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Scientists are working on an underwater device that could facilitate two-way human-dolphin...

Despite his annoyingly cutesy synthetic voice, Darwin the Dolphin on the TV series SeaQuest DSV did present an intriguing possibility – what if we could create a dolphin language translator? Such a device may no longer be limited to the realm of science fiction, as two scientists are currently developing an underwater computer that they hope to someday use for two-way communications with wild dolphins.  Read More

Artist concept of NASA's Voyager spacecraft (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The last time we checked on the Voyager 1 & 2 they were hurtling towards the edge of the solar system at over 37,000 mph (60,000 km/h). The car-sized spacecraft are now and incredible 11 billion miles (17 billion km) and 8 billion miles (14 billion km) from Earth respectively – they are the longest continuously operated spacecraft in deep space and having traveled further than any man-made object, they will soon become the first to enter the realm of interstellar space. NASA recently held a briefing on the achievements of the program which gives us the opportunity to ponder where the Voyagers are, where they are going and the amazing scientific discoveries realized so far in their 33 year journey.  Read More

AnatOnMe project from Microsoft Research in use (All images courtesy of Amy K. Karlson, Da...

Having undergone some physical therapy myself, I can confirm that even though keeping to a prescribed exercise and treatment regimen helps the injury heal faster, the daunting prospect of self-administered discomfort has led me to ignore the advice of my practitioner. A team at Microsoft's research wing has developed a working prototype of a system that may help to encourage physical injury sufferers to do their exercises by giving them a clearer understanding of what's going on. A therapist would use the device to project a series of graphics of underlying bone, muscle tissue, tendons or nerves directly onto the body of a patient to help explain the nature of the injury and prescribe effective treatment. The device can also take photos during a consultation, which can be subsequently reviewed or printed out as a memory aid for the patient.  Read More

ZeroTouch is a prototype multi-touch system, in which users can touchlessly control applic...

Last November, German tech firm Evoluce unveiled a Kinect-based prototype multi-touch system that allows users to navigate through Windows 7 applications, simply by moving their hands in the air. While that system utilizes the Kinect unit’s RGB camera and depth sensor to track the user’s hands, a new technology developed at Texas A&M University's Interface Ecology Lab uses a matrix of infrared light beams to do essentially the same thing. It’s called ZeroTouch, and it was presented at last week’s 2011 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Vancouver.  Read More

A metallic glass rod before heating and molding (left); a molded metallic glass part (midd...

What do you do if you want a material that’s as hard as glass, but that can bend without shattering, like steel? Well, if you’re a researcher at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), you invent metallic glass. There are several types of metallic glass – which is said to be stronger than steel or titanium – all of which consist of a metal with the disordered atomic structure of glass. Although it’s been possible to produce the material in bulk since the early 90s, the production process has limitations, that have kept metallic glass from coming into common use. Now, however, a Caltech team has come up with a new process, in which the material can be shaped as easily as plastic.  Read More

A new sensor system incorporating protein found in bee venom can detect explosives down to...

Not only do bees play a vital role in agriculture by pollinating plants, but it now turns out that they may help keep us from getting blown up. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have shown that bombolitins, which are protein fragments found in bee venom, can be used to detect single molecules of nitro-aromatic explosives such as TNT. If used in sensors at locations such as airports, those sensors would be much more sensitive than those currently in use.  Read More

Richard Taylor is growing fractal nanoflowers from metal nanoparticles, that may someday b...

What do trees, rivers, clouds and neurons have in common? They're all examples of fractals, or irregularly-shaped objects in which any one component is the same shape as the whole – a tributary of a river, for instance, looks like a miniature river itself. Electronic chips are not fractals, yet some researchers are trying to restore sight to the blind by attaching such chips to the eye's neurons. Given that neurons are fractals, wouldn't it work better to hook them up to other fractal structures? University of Oregon researcher Richard Taylor thinks so, which is why he's developing metal "nanoflowers."  Read More

DermaFuse, a glass nanofiber material that looks like cotton candy, has been shown to spee...

Many diabetics suffer from a condition known as venous stasis, which can result in wounds on their extremities that remain unhealed for up to several years – if infection sets in, amputation of the limb is sometimes even necessary. Such wounds can sometimes be treated with vacuum-assisted systems, but the equipment required is expensive, and must be carried by the patient at all times. In clinical trials conducted last year, however, human venous stasis wounds were quickly and thoroughly healed with an inexpensive new glass nanofiber material, that looks like cotton candy.  Read More

A diagram depicting how a nanobead-equipped chemical assay device could work (Image: OSU)

Handheld biosensors and diagnostic devices could be taking a huge step forward, thanks to recent advances made in the use of ferromagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles – also known as magnetic nanobeads. According to scientists from Oregon State University (OSU), the use of such particles in chemical detection systems could make those systems much smaller, faster, cheaper to produce, and more accurate than they are presently.  Read More

Thai politics is one of those subjects which is so far beyond my comprehension that I no longer pay much attention. Until now that is, because one of the parties, the Pheu Thai Party, has announced a "one student, one tablet computer" campaign policy for the next election. If elected, the party will ensure every school has high speed internet access and Wi-Fi, and that every primary school student will be given a free tablet computer. The party plans to improve Thailand's long-term competitiveness by developing forward thinking educational strategies based on e-learning and the distribution of electronic text books via the internet.  Read More

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