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Biocrude produced using the new process

Engineers at the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have created a continuous process that produces useful crude oil minutes after harvested algae is introduced. This new process does not require drying out the algae, which grows in water, saving time and energy that would be otherwise wasted. The final product can be refined into aviation fuel, diesel, or gasoline.  Read More

A liquid crystal 'flower' under magnification (Photo: University of Pennsylvania)

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have grown liquid crystal flowers, making it possible to create lenses as complex as the compound eye of a dragonfly. When perfected, the technology could allow the growth of lenses on curved surfaces, and structures to be assembled out of liquid crystals to build new materials, smart surfaces, microlens arrays and advanced sensors.  Read More

Bioinspired magnetically propelled helical microswimmers could deliver drugs at the right ...

If you remember the 1966 science fiction film Fantastic Voyage, you'll recall how miniaturized government agents traveled through blood vessels in a tiny submarine, in their attempt remove a blood clot from a scientist's brain. Synthetic nanomotors that can do the same job have been the subject of numerous research efforts and now University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers report that they've created powerful biodegradable "microswimmers" that can deliver drugs more precisely, derived from common plants like passion fruit and wild banana.  Read More

Scientists have demonstrated a new type of robotic muscle with 1,000 times more power than...

If a so-called "rise of the machines" ever comes to fruition, our chances of survival may have just taken a big hit. A team of scientists from the US Department of Energy ’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has demonstrated a new type of robotic muscle with 1,000 times more power than that of a human's, and the ability to catapult an item 50 times its own weight.  Read More

By restoring communication between a cell’s mitochondria (shown here from a mammalian lung...

With the wide-ranging benefits of reducing disease and enabling a longer, healthier life, reversing the causes of aging is a major focus of much medical research. A joint project between the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and Harvard Medical School that restored communication within animal cells has the potential to do just that, and maybe more. With the researchers hoping to begin human clinical trials in 2014, some major medical breakthroughs could be just around the corner.  Read More

A US$30,000 grant will see human stem cells sent to the International Space Station (ISS) ...

A drawback for the use of stem cells in medical treatment is their limited supply due to slow rate of growth in conventional laboratories. Dr Abba Zubair of the Cell Therapy Laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Florida believes this problem could be overcome and stem cell generation sped up by conducting the process in space. He will now have the opportunity to put his hypothesis to the test, courtesy of a US$30,000 grant that will see Zubair send human stem cells to the International Space Station (ISS) to observe whether they do in fact grow at a greater rate than on terra firma.  Read More

A molecular messaging system capable of transmitting data over several meters has been bui...

A molecular messaging system capable of transmitting data over several meters has been built using off-the-shelf materials costing around US$100 and some vodka. The system mimics chemical signalling seen in nature and has potential applications for communications in environments not compatible with conventional wireless technologies, such as underwater, in tunnels and pipelines, as well as at the nano scale and within the body.  Read More

Southwest Airlines has installed water vapor sensing systems on many of its aircraft (Phot...

Every 12 hours, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launches weather balloons from approximately 70 locations across the US. While these do provide valuable data, a lot can change between those intervals and those locations. That's why a new project is taking advantage of something that's already going up in the sky on a much more frequent basis and in a higher number of locations – Southwest Airlines jets.  Read More

Software developed at MIT subtly alters photos to make faces either more (right) or less (...

Lots of people wish that they were more attractive, but have you ever wanted to just look more ... memorable? Just a few tweaks here and there, to help keep your face from being forgotten? Well, software created by researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory can now make that happen – to photos of your face, that is.  Read More

The AWB OneSky is aimed at beginners (Photo: Astronomers Without Borders)

Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) is a nonprofit organization aimed at knocking down national and cultural boundaries by encouraging a common interest in astronomy. Along with their message that we all share one sky, AWB is now selling a neat little grab-n-go telescope called OneSky. The scope is perfectly suited for a quick look at the heavens from the backyard, as well as for throwing in the car before heading to darker skies. I'm reviewing this scope, and it is a prize for the price.  Read More

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