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As it stands, there's not a whole lot we know about pain. Where a tissue or blood sample can be drawn and studied, our nervous system comprising different kinds of cells running signals through complex piping around the body presents a difficult task for scientific research. But a new study details a technique that turns blood cells into different nerve cells, promising to improve our understanding of why things itch or burn. By extension, it is hoped that it could lead to new forms of pain relief that do away with unwanted side effects such as sleepiness or loss of concentration.

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The humble ball bearing is a key component of nearly every device with moving parts, taking advantage of the vastly reduced friction you can achieve when rolling a ball between two surfaces as opposed to sliding them across one another. Now, a Japanese company has come up with a simple design that removes a key component from a typical bearing – the cage that keeps the balls separated as they roll around. Coo Space's Autonomous Decentralised Bearings don't need to be greased, and according to their inventor, this fact alone can reduce their friction by up to 90 percent compared with standard bearings.

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It's not uncommon for technology developed for the military to eventually find its way into consumer products, but the US Army is taking things in the other direction. In an effort to improve the safety of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, it is fitting them with electronic stability control (ESC) technology like that found in commercial vehicles for years.

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CubeSats, tiny satellites about the size of a loaf of bread or smaller, hold the promise of opening space up to low-budget space missions, but currently they're largely restricted to Low-Earth Orbit (LEO). To broaden the scope of these pint-sized spacecraft, NASA is developing its CubeSat Application for Planetary Entry Missions (CAPE) concept, which would see the development of miniature space probes that can be sent in fleets on interplanetary missions for multi-point sampling, as opposed to the bus-sized, do-it-all probes that are currently in service.

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Diabetic retinopathy is one of a number of nasty effects diabetes can have on the human body. The disease sees the development of leaky blood vessels in the eye that over time lead to permanent loss of vision. Though it is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in American adults, its progress can be slowed by certain drugs or laser treatment. But research has now uncovered a new protein found to drive the condition, raising the possibility of preventing it altogether.

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Using visible light magnified through a compound series of lenses to image small objects, standard optical microscopes have been with us for many centuries. Whilst continually being improved, the result of these many advances of optics and image-capturing techniques means that many high-end optical microscopes have now reached the limit of magnification possible as they push the resolution properties of light itself. In an attempt to resolve this issue, scientists at the University of Buffalo (UB) have created a prototype visible light "hyperlens" that may help image objects once only clearly viewable through electron microscopes.

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Devices like Smart Kapp and Livescribe's extensive line of clever pens are just some of the ways you can stream your scribbles to digital displays in real time. The thing is, though, they also require that you to write on certain purpose-built materials like whiteboards, dotted paper or even microwaveable notebooks. Looking to break free of these limitations is Israeli startup OTM Technologies – its Phree Bluetooth smartpen shoots a laser beam from its tip to allow you to write on just about any surface you like.

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After taking a look at the Jet Blade hydroplaning watercraft last week, we were alerted to another senior design project from Calvin College, Michigan. A different group of students has designed and prototyped a device they're calling the TheraTryke. Aimed at those with MS, spinal cord injuries, or complete paraplegics, it lets riders use their hands, feet or a combination of both together to propel themselves forward.

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Two hours west of the Atlanta airport is a five story, state of the art monument of glass, steel and concrete generally considered to be the finest motorcycle museum in the world. Designed by its founder, George Barber, to draw visitors from all over the globe to his home town of Birmingham, Alabama, those that make the trip to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum can immediately see they are witnessing a truly remarkable achievement. This is a place like no other.

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Although personal drones are becoming increasingly popular, a lot of people are still understandably intimidated by their exposed propellers. Not only can those whirling blades hurt people, but they also regularly get damaged in crashes. That's why Pasadena, California-based Polyhelo created the Nano Tornado. It's a quadcopter, but instead of open props it utilizes four ducted fans.

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