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The OTIS glider and an Atlantic sturgeon, which is about to be tagged and released (Activi...

The Atlantic sturgeon, which is one of the world’s oldest species of fish, can live up to 60 years, reaching a length of of 15 feet (4.6 meters) and a weight of over 800 pounds (360 kg). It’s also endangered, due to past overfishing for its caviar. In order to protect the sturgeon that are left, it’s important to keep fishermen from catching them accidentally. That’s why researchers at the University of Delaware and Delaware State University are calling upon satellites, and an underwater robot known as OTIS.  Read More

Seahorse tails are prehensile, like a monkey's (Photo: shellac)

The meaning of the word biomimicry is being devalued and inflated, to the point that any technology or design with the vaguest resemblance to something in the natural world tends to have the word unthinkingly applied to it. PR people in the automotive and architectural fields are now particularly fond of the word. So it's refreshing to be able to report on some research that has taken a detailed look at a natural phenomenon, the armor of a seahorse, and thought about how it might be applied in the field of robotics. The researchers think a similar structure of sliding plates could be used to improve robot arms used for underwater exploration and bomb disposal.  Read More

Researchers have successfully combined biology and electronics, in the form of this bionic...

A Princeton University team has successfully merged electronics and biology to create a functional ear that can “hear” radio frequencies. The tissue and antenna were merged via the use of an “off-the -shelf” 3D printer, and the results have the potential to not only restore but actually enhance human hearing in the future.  Read More

A frame from 'A Boy and His Atom'

Anyone who’s tried their hand at stop animation will know it’s an incredibly time consuming and delicate job. But spare a thought for scientists at IBM Almaden in California who have produced the world’s smallest stop animation movie by using a scanning tunneling microscope to move individual atoms. Rather than competing with Aardman or Pixar for a slice of the international box office, the film is intended to make the public aware of new technology that could increase computer memories far beyond what is possible today.  Read More

Scientists at Georgia Tech have crafted a new type of touch-reactive material that's sensi...

For years now, scientists across the globe have strived to find a method that gives robots an accurate sense of touch, and with good reason. A robot with an improved ability to feel would be better equipped to identify objects, judge its movements with greater care, and perform more tasks overall. In the latest step towards that goal, researchers at Georgia Tech have crafted a new type of touch-reactive material that's sensitive enough to read fingerprints and could provide robots with a sense of touch that resembles our own.  Read More

A 300-micrometer microgripper at the opening of a cathether

When procuring tissue samples for medical diagnosis, doctors have been confined to bulky and invasive forceps. But with recent successful experiments in pigs, we may see doctors switching from the single forceps to hordes of a thousand "microgrippers." These metal discs, each only 300 micrometers in size, are designed to snip bits of tissue when introduced en masse into the body and then be easily retrieved by a doctor. Their small size, added to the fact that they need no batteries, tethers or wires, belies their complexity and autonomy in function, which could allow the microgrippers to provide diagnoses earlier, more easily, and with less trauma.  Read More

Sandia National Laboratories chemical engineer Vicki Chavez worked with Kevin Fleming to p...

Ammonium nitrate is a commonly used fertilizer, but when mixed with a fuel such as diesel, it makes a powerful explosive – as seen in last week’s fertilizer plant explosion in Texas. But it's the deliberate use of the compound in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and acts of terror such as the Oklahoma City bombing that gives rise to even greater cause for concern. This is why Kevin Fleming, an optical engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, developed a fertilizer alternative that isn’t detonable and therefore can’t be used in a bomb.  Read More

An illustration of the edible micro-battery, that could power ingestible medical devices

Over the past several years, scientists have developed so-called “camera pills,” that can be swallowed by patients and then transmit video from within their bodies. While such non-digestible gadgets could serve as an invaluable means of imaging, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are now looking into tiny electronic medical devices that could be swallowed and partially digested, providing non-invasive treatment in the process.  Read More

Researchers have been able to non-invasively control the walking paths of red-eared slider...

Last year, much to the delight of squeamish people everywhere, scientists were successfully able to remotely control the paths traveled by live cockroaches. They did so by wirelessly stimulating the insects’ antennae and cerci sensory organs. Now, a group of scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have reported success in controlling the paths of walking turtles. Fortunately for the reptiles, the KAIST researchers’ methods were considerably less invasive than those used on the cockroaches.  Read More

A cross-section of Organovo's 3D bio-printed liver tissue

Back in 2009, we heard about a 3D bio-printer that had been developed through a collaboration between Australian engineering firm Invetech, and Organovo, a San Diego-based regenerative medicine company. The device incorporates two print heads – one for placing human cells, and the other for placing a hydrogel, scaffold, or support matrix. At the time, the hope was that the printer could someday be used to create organs for transplant purposes. This week, Organovo announced that it has succeeded in using the device to create three-dimensional functioning human livers – albeit tiny ones.  Read More

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