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Science

Materials

Magnesium and silicon carbide recipe results in lightweight metal with record strength

Magnesium has a number of potential advantages when it comes to engineering. It is considered the lightest of structural metals and it is the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust. On the flipside, however, it is not as strong and durable as some of its counterparts. Scientists are now reporting to have overcome its main limitations by infusing it with silicon carbide nanoparticles to form a new type of super-strong composite material, which they claim may lead to lighter and more efficient airplanes, spacecraft and cars. Read More

Electronics Review

Review: Ditching keys and combinations with the Noke Bluetooth padlock

The Noke padlock launched on Kickstarter last August, resonating with backers who liked the idea of a Bluetooth-connected padlock. Since then, other smart padlocks have hit the market, such as ones by Master Lock and Quicklock. The Noke padlock has recently started shipping to backers, and although it may not be the first available to consumers, it's possibly the smartest and most secure. We spent some time with the Noke to lock down its strengths and weaknesses.Read More

Environment

SmartFin gathers ocean data while users surf

When it comes to assessing the health of the oceans, scientists already utilize buoys and autonomous vehicles that monitor the deep waters. What they're lacking, however, is information on the waters close to shore – it's an area that's too shallow and/or turbulent for the usual tools. That's why SmartFin was created. It's a surfboard fin, that will allow surfers to gather oceanographic data for scientists.Read More

Electronics

Laser X-rays to nab nuclear smugglers

With over 100 million cargo containers in transit each year, screening them for illicit nuclear material is a major problem. To keep commerce flowing while maintaining an eye on nuclear terrorism and smuggling, a team of scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is developing a laser-based X-ray machine that can image a uranium disk the size of a stack of three US nickels hidden between three-inch (7.6 cm) steel panels.Read More

Space

US restarts production of plutonium-238 to power space missions

In an effort to avert an outer space energy crisis, the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has restarted production of plutonium-238 (PU-238) after almost 30 years. The civilian stockpile of the plutonium isotope used to power the radiothermal generators (RTG) that make electricity for US deep space probes has dwindled to only 35 kg (77 lb), so the first 50 g (1.7 oz) of plutonium oxide produced by the laboratory marks a major turnaround in American space capabilities.Read More

Space

Faulty instrument delays Mars lander launch

NASA's next big Mars mission will have to wait a couple of years due to a faulty piece of equipment that won't stay fixed. The space agency announced today that the launch of the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander mission scheduled for next March has been scrubbed due to a persistent vacuum leak in the lander's primary science instrument. A new launch date has yet to be determined.Read More

Materials

Gecko-inspired adhesive tape finally scales to market

The natural stickiness of gecko's feet has inspired decades-long research efforts to develop advanced adhesives. Now a company spun out of a university research group called nanoGriptech has taken the science out of the lab and into the market, through a number of newly available products promised to deliver enhanced grip and reusability.Read More

Energy

New flow battery projected to cost 60% less than existing standard

A new organic aqueous flow battery technology promises to drastically lower the cost and sustainability of running energy storage systems. The technology, which was developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, uses low-cost and sustainable synthesized molecules rather than the usual commodity metals, and could be retrofitted to existing batteries. Read More

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