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Science

We already knew that graphene was a highly useful material, but just how useful is it? Well, it turns out that even defective graphene may be valuable. According to a team of mostly-American scientists, improperly-formed graphene could find use in next-generation fuel cells. Among other things, those cells might allow electric cars to be recharged in the amount of time that it currently takes to refuel a gas-burning vehicle. Read More
Usually when we hear about the properties of geckos being applied to human technology, it's the reptiles' sticky feet that are in question. Now, however, scientists in Australia are looking at the manner in which a particular type of gecko is able to stay clean. Their findings could pave the way for things like water-repelling electronics, or clothes that never need washing. Read More
At this time of year, people living in northern regions all over the world are faced with the same problem: icy sidewalks. Boots with otherwise grippy soles still slip, and spikes don't do well on stretches where there is no ice. Researchers from the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the University of Toronto are developing what could be a better alternative, however – rubber soles with bits of glass embedded in them. Read More
Using a technique that cuts out unwanted copies of a genome to improve the beneficial properties of a compound, researchers working at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Services (ACES) claim to have produced a yeast that could vastly increase the quality of wine while also reducing its hangover-inducing properties. Read More
Studying insects in flight can be difficult. They're usually tethered in place, although this may affect the manner in which they fly. That's why scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) took a different approach – they installed an electronic backpack on giant flower beetles, allowing them to be remotely controlled while in free flight. The technology not only gave the researchers a better insight into how the insects fly, but it could also find use in areas such as search-and-rescue. Read More
As any classic murder mystery or spy thriller will tell you, cyanide is a poison that acts quickly. Once exposed to it, a person can die within 30 minutes. Unfortunately for people who think they might have encountered it, the standard test for determining exposure takes 24 hours. Now, however, a scientist at South Dakota State University has developed a sensor that detects cyanide within a blood sample in just 70 seconds. Read More
Researchers at the University of Southampton and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have found that fiber optics can be used to build low-power, high-bandwidth artificial neurons that mimic their biological counterparts. Used inside a properly designed chip, this technology could lead to computers that think and learn like a human. Read More
On most fish, their hard, overlapping scales provide considerable protection against pokes and cuts. Because those independently-moving scales are each attached to a flexible underlying skin, however, the fish are still able to easily twist and turn their bodies. Scientists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and MIT are now attempting to copy that structure, to develop flexible-yet-effective armor for humans. Read More
The High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS) under construction in the Czech Republic is designed to generate a peak power of more than 1 quadrillion watts (1 petawatt, 1015 watts). The key component to this instrument – the laser "pump" – will be a set of solid-state laser diode arrays recently constructed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). At peak power, this electronic assemblage develops a staggering 3.2 million watts of power and are the most powerful laser diode arrays ever built. Read More
A thin and flexible chameleon-like material developed by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley changes color when stretched or bent even tiny amounts. With potential applications in camouflage, structural fatigue sensors, display technologies, and more, the material's color changes reliably as it gets flexed thanks to rows of ridges that are precisely etched onto a silicon film one thousand times thinner than a human hair. Read More