Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show

Science

The TomTato consists of the top of a cherry tomato plant and the bottom of a white potato ...

We've seen a number of innovations that allow for gardening in small spaces, including a ferris wheel-like contraption, a mat that shows you where to plant specially-prepared seeds, and a system that lets you grow vertically-stacked veggies in your window. The TomTato, however, is in a league of its own – it's a single plant that produces both tomatoes and potatoes at the same time.  Read More

Are we really a step closer to harnessing the power of lightning? (Photo: Wim Vandenbussch...

In a development that would seem to bring a whole new meaning to the term Lightning charger, Nokia and the University of Southampton claim to have used simulated lightning to charge a Nokia Lumia 925 mobile phone. A University press release states that a 200,000 V was "sent" across a 30 cm gap with the light and heat generated supposedly similar to that of a lightning strike. But is there really any cause for excitement, or are we merely witnessing special effects?  Read More

Ishin-Den-Shin lets a person hear a recorded spoken message through a finger (Photo: Disne...

Forget using tape recorders and smartphones to play back spoken messages – what if you could simply hear them through a finger? Disney researcher Ivan Poupyrev has come up with a system that allows for just that. Using the human body as a sound transmitter, the technology lets you hear audio messages when someone touches your ear with their finger. Even more strikingly, it also lets you hear those spoken messages off the surface of any ordinary object you might touch, like a knife or a ring.  Read More

A schematic drawing of the Q-Weak experiment, showing how the scattered electrons are anal...

Researchers at the Jefferson Accelerator Laboratory have measured the weak charge of the proton for the first time. Early results from the Q-Weak experiment find the weak charge of the proton and the neutron to be consistent with predictions of the Standard Model.  Read More

A Colorado potato beetle tries to find purchase on one of the slippery surfaces

Not having air conditioning in my house, here's something I didn't know: the inner surfaces of air conditioner ventilation pipes are often covered in cockroaches. Nice. In order to keep the roaches out of those pipes – along with keeping other insects out of other places – scientists from Germany's University of Freiburg have developed new bio-inspired surface coatings that even sticky-footed bugs can't cling to.  Read More

Scientists have developed 'DNA barcodes' that could be used to authenticate high-end consu...

Earlier this year, we heard about a gun and a fogging system, both of which tag criminals with synthesized DNA. The idea is that when those people are apprehended later, they can be linked to the crime by analyzing the location- or event-specific DNA still on their skin or clothing. Now, scientists at the Technology Transfer Unit of Portugal's University of Aveiro are developing something similar – DNA "barcodes" that can be applied to products, then subsequently read as a means of identification.  Read More

An unlikely tool for sewage treatment (Photo: Stuart Pilbrow)

A team of Taiwanese researchers is to demonstrate a method of treating sewage using old optical disks such as CDs. The disks are used as a platform to grow minuscule nanorods of zinc oxide, a known photocatalyst capable of breaking down organic matter. By spinning the disks, sewage water spreads into a thin layer through which light can pass, exciting the nanorods into action.  Read More

Gear teeth of a juvenile Issus coleaptratus (Photo: University of Cambridge)

Among the mechanical components not found in nature is the spur gear. That is, until now. Zoologists of the University of Cambridge have discovered that the juvenile form of the leaf-hopper Issus coleoptratus has a set of gear-like linkages between the two jumping legs to synchronize the legs during a jump.  Read More

An image of a manga comic created by the Manga Generator (Image: Shirai Labs)

If you've longed to be the star of a manga comic, here's your chance to punch, jump and kick your way into one. Shirai Lab's Manga Generator turns any pose you strike into a comic panel in real time with the help of a Kinect sensor, adding backgrounds, props, speech bubbles and sound effects to convey the emotion you want to express. After a couple of minutes you're given a single-page multi-panel comic that features your image, fancifully rendered manga-style throughout.  Read More

A European Southern Observatory simulation of gas cloud G2 threading through the local sta...

As you read this, the eyes of the astrophysical world are focused on about one-trillionth of the sky, watching as the calm existence of G2, a three-Earth mass gas cloud near the galactic center, is viciously disrupted by a close encounter with Sagittarius A*, the galaxy's supermassive black hole. Careful observation of this rare event is expected to provide an enormous amount of information on the environment of the central light month (about 6,000 AU) immediately surrounding the black hole.  Read More

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