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Microscope image of a single-cell living laser in action - its irregular internal structur...

While laser beam-shooting plants or animals might seem like something straight out of Star Trek, two researchers from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital recently wondered whether such organisms could theoretically exist. In order to satisfy their curiosity, Dr. Malte Gather and Dr. Seok Hyun Yun successfully created a laser that uses a living cell as its light source. The device, which utilizes a protein found in jellyfish, could have applications in the fields of biomedicine and optical computing.  Read More

The Flash Bainite steel heat-treatment process

Having been around for a few centuries, steel is what is known as a “mature technology” and the basic process of heat-treating has remained largely unchanged in the modern age. So when self-taught metallurgist Gary Cola approached engineers at Ohio State University claiming to have found a way to increase the strength of steel by seven percent, they were justifiably skeptical. However, after the engineers tested steel produced using the new method, Cole’s claims were borne out and the engineers set about understanding what was happening.  Read More

Scientists have successfully obtained human breast milk from genetically altered cattle (P...

According to a recent report on Sky News, Chinese scientists have created a herd of 300 transgenic dairy cattle, all of which have been genetically modified to produce human breast milk. While the milk is still undergoing government testing, the researchers reportedly hope to be selling it in supermarkets within three years.  Read More

The quantum tip's ultra-cold cloud of atoms (yellow) is contained in a magnetic trap and s...

When trying to see objects that are too small for optical microscopes to image, scientists often turn to scanning probe microscopes. Instead of a lens, these instruments have a tiny suspended tip, that moves up and down as it makes contact with the object’s surface. An image, which can reveal details as small as one millionth of a millimeter, is obtained by scanning that probe back and forth across the object. Scientists from Germany’s Universitaet Tübingen have now taken scanning probe microscopy a step farther, by creating a probe made not from a solid material, but from a gas of atoms – this “quantum tip” is said to increase the resolution of images beyond what has so far been possible.  Read More

Scientists have created a metallic material that can switch back and forth between hard an...

We may not yet have the liquid metal depicted in the Terminator movies, but scientists have now developed something that’s vaguely along the same lines. German materials scientist Dr. Jörg Weißmüller and Chinese research scientist Hai-Jun Jin have created a metallic material that can change back and forth between being strong but brittle and soft but malleable, via electrical signals.  Read More

CERN's antiproton decelerator, which was used to trap the antihydrogen atoms (Photo: Maxim...

Researchers involved in the ALPHA experiment at Switzerland’s CERN complex announced yesterday (June 5) that they have succeeded in using the facility's antiproton decelerator to trap antimatter atoms for 1,000 seconds – or just over 16 minutes. This was reportedly enough time to begin studying their properties in detail, which has been the goal of ALPHA since the project began in 2005.  Read More

Brain-implanted polymer-coated electrodes could be used to detect and prevent seizures (Im...

In the future, people who are prone to seizures may get an array of electrodes implanted in their brains. These electrodes would be capable of detecting the onset of a seizure, and then releasing medication to prevent it from happening. While it might sound far-fetched, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have already demonstrated the technology on lab rats.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image of a pattern imprinted on nanoporous gold, using DIPS...

Imagine how long it would have taken to produce vinyl record albums if, instead of pressing them from master molds, the grooves had to be etched into each individual LP? Well, that's pretty much been the case when it comes to creating devices from porous nanomaterials - the microscopic patterns necessary for their functioning have had to be applied to each individual nanodevice, requiring considerable time and a perfect environment. Now, however, researchers from Nashville's Vanderbilt University have developed a system for quickly stamping out whole batches of the devices.  Read More

Minty Geek has developed a collection of electronic circuit-building projects, and put all...

Electronics-loving orthodontic clinician Dr. Mark Brickley has developed a collection of electronic circuit-building experiments, tested them on unsuspecting colleagues, and then squeezed them into a retro mint tin. After a few refinements, the Minty Geek Electronics Lab 101 kit was recently launched at the Maker Faire in Newcastle, UK. I spent a very productive few hours getting to grips with my inner geek and experiencing a genuine sense of achievement as I managed to create a morse code generator and an alarm that alerts me when someone opens the lid of my cashbox.  Read More

Pix4D is a program that creates 3D aerial images by combining hundreds of 2D photographs, ...

While Google Earth can be extremely useful - not to mention a lot of fun - it now has some competition in the form of Pix4D. Instead of satellites, the imaging system uses a small, relatively inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to acquire several hundred 2D photographs of a given geographical area. Those photos are then merged into one image, which users can explore in three dimensions on a computer screen.  Read More

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