Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show


Using genetic engineering to alter the Aedes aegypti mosquito's sense of smell could revea...

It has long been believed that detecting carbon dioxide was one of the ways that mosquitoes target their human prey. But the fact that mosquitoes tend to favor certain people over others indicates that some other odor also plays a part in the attraction. Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have genetically engineered mosquitoes to alter their sense of smell, which could provide the understanding required to block the pesky pests' attraction to humans.  Read More

A finger on the hydrogel hand bends in response to near-infrared laser light

For many people, the word “robot” is likely to conjure up images of metal, mechanical men not unlike Cygan. But instead of creating robots in our own image, the relatively new field of “soft robotics” takes inspiration from creatures such as octopuses, squids, starfish and caterpillars for soft, flexible robots that could squeeze through small spaces. Such robots could benefit from a new hydrogel developed at the University of California, Berkeley that flexes in response to light.  Read More

The University of Illinois' iPhone-based biosensor

We already know that smartphones can perform many of the same features as more expensive computers, cameras and other devices. Now, a portable iPhone cradle made up of about US$200 worth of electronics is claimed to be as accurate of a biosensor as a $50,000 spectrophotometer that remains stuck in a lab.  Read More

False-color scanning electron microscope images of some of the crystalline flowers

When we think of crystals, most of us probably either picture spiky things like snowflakes, or cube-shaped objects like grains of sugar. Researchers from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, however, have recently coaxed barium carbonate crystals to grow into very miniature replicas of soft, curved flowers.  Read More

Abell 222/223 galaxies, showing a filament of dark matter stretching between the two galax...

Recently the media has been saturated with overly-hyped reports that NASA's Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) may have detected dark matter. These claims may have some justification if the word "may" is shouted, but they rest on a number of really major assumptions and guesses, some of which are on weak and shifting soil. So just what was seen in the experiment, and what are the possible explanations?  Read More

Inspired by moths' eyes, scientists have created new technology that may help improve the ...

Because moths need to use every little bit of light available in order to see in the dark, their eyes are highly non-reflective. This quality has been copied in a film that can be applied to solar cells, which helps keep sunlight from being reflecting off of them before it can be utilized. Now, a new moth eye-inspired film may further help solar cells become more efficient.  Read More

The SKWID system, which harnesses power from both the wind and the tide, is scheduled to b...

There are already a wide variety of renewable energy systems that harness the power of the wind, along with some that generate power via the flow of ocean currents. According to Japanese engineering firm MODEC (Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Co.), however, its soon-to-be-tested SKWID system will be the first one to do both.  Read More

UAV helicopter used to hunt oil in Norway

Like an army, science needs the high ground. This is true when it comes to oil exploration and especially so in the rugged landscape of Norway. The Virtual Outcrop Geology (VOG) group at the Norwegian Centre for integrated petroleum research (CIPR) is working to capture this vantage point in a distinctly 21st century way, by using UAVs to seek out oil by helping geologists build 3D models of the terrain.  Read More

Massive galaxy LRG 3-757 forms a gravitational lens for a second galaxy (blue ring) at a d...

Gravitational lenses, which are massive galaxies or galaxy clusters that act as a magnifying glass by bending light passing them, are one of the Universe's golden gifts to astronomers. To help unlock the mysteries that might lie behind these untapped celestial resources, Zooniverse, a program of the Citizens Science Alliance, has begun the Space Warps project. It allows citizen scientists to put their skills at pattern/image recognition to use, toward finding these fugitive gravitational lenses.  Read More

Yaroslav Urzhumov with the 3D-printed invisibility cloak developed at Duke University

Invisibility cloaks have been around in various forms since 2006, when the first cloak based on optical metamaterials was demonstrated. The design of cloaking devices has come a long way in the past seven years, as illustrated by a simple, yet highly effective, radar cloak developed by Duke University Professor Yaroslav Urzhumov, that can be made using a hobby-level 3D printer.  Read More

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