Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Science

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

Researchers at the University of Vermont have developed the Hedonometer, which measures gl...

Is it possible to measure people’s levels of happiness based on the online data they produce? The team behind Hedonometer thinks so. Conceived by Peter Dodds and Chris Danforth at the University of Vermont’s Computational Story Lab, the software powering the platform, which recently went live, not only measures human happiness but does it in real time, too.  Read More

Scientists in Germany have developed a protective glove that warns lab workers of toxic su...

Laboratories that deal with dangerous chemicals devote a lot of time and money to ensuring the work environment is safe. Since many toxic substances lack a noticeable smell or color, the trick is finding a detection method that alerts employees to their presence as quickly and clearly as possible. Scientists at the the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies may have found a simple answer to that problem in the form of a protective glove that immediately changes color when it comes into contact with hazardous materials.  Read More

A material known as a plasmonic polypeptide nanocomposite has been shown to strengthen las...

Stitches and staples may be on their way to becoming a thing of the past, thanks to a developing technology known as laser tissue welding. Now, a new gold-based solder has been created, that could make tissue welds in regions such as the intestines much stronger and more reliable.  Read More

Artist's conception of the interlocking 3D battery electrodes exchanging ions (Image: Univ...

There can be little doubt that people love their mobile devices. But, by leaving them high and dry at the most inconvenient of times, this love generally doesn't extend to the batteries that power said devices. New microbatteries developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) that measure just a few millimeters in size, yet are powerful enough to power a mobile phone may be more likely to inspire a little love.  Read More

An example of one of the invisible patterns, viewed without and with a polarizing filter

Wondering whether the $50 Armani suit you bought in that alley in Hong Kong is the genuine article? Soon, there may be a definitive way of knowing. A new system has been developed, in which designer-specific invisible patterns can be woven into fabric.  Read More

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

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