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A human artist's sketch (left), and the computer's attempt at a drawing of the same face d...

Last year, we heard about an industrial robot that was able to create pencil sketches of human subjects. In that case, it utilized algorithms that identified the boundaries between areas of high and low contrast on each subject’s face. Now, however, scientists at Disney Research, Pittsburgh, have taken things a bit further. They’ve created a computer tool that not only produces digital sketches, but it also copies the style of specific human artists as it does so.  Read More

Pitch drop caught in the act of falling in the Trinity College experiment (Photo: Trinity ...

Is pitch a liquid or a solid? It turns out that while it appears to be a solid at room temperature, it actually flows like a liquid ... a very, very viscous liquid. Why is this interesting? One of the world's longest running experiments, which began nearly 70 years ago at Trinity College Dublin, has now recorded the fall of a drop of pitch on video for the first time.  Read More

The movement of levitated objects - here a toothpick - is possible by varying the acoustic...

With the exception of magic, the process of levitating objects generally relies on magnetism or electric fields. However, sound waves can also be used to cancel out the effects of gravity to suspend objects and droplets of liquid in mid air. For the first time, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) have been able to control the movement of such levitating objects. Besides looking cool, the technology has implications for the study of various chemical reactions and biological processes and the development and production of pharmaceuticals and electronics.  Read More

The Samsung GT-E2121B mobile phone that researchers powered with urine

If asked what would be a great power source for mobile phones, it’s a fair bet that most people wouldn't make urine their first choice. But that's exactly what a group of scientists at Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK have done. As part of a project to find new ways to provide electricity for small devices in emergency situations and developing countries they have created a new fuel cell system powered by pee.  Read More

Principal Investigator John Hagopian and his team have developed a new technique to apply ...

Super-black nanotechnology might sound like something ripped from the pages of a comic book, but instead of being in the hands of a super-villain, it's a NASA-researched technology that is set to make spacecraft instruments more sensitive without increasing their size. John Hagopian, an optics engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and his team have demonstrated the ability to grow a uniform layer of carbon nanotubes on oddly shaped platforms, which will extend the potential of the technology by allowing nanotubes to be grown on 3D components.  Read More

Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory is developing 2D objects that can give themselves an extr...

Sure, flat-pack furniture is inexpensive and easy to transport, but when you open the box the first question almost everyone asks is, “Wouldn't it be great if it would assemble itself?” You could get a robot to help, but engineers at the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory are working on ways to get objects to assemble themselves ... and they might give 3D printing a run for its money at the same time.  Read More

The LIGA2.X jigsaw puzzle (Image: Jochen Heneka, KIT)

It may consist of only three pieces, but at under a millimeter in size each, we imagine this jigsaw puzzle made at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is a little on the fiddly side. The researchers involved used the latest in LIGA technology, which combines lithography, electroplating and molding, to make objects which are very tall for their thickness.  Read More

Like her mittens, the 3D glasses might one day be optional (Photo: Miki Yoshihito)

Researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz have developed a 3D display which can also be viewed in 2D without glasses, and without the blurred effect caused by overlapping images. Though, as you'd expect, the screen displays both left and right images, it also emits a mysterious third image which is the key to the technology.  Read More

Scientists have developed a system in which a scan of the blood vessels within a person's ...

We’ve certainly been hearing a lot about facial recognition as a means of identification, although the technology could – conceivably – be thwarted by someone wearing a mask. Now, however, scientists at India’s Jadavpur University are taking a different approach to facial ID. They’ve developed a system that can identify a person based not on the composition of their face, but on the blood vessels within it.  Read More

Japanese startup Spiber is working on mass-producing artificial spider silk, an extremely ...

Spider silk is a truly remarkable material: it's tougher than Kevlar, strong as steel, lighter than carbon fiber, and can be stretched 40 percent beyond its original length without breaking. Now, Japanese startup Spiber says it has found a way to produce it synthetically and, over the next two years, will step up mass production to create anything from surgical materials to auto parts and bulletproof vests.  Read More

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