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Science

A plastic material inspired by the leaves of the aquatic weed Salvinia molesta may lead to...

It may be an invasive weed that’s fouling waterways in the U.S., Australia and other countries, but it turns out that Salvinia molesta has at least one good point – it’s inspired a man-made coating that could help ships stay afloat. The upper surface of the floating plant’s leaves are coated with tiny water-repellent hairs, each of which is topped with a bizarre eggbeater-like structure. These hairs trap a layer of air against the leaf, reducing friction and providing buoyancy, while the eggbeaters grab slightly at the surrounding water, providing stability. Scientists at Ohio State University have successfully replicated these hairs in plastic, creating a buoyant coating that is described as being like “a microscopic shag carpet.”  Read More

Creating a plastic bag as a bio-container using electrically-charged plasma (Photo: Fraunh...

The humble Petri dish may soon be a thing of the past. A team of researchers in Germany have developed a new technique for treating plastic bags with plasmas to turn them into sealed, sterile containers suitable for microbiology work with much less chance of contamination than traditional containers. This holds the promise of not only decreasing the possibility of contamination in stem cell and live-cell therapy techniques, but also the potential for cultivating whole human organs for transplant surgery.  Read More

The prototype device, which is reportedly able to detect illicit drugs in a person's syste...

Fingerprints have been used to confirm or determine peoples' identities for over one hundred years now, but new technology is allowing them to be put to another use - drug testing. Intelligent Fingerprinting (a spin-off company affiliated with the UK's University of East Anglia) has just unveiled a prototype portable device that can detect the presence of illicit drugs or other substances in a person's system by analyzing the sweat in their fingerprints.  Read More

Front view of Curiosity Mars rover  (Image: NASA)

We've had our sights on NASA's Curiosity Rover (also known as the Mars Science Laboratory or MSL) for quite some time now. Well, it's finally ready and in a few short weeks, this amazingly advanced one-ton (900 kg) explorer will find itself atop a massive Atlas V rocket for the eight-month, 354 million-mile (570 million-km) trip to our red neighbor – the culmination of over seven years of development and US$2.5 billion in funding.  Read More

Scientists have created an 'electric car' that is only a few nanometers long (Image: Empa)...

We’ve seen some fairly small electric cars in recent years, such as those made by Tango, Think, Wheego, and of course, smart. All of those automobiles are absolute monsters, however, compared to what scientists from Swiss research group Empa have created. Working with colleagues at the Netherlands’ University of Groningen, they’ve built a one-of-a-kind electric car that measures approximately 4 x 2 nanometers.  Read More

The new super-black coating made from hollow carbon nanotubes prevents reflection because ...

When it comes to gathering measurements of objects so distant in the universe that they can no longer be seen in visible light, the smallest amount of stray light can play havoc with the sensitive detectors and other instrument components used by astronomers. Currently, instrument developers use black paint on baffles and other components to help prevent stray light ricocheting off surfaces, but the paint absorbs only 90 percent of the light that strikes it. NASA engineers have now developed a nanotech-based coating that absorbs on average more than 99 percent of the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared light that hits it, making it promising for a variety of space- and Earth-bound applications.  Read More

The original image on the left, the modified image in the middle, and the 'heat-map' produ...

From nude pictures of celebrities to politicians caught in compromising positions, verifying the authenticity of images online is often no easy task. To address this problem, a team at Duke University looking has developed software called YouProve that can be integrated into the Android operating system to track changes made to images or audio captured on an Android smartphone. The software then produces a non-forgeable "fidelity certificate" that uses a "heat-map" to summarize the degree to which various regions of the media have been modified compared to the original image.  Read More

The Earth's lights from space (Image: NASA)

It's difficult to look at the night sky and not wonder whether intelligent life exists out there. Indeed, the odds are very much in favor of there being countless civilizations scattered throughout the heavens, but the challenge remains in proving it. Recently, two scientists hit upon the novel but common-sense idea of searching for city lights on the dark side of distant worlds- a task advanced next-gen earth and space-based telescopes will likely be able to tackle in the not-too-distant future.  Read More

The Electric Potential Integrated Circuit (EPIC) sensor is capable of detecting minute cha...

Over the past ten years, scientists at the University of Sussex have been developing electric potential sensors, that could detect minute voltage changes in electrical fields from a distance. This October, England’s Plessey Semiconductors began shipping demo units of the commercialized product. Called the Electric Potential Integrated Circuit (EPIC) sensor, the device has several potential applications, not the least of which is its ability to deliver electrocardiogram (ECG) readings much less obtrusively than is currently possible.  Read More

Surrounded by other team members, Achim Oesert from the University of Kiel hangs from the ...

As is so often the case these days for those searching for a better way to stick stuff together, researchers from the Zoological Institute at the University of Kiel in Germany have turned to the biology of gravity-defying ceiling walkers, such as geckos and insects. These creatures served as inspiration for a new dry adhesive tape that not only boasts impressive bonding strength, but can also be attached and detached thousands of times without losing its adhesive properties.  Read More

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