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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

The movements of a fruit fly larva were observed under scanning electron microscope (Image...

Whether you're a researcher wishing to study living insects in conditions requiring a lethal vacuum, or you're that insect in the vacuum simply wishing not to die, scientists have found a solution to your problem. Using only a common chemical and a scanning electron microscope (SEM), a team at the Hamamatsu University School of Medicine developed a process that allows insects to survive in a vacuum of about a millionth of atmospheric pressure. Not just a new technique in biologists' toolkit, this research adds a small piece to our understanding of how life – insect, human, or otherwise – might be sustained outside the narrow constraints our bodies demand.  Read More

The galaxies M81 and M82 as photographed in a 12-inch telescope (Photo: NASA/Robert Gendle...

The spring has come, and the onset of mild weather in most of the northern hemisphere brings forth a hunger for new celestial objects to observe. Following on from our top picks for winter stargazing, here's our selection of the best targets for spring viewing.  Read More

Virginia Tech associate professor Percival Zhang is leading the research on the bioprocess...

Although the causes of world hunger are numerous, it certainly doesn’t help that factors such as arid conditions and limited land space make it difficult to grow food crops in certain places. If people in those areas could eat foods derived from plants that are hardy to the region, but that aren’t considered nutritious, it would go a long way towards addressing the problem. Well, that may soon be a reality, thanks to a newly-developed process that allows cellulose to be converted into starch.  Read More

A petri dish of the sulfur-based polymer next to a (very small) stockpile of sulfur powder...

Whether sulfur is a by-product or a waste product of oil refinement and coal combustion depends on how you slice it. Certainly, some of that sulfur can be put to use producing sulfuric acid, fertilizer and other chemicals, but much of it is accumulating into stockpiles that are expensive to maintain (due to the need to neutralize acidic run-off). Researchers at the University of Arizona think more of that sulfur could be put to use thanks to a new chemical process that uses sulfur to make plastics that may one day be used to make a new generation of lighter, more efficient lithium-sulfur batteries.  Read More

The ALMA telescope has been used to pinpoint the locations of early star-forming galaxies ...

Astronomers have used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimter Array (ALMA) telescope to more accurately map dusty star-forming galaxies in the early Universe. The new telescope is significantly more powerful than other similar devices, and in just a few hours, using less than a quarter of its full capacity, was able to double the number of confirmed observations of this type.  Read More

SOFIA's FORCAST telescope was used to collect infrared readings from protostar G35.20-0.74

Observations made by NASA's airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) have led to a development in our understanding of the formation of massive stars. By studying the star G35, the team found that the formation process was more akin to that of smaller stars than was previously thought.  Read More

Close-up look of PNNL’s concentrating solar power system

Solar power holds the promise of clean, limitless energy, but it currently suffers from high costs and an inherent disadvantage of not working when the sun isn't shining. The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is taking a best-of-both-worlds approach by developing a hybrid solar/gas system that increases the efficiency and reduces the carbon footprint of natural gas power plants.  Read More

The intestinal worm Pomphorhynchus laevis has provided the inspiration for a new system of...

You’ve gotta love those Pomphorhynchus laevis worms. Although the parasites may feed on fish by attaching themselves to the inside of the host animal’s intestines, they’ve also provided the inspiration for a new system of keeping skin grafts secured over wound sites.  Read More

Seed pods such as pine cones were the inspiration behind this novel composite material com...

While there are already memory materials that are able to change to a given shape when exposed to certain stimuli, researchers from ETH Zurich have created something a little different. Taking inspiration from the humble pine cone, they’ve developed a process that allows a wider variety of materials to be used, that can in turn attain a wider variety of shapes.  Read More

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