Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Science

Cornell professor David Muller and grad student Pinshane Huang show a model of the atomic ...

In 2012, a one-molecule thick layer of silica glass was accidently made in the laboratory of Cornell professor David Muller, allowing the atoms in a glass to be seen individually for the first time. Now, Guinness World Records has identified this ultimately thin glass as a 2014 World Record.  Read More

Researchers have discovered which receptors mosquitoes use to detect DEET (Photo: Shutters...

Nothing keeps the mosquitoes away quite as well as DEET, but it's not the most innocuous of substances – besides stinking, it also melts plastic and synthetic fabrics, plus it's even been linked to problems in users' central nervous systems. It can also be prohibitively expensive for use in developing nations. Thanks to research being conducted at the University of California, Riverside, however, a new generation of non-toxic but highly-effective repellants may be on its way.  Read More

UCL graduate student Alice Pyne works on a LEGO-based atomic force microscope (Photo: Inst...

Scanning atomic force microscopes, first introduced into commerce in 1989, are a powerful tool for nanoscale science and engineering. Capable of seeing individual atoms, commercial AFM prices range between US$10K and $1M, depending on the unit's features and capabilities. During the recent LEGO2NANO summer school held at Tsinghua University in Beijing, a group of Chinese and English students succeeded in making a Lego-based AFM in five days at a cost less than $500.  Read More

Fiber optic sensors are being installed along all of Hong Kong's commuter rail lines (Phot...

A team from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University is to release details of a seven-year program to monitor a 36-km stretch of high-speed rail line using a series of special fiber optic sensors . According to a press release put out by the Optical Society, the system has detected "anomalous vibrations" on 30 occasions, allowing the early rectification of emerging problems that could conceivably have gone on to cause rail accidents.  Read More

The TomTato consists of the top of a cherry tomato plant and the bottom of a white potato ...

We've seen a number of innovations that allow for gardening in small spaces, including a ferris wheel-like contraption, a mat that shows you where to plant specially-prepared seeds, and a system that lets you grow vertically-stacked veggies in your window. The TomTato, however, is in a league of its own – it's a single plant that produces both tomatoes and potatoes at the same time.  Read More

Are we really a step closer to harnessing the power of lightning? (Photo: Wim Vandenbussch...

In a development that would seem to bring a whole new meaning to the term Lightning charger, Nokia and the University of Southampton claim to have used simulated lightning to charge a Nokia Lumia 925 mobile phone. A University press release states that a 200,000 V was "sent" across a 30 cm gap with the light and heat generated supposedly similar to that of a lightning strike. But is there really any cause for excitement, or are we merely witnessing special effects?  Read More

Ishin-Den-Shin lets a person hear a recorded spoken message through a finger (Photo: Disne...

Forget using tape recorders and smartphones to play back spoken messages – what if you could simply hear them through a finger? Disney researcher Ivan Poupyrev has come up with a system that allows for just that. Using the human body as a sound transmitter, the technology lets you hear audio messages when someone touches your ear with their finger. Even more strikingly, it also lets you hear those spoken messages off the surface of any ordinary object you might touch, like a knife or a ring.  Read More

A schematic drawing of the Q-Weak experiment, showing how the scattered electrons are anal...

Researchers at the Jefferson Accelerator Laboratory have measured the weak charge of the proton for the first time. Early results from the Q-Weak experiment find the weak charge of the proton and the neutron to be consistent with predictions of the Standard Model.  Read More

A Colorado potato beetle tries to find purchase on one of the slippery surfaces

Not having air conditioning in my house, here's something I didn't know: the inner surfaces of air conditioner ventilation pipes are often covered in cockroaches. Nice. In order to keep the roaches out of those pipes – along with keeping other insects out of other places – scientists from Germany's University of Freiburg have developed new bio-inspired surface coatings that even sticky-footed bugs can't cling to.  Read More

Scientists have developed 'DNA barcodes' that could be used to authenticate high-end consu...

Earlier this year, we heard about a gun and a fogging system, both of which tag criminals with synthesized DNA. The idea is that when those people are apprehended later, they can be linked to the crime by analyzing the location- or event-specific DNA still on their skin or clothing. Now, scientists at the Technology Transfer Unit of Portugal's University of Aveiro are developing something similar – DNA "barcodes" that can be applied to products, then subsequently read as a means of identification.  Read More

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