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A subject's position is tracked by a WiTrack system (screen at lower left) located in anot...

Microsoft's Kinect system is certainly impressive, but now that we've had a chance to get used to it and start taking it for granted, it does have one problem – you have to stay located in front of it. MIT's new WiTrack system, however, can track users' movements even when those people are in another room. Among other things, this could allow for video games in which the players run all over their house.  Read More

Roman lead ingot from the Bou Ferrer shipwreck (Photo: Directorate-General de Cultura, Ali...

The study of archaeology has long been carried out using tools from the physics lab. Among these are carbon-14 dating, thermoluminescence dating, x-ray photography, x-ray fluorescence elemental analysis, CAT and MRI scanning, ground-penetrating sonar and radar, and many others. What is less well known is that archaeology has also made substantial contributions to physics. This is the story of old lead; why it is important to physics, and what ethical problems it presents to both sciences.  Read More

An X-ray of a human wrist demonstrates the system's ability to reveal soft-tissue structur...

X-ray machines are all large devices that can only image hard structures such as bone, unless a contrast-enhancing solution such as barium is present in the patient ... right? Well, no, not all of them. A new system developed by researchers at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital is small enough to be considered portable, doesn't expose patients to as much radiation, and can image soft tissues in minute detail.  Read More

A new test is able to genetically discriminate between 'identical' twins (Photo: Shutterst...

Although they only account for around three in every thousand deliveries, monozygotic, or "identical" twins are fertile fodder for crime writers and cop shows. This isn't surprising considering that DNA fingerprint testing is not able to genetically differentiate between the good and evil twin. But now German-based company Eurofins MWG Operon says it has found a way to do just that.  Read More

Foul-smelling, toxic mosquito repellent could soon become a thing of the past  (Photo: Shu...

Methods for controlling mosquitoes usually take two tacks: luring the mosquitoes into a trap away from humans, or discouraging them from biting at the source. Both methods can be expensive, unhealthy, cumbersome, or disgusting (the smell of rancid butter, anyone?) and generally aren’t scalable for the countries that suffer the most from mosquito-borne disease. New research explores how a mosquito’s neurons actually detect humans, and presents a promising class of chemicals, screened for safety, cost, and an appealing scent, some of which attract mosquitoes and others of which mask the smell of tasty human skin.  Read More

Scientists convert human embryonic stem cells into functional lung epithelial cells (green...

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have transformed human stem cells into functional lung cells, paving the way for ultimately creating bioengineered lungs using the patient's own cells. Besides being able to generate lung tissue for transplants, these cells could also be used to study lung development and potentially find more advanced treatments for lung diseases.  Read More

Silkworms chowing down on one of their favorite foods – mulberry leaves  (Photo: Shutterst...

Like most other fabrics, silk is colored with dye. Unfortunately, the dyeing process results in wastewater laden with toxins. Now, however, scientists from the National Chemical Laboratory in India are developing an alternative. They're feeding dye to silkworms, which in turn are producing pre-colored silk fibers.  Read More

The pomelo can take a pummeling (Photo: Shutterstock)

Here's an interesting fact about the pomelo fruit: even though a mature fruit can weigh up to 2 kg (4.4 lb), they remain intact after falling from heights of over 10 meters (33 ft). The secret lies in the structure of their peel. Scientists have copied that structure, to produce a new type of aluminum composite that's stronger than straight aluminum.  Read More

Shimizu's Luna Ring proposes an  an array of solar cells around the moon's equator to harv...

A Japanese firm has come up with the idea of constructing an array of solar cells around the Moon's equator to harvest solar energy and beam it back to Earth. The Shimizu Corporation proposes creating a "Luna Ring" using materials derived from lunar soil along its 11,000-km (6,800-mile) equator. The plan involves starting with an array that's a few kilometers wide and eventually increasing that to around 400 km (250 miles).  Read More

The RainCars project's lab setup

Rain gauges are generally pretty accurate at measuring the amount of precipitation that has fallen at their location, but they can't be everywhere. This means that average rainfall figures for a region could be inaccurate, if considerably more or less rain has been falling in unmonitored areas. Cars, however, are just about everywhere that there are roads. With that in mind, researchers from Germany's University of Hanover are looking at using them to tell us how much water is coming from the sky.  Read More

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