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Custom prosthetic arm turns student into a bionic drummer

By - March 7, 2014 3 Pictures
In 2012, Jason Barnes lost the lower part of his right arm after being electrocuted. Though he could have pursued his dream of becoming a professional drummer using only his remaining limb (like Def Leppard's Rick Allen, for example), he decided to build his own stick-wielding prosthesis. The attachment certainly allowed him to make some noise, but it wasn't flexible enough to give the speed or bounce control he was looking for. Now, thanks to the work of Georgia Tech's Professor Gil Weinberg, Barnes is preparing for a gig later this month where a novel robot drumming prosthetic arm will help him pound out precision rhythms with a live band. Read More
— Science

A new understanding of flying snakes may lead to advances in technology

By - March 6, 2014 3 Pictures
So first of all ... yes, flying snakes do exist. Disappointingly, though, they don't have scaly dragon-like wings. Instead, they're able to flatten out their bodies after launching themselves from tree branches, proceeding to glide through the air for up to 100 feet (30.5 m). Recently, scientists figured out why that technique works as well as it does. Their findings could have some major applications for us humans. Read More
— Science

Bursts of light could make plants grown in outer space more nutritious

By - March 5, 2014 1 Picture
There's a conundrum of growing food in outer space: the same optimal conditions that create quick plant growth also leaves them missing a nutrient that protects human eyes from radiation, such as astronauts experience. However, scientists under the direction of Barbara Demmig-Adams at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a method of using bright pulses of light to trick plants into producing more zeaxanthin, which humans cannot produce on their own but is essential for long-term eye health and visual acuity. Read More
— Science

Sharks help scientists and themselves, by wearing cameras and swallowing sensors

By - February 28, 2014 2 Pictures
Perhaps you've seen footage from National Geographic's "Crittercam," an underwater video camera that has been attached to animals such as sharks and whales. Well, scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the University of Tokyo have gone one better. Not only have they been putting cameras on sharks to see what they get up to, but they've also been slipping them ingestible sensors, to monitor their dietary habits. The data that they've gathered could help protect shark populations, and the overall health of the ocean. Read More
— Science

Need to filter some water? Just go peel a pine tree

By - February 28, 2014 1 Picture
In many parts of the world, the presence of harmful bacteria makes it vitally important that water from lakes or rivers be thoroughly filtered before being consumed. While materials such as silver nanoparticles and titanium dioxide will do the job, people in developing nations or rural settings typically need something a lot cheaper and easier to manufacture. As it turns out, wood from pine trees works great. Read More
— Science

Stamp of approval for new living cell printing technique

By - February 27, 2014 1 Picture
Researchers in Houston have developed a cost effective method for printing living cells, claiming almost a 100 percent survival rate. The method, which is akin to a modern version of ancient Chinese wood block printing, allow cells to be printed on any surface and in virtually any two dimensional shape. And while current inkjet printers adapted to print living cells can cost upwards of US$10,000 with a cell survival rate of around 50 percent, this simple new technique could see the cell stamps produced for around $1. Read More
— Science

Cold-tolerant oil-producing sugarcane could be one sweet source of biofuel

By - February 25, 2014 1 Picture
Sugarcane grows like crazy, so if it could be used as a source of biofuel, well ... not only might it produce higher yields than other crops, but it could conceivably do so using less land. With that in mind, scientists from the University of Illinois are creating a strain of the plant that produces more oil, gets more energy from the sun, and can be grown in colder climates. Read More
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