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Science

Mussels have an incredible ability to cling to wet surfaces. It's an ability that scientists are trying to replicate for use in man-made adhesives. That adhesion can't be turned on and off as needed, however, limiting its potential applications. That's where the Northern clingfish comes in. It can suck onto rough, slimy surfaces, supporting up to 150 times its own body weight when lifted. That said, it can also just let go and swim away whenever it wants. Scientists from the University of Washington now understand how it's able to do so, and are looking at applying the principle to fields such as surgery and whale-tracking.

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Restarting the world's largest particle accelerator after a two-year overhaul isn't just a matter of throwing a switch and making sure the lights go on. It's an eight-week process of baby steps – one's that involve billions of electron volts. But the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) took a major step forward this week as the CERN team fired up two counter-rotating proton beams that were injected into the LHC using the Super Proton Synchrotron, then accelerated to an energy of 450 GeV each.

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If you've ever seen a bat in flight, then you'll know how quickly and precisely they can maneuver. Scientists from Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the University of Maryland have now uncovered one of the key factors that allows them to do so – and it could have applications in the design of aircraft.

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In science, things can move quickly and once-vaunted instruments are often left by the wayside. Bonhams auction houses around the world regularly scoop 'em up and dust 'em off, inviting the technologically curious to take a little stroll through the history of scientific achievement and invest in what we've previously argued is one of the most undervalued collectibles marketplaces. Bonhams' upcoming Scientific, Technological and Mechanical Musical Instrument auction in London will showcase a range of rare and unique collectibles, with amputating saws and hand-cranked mechanical calculators all part of the mix.

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Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have built a cheap 3D-printed attachment able to turn smartphones into sophisticated microscopes. Armed with the new device, a smartphone would be able to detect single DNA strands and analyze them to diagnose diseases including cancer and Alzheimer’s without bulky and expensive equipment. Read More
Researchers at the Pusan National University in South Korea have developed an advanced light shutter that can rapidly switch between transparency and opaqueness in less than a millisecond, paving the way for displays that become see-through at the flick of a switch. Read More
Brown University researchers have developed a new method for making solar cells from perovskite. Unlike existing techniques, the new method doesn't require the application of heat, and can produce highly efficient, thinner versions of the light-absorbing films. Read More
A new nanoscale plasmon laser developed at Northwestern University changes color in real time through a process as simple as swapping one liquid dye for another. The scientists responsible for the technology claim this is the world's first liquid nanoscale laser, and it could find uses in medical diagnostics as well as military or security applications. Read More
IBM scientists have unveiled two crucial advances toward the creation of a practical quantum computer: an effective way to detect and correct quantum errors, and the design of a silicon chip that can scale up to house a large number of entangled quantum bits. Read More
Researchers at the University of Wollongong, Australia have created a 3D printer-compatible hydrogel that is mechanically tough and able to repeatedly change shape in response to water temperature. The scientists have demonstrated the technology by 3D-printing an autonomous water valve, but the material could also be used to create soft robots, custom designed sensors and self-assembling macrostructures. Read More
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