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World's first "aqueous solar flow battery" outperforms traditional lithium-iodine batteries

By - August 3, 2015 3 Pictures

The scientists that revealed the "world's first solar battery" last year are now, following some modifications, reporting its first significant performance milestone. The device essentially fits a battery and solar cell into the one package, and has now been tested against traditional lithium-iodine batteries, over which the researchers are claiming energy savings of 20 percent.

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Imaging tool lets scientists look inside brain at nanoscale resolution

By - August 1, 2015 5 Pictures

The human brain contains more synapses than there are galaxies in the observable universe (to put a number on it, there are perhaps 100 trillion synapses versus 100 billion galaxies), and now scientists can see them all – individually. A new imaging tool promises to open the door to all sorts of new insights about the brain and how it works. The tool can generate images at a nanoscale resolution, which is small enough to see all cellular objects and many of their sub-cellular components (so for the biology-literate, that's stuff like neurons and the synapses that permit them to fire, plus axons, dendrites, glia, mitochondria, blood vessel cells, and so on).

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Insect-inspired amphibious robot jumps like a water strider

By - July 31, 2015 3 Pictures

Despite what our science fiction-fueled imaginations love to be entertained with, there is more to the field of modern robotics than colossal combat machines or bionic baristas. Some projects may seem mundane by comparison, yet the results are no less impressive, especially the ones that enlighten through the process. Although it took a few trial and error attempts, scientists have finally created an insect-inspired robot that can jump off of water's surface.

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Earth's magnetic field may be more than 750 million years older than previously thought

By - July 31, 2015 1 Picture

The Earth's magnetic field is crucial to life on the planet. It keeps out harmful solar winds, which would strip away our atmosphere and surface water and bombard us with radiation if left unchecked. A new analysis of zircon minerals suggests that the field originated at least 4.2 billion years ago – a hop after the planet formed in the geological timeline, and much earlier than previously thought.

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Slaughterhouse waste could be made into yarn

By - July 30, 2015 2 Pictures

Ever since the late 19th century, people have experimented with making textiles from natural-source-based gelatine, as a cheaper and less allergenic alternative to wool. Although the emergence of synthetic fibers largely put an end to that, a new technique may yet allow gel-based yarn to see the spotlight. The fiber is said to have an insulation quality similar to that of Merino wool, and the collagen used to produce it can be obtained from waste at animal-processing facilities.

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Nanoscale device emits light as bright as an object 10,000 times its size

By - July 28, 2015 1 Picture

Amplifying light a few hundred times with magnifying lenses is easy. Amplifying light by altering the resonant properties of light itself is a much more difficult proposition. However, if recent research by engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers is anything to go by, the effort is well worth it: They claim to have constructed a nanoscale device that can emit light as powerfully as an object more than 10,000 times its size.

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