have to physically go to the library, look up “marine biology” in the card catalogue, find the appropriate books in the stacks, look up “flounder” in their indexes – and even then, you might not find what you were looking for. It was certainly a lot more work than just typing in “flounder diet” on Google. Well, materials research so far has been kind of like that pre-Google era, in that scientists have had to spend months conducting research in order to determine how different compounds will react with one another. With the launch of MIT’s Materials Project website, however, it looks like that could be about to change.Read More

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