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Fiber optic sensors may help reduce the death toll in landslides, by providing an early wa...

Landslides kill thousands of people every year, so it should come as no surprise that various systems have been developed in an effort to predict when they're about to occur. One of the most recent innovations, developed by scientists at Italy's Second University of Naples, utilizes fiber optics to create a sort of watchable "nervous system" of the slope that's being monitored.  Read More

Dr Vladlen Shvedov (left) and Dr Cyril Hnatovsky (right) with a magnified projection of th...

We're still a far cry from Star Trek's ship-towing and repelling technology, but laser physicists at the Australian National University (ANU) have built a tractor beam that can repel and attract objects. The beam moved spherical glass shells one fifth of a millimeter in diameter across a distance of up to 20 centimeters (7.87 in), which is around 100 times further than previous experiments at this scale, using only a single hollow laser beam that's bright around the edges and dark in its center.  Read More

Sugar kelp yields a lot of bio-oil – if you put the heat on (Photo: NOAA)

Biofuels may indeed offer a greener alternative to fossil fuels, but they do raise at least one concern – crops grown as biofuel feedstock could take up farmland and use water that would otherwise be used to grow crops for much-needed food. That's why some scientists have looked to seaweed as a feedstock. Kelp is particularly attractive, in that it's abundant and grows extremely quickly, although its fuel yields haven't been particularly impressive. That could be about to change, however, thanks to a newly-developed hydrothermal process.  Read More

Lockheed sees its compact fusion reactor as ready in 10 years

Fusion reactors are a bit like buses; you wait forever for one, then two come along at once. No sooner does the University of Washington announce that it’s working on a breakthrough compact fusion reactor (CFR) than Lockheed Martin says that its Revolutionary Technology Programs unit, AKA the Skunk Works, in Palmdale, California has one that could be ready for market within ten years.  Read More

Cigarette ash could now have another use besides ... well, nothing (Photo: Shutterstock)

In a perfect world, cigarette waste simply wouldn't exist. Given that it does, though, scientists have explored a number of methods of repurposing it – these have included using compounds from cigarette butts to store energy, make shipping pallets, and rust-proof steel. Now, researchers have shown that cigarette ash can be used as a low-cost means of filtering arsenic from water supplies. It's a little ironic, as cigarette smoke actually contains a dangerous amount of arsenic.  Read More

The direction of magnetic north suddenly reversed about 786,000 years ago, with new resear...

A new study by a team of scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrates that the Earth's magnetic field could change polarity in less than 100 years. The last magnetic reversal occurred some 786,000 years ago and was previously thought to have taken several thousand years but, if the researchers are right, the real time it may take for the flip to occur could actually be closer to the span of a human life.  Read More

You can tell a lot about a dolphin by its breath (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you want to get a picture of wild dolphin populations' health, it's typically necessary to capture some of the animals and then obtain blood samples or skin biopsies. Needless to say, it's hard work, and the dolphins tend not to like it. Soon, however, it may be possible to gather the same information using a device that samples their breath.  Read More

3D image of a shoe print with a color-based depth gauge produced using a new 3D mapping de...

Using an enhanced LADAR (Laser Detection And Ranging) system, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created a long-range, laser-based imaging device that can generate high-definition 3D maps of objects at distances of up to 10.5 m (35 ft). The technology could find applications in precision machining and assembly, as well as in forensics where it could map evidence non-destructively.  Read More

Artist's impression of an electron wave in a crystal of nuclear-spin-free silicon-28 atoms...

In what are claimed to be new world records, two teams working in parallel at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia have each found solutions to problems facing the advancement of silicon quantum computers. The first involves processing quantum data with an accuracy above 99 percent, while the second is the ability to store coherent quantum information for more than thirty seconds. Both of these records represent milestones in the eventual realization of super-powerful quantum computers.  Read More

An array of nanoscale pillars ('nanograss') structure could make organic solar cells more ...

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Stanford University and the Dresden University of Technology have developed a long sought-after nanostructure that can significantly increase the efficiency of organic solar cells. Their "nanograss," a dense array of vertical nanopillars, can capture photons at a very high efficiency and could also lead to cheaper and more advanced 3D transistors, photodetectors and charge storage devices.  Read More

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