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Science

Medical

Laser-based blood glucose monitor promises a less prickly way to keep diabetes in check

For a number of years now, various research groups have been examining the potential for lasers applied to the skin to measure blood-glucose levels in an effort to put an end to the daily finger-pricks and meticulous blood sampling performed by diabetics. Japanese scientists have now developed one such system that differs from previous techniques by relying on far infrared light, which the researchers say is harmless and offers unprecedented levels of accuracy.
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Electronics

"Unhackable" RFID chip to keep your credit cards safe

Radio frequency identification (RFID) chips have made cashless payments commonplace and opened the way to automatic inventory control. However, they've also made it possible for credit card details and other private information to be stolen wirelessly. To make things a bit more secure, MIT and Texas Instruments are developing an "unhackable" RFID chip that's designed to fend off information-stealing attacks.Read More

Energy

Battery anodes made from pollen are nothing to sneeze at

As our dependence on mobile devices grows and we continue the shift to electric vehicles, there is a need to not only develop better performing batteries but find more accessible and sustainable materials with which to build them. To this end, researchers have now developed an anode for lithium-ion batteries using something those with allergies certainly wouldn't miss: pollen from bees and cattails.Read More

Biology

Scientists reclassify tarantula species, name one after Johnny Cash

The "man in black" may be gone, but he'll never be forgotten, especially among arachnologists. Researchers from Auburn University and Millsaps College have reclassified 55 known tarantula species down to 15, while adding 14 new species, including Aphonopelma johnnycashi. The mostly black tarantula species was discovered near Folsom State Prison in California, which is the subject of one of Johnny Cash's most famous songs, "Folsom Prison Blues," recorded during a concert at the prison in 1968.Read More

Medical

X-rays and nanoparticles combine to kill cancer deep in the body

Cancer may be terrifying, but cancerous cells aren't actually that difficult to kill. The tricky bit is doing so without killing the host or making them dreadfully ill in the process. The key is treatments that only target the cancer cells while leaving the surrounding healthy tissue alone. By combining X-rays with nanoparticles, a team of researchers from the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) in Australia has found a way of combating cancer deep inside the body in this way using a simple chemical.Read More

Physics

Secrets of water-skipping revealed

Skipping stones across water may seem like an innocent children's pastime, but the science behind it has helped to win more than one war. Now, researchers at Utah State University's (USU) College of Engineering are uncovering new insights into the physics of these kinds of water impacts that could have wide applications in the fields of naval, maritime, and ocean engineering.Read More

Energy

Carbon dioxide from the air converted into methanol

The danger posed by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide has seen many schemes proposed to remove a proportion it from the air. Rather than simply capture this greenhouse gas and bury it in the ground, though, many experiments have managed to transform CO2 into useful things like carbon nanofibers or even fuels, such as diesel. Unfortunately, the over-arching problem with many of these conversions is the particularly high operating temperatures that require almost counterproductive amounts of energy to produce relatively low yields of fuel. Now researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) claim to have devised a way to take CO2 directly from the air and convert it into methanol using much lower temperatures and in a correspondingly simpler way.Read More

Biology

Bedbug genome decoded in hopes of destroying the tiny blood suckers

"Sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite." The relevance of that little bedtime rhyme is growing, with every continent except Antarctica having experienced a resurgence of the critters during the past two decades. Combine that with the fact that bedbugs are becoming more and more resistant to insecticides meant to destroy them, and you can see how serious the issue is becoming. Fortunately scientists have just taken a key step in stopping the bitty blood suckers in their tracks – they've decoded the entire bedbug genome.Read More

Materials

Paper waste converted into eco-friendly aerogel

Known as "frozen smoke" because of their milky translucent appearance, aerogels are among the world's lightest solid materials. Consisting of 99.8 percent air, they're highly heat-resistant and are an excellent form of insulation. Now, scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have used paper waste to create one.Read More

Space

New Horizons sheds light on Pluto's floating hills

NASA has released a new image taken by the New Horizons spacecraft as it sped past the dwarf planet Pluto, displaying the locations of a number of "floating hills" composed of water ice. It is believed that these mobile peaks broke away from the highlands bordering a region known as Sputnik Planum, and subsequently carried with the flow of the nitrogen ice glaciers.Read More

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