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Science

A molecular messaging system capable of transmitting data over several meters has been built using off-the-shelf materials costing around US$100 and some vodka. The system mimics chemical signalling seen in nature and has potential applications for communications in environments not compatible with conventional wireless technologies, such as underwater, in tunnels and pipelines, as well as at the nano scale and within the body. Read More
Every 12 hours, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launches weather balloons from approximately 70 locations across the US. While these do provide valuable data, a lot can change between those intervals and those locations. That's why a new project is taking advantage of something that's already going up in the sky on a much more frequent basis and in a higher number of locations – Southwest Airlines jets. Read More
Lots of people wish that they were more attractive, but have you ever wanted to just look more ... memorable? Just a few tweaks here and there, to help keep your face from being forgotten? Well, software created by researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory can now make that happen – to photos of your face, that is. Read More
Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) is a nonprofit organization aimed at knocking down national and cultural boundaries by encouraging a common interest in astronomy. Along with their message that we all share one sky, AWB is now selling a neat little grab-n-go telescope called OneSky. The scope is perfectly suited for a quick look at the heavens from the backyard, as well as for throwing in the car before heading to darker skies. I'm reviewing this scope, and it is a prize for the price. Read More
Microsoft's Kinect system is certainly impressive, but now that we've had a chance to get used to it and start taking it for granted, it does have one problem – you have to stay located in front of it. MIT's new WiTrack system, however, can track users' movements even when those people are in another room. Among other things, this could allow for video games in which the players run all over their house. Read More
The study of archaeology has long been carried out using tools from the physics lab. Among these are carbon-14 dating, thermoluminescence dating, x-ray photography, x-ray fluorescence elemental analysis, CAT and MRI scanning, ground-penetrating sonar and radar, and many others. What is less well known is that archaeology has also made substantial contributions to physics. This is the story of old lead; why it is important to physics, and what ethical problems it presents to both sciences. Read More
X-ray machines are all large devices that can only image hard structures such as bone, unless a contrast-enhancing solution such as barium is present in the patient ... right? Well, no, not all of them. A new system developed by researchers at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital is small enough to be considered portable, doesn't expose patients to as much radiation, and can image soft tissues in minute detail. Read More
Although they only account for around three in every thousand deliveries, monozygotic, or "identical" twins are fertile fodder for crime writers and cop shows. This isn't surprising considering that DNA fingerprint testing is not able to genetically differentiate between the good and evil twin. But now German-based company Eurofins MWG Operon says it has found a way to do just that. Read More
Methods for controlling mosquitoes usually take two tacks: luring the mosquitoes into a trap away from humans, or discouraging them from biting at the source. Both methods can be expensive, unhealthy, cumbersome, or disgusting (the smell of rancid butter, anyone?) and generally aren’t scalable for the countries that suffer the most from mosquito-borne disease. New research explores how a mosquito’s neurons actually detect humans, and presents a promising class of chemicals, screened for safety, cost, and an appealing scent, some of which attract mosquitoes and others of which mask the smell of tasty human skin. Read More
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have transformed human stem cells into functional lung cells, paving the way for ultimately creating bioengineered lungs using the patient's own cells. Besides being able to generate lung tissue for transplants, these cells could also be used to study lung development and potentially find more advanced treatments for lung diseases. Read More
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