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The research may point to new avenues in developing aids for the blind (Photo: Shutterstoc...

In an effort to enable blind people to navigate their surroundings more safely and effectively, researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have drawn inspiration from an unexpected source: rat whiskers.  Read More

The Yoda puppet, as operated by Frank Oz in The Phantom Menace

Here at Gizmag, we like to focus on the very latest developments in science and technology. That said, when I had the chance to cover the new Star Wars Identities exhibition today, well ... it was an opportunity too good to pass up. The show features approximately 200 original props, costumes and models used in all six films, many of which have never been displayed in public before. Using interactive technology, however, it also teaches us how our own identities are formed, using the Star Wars characters as examples.  Read More

How long before an alternative is found to battery-powered pace makers like this? (Photo: ...

Research using a prototype piezoelectric energy-harvesting device developed by the University of Michigan suggests that the human heart provides more than enough energy to power a pacemaker, according to a statement released by the American Heart Association. The research has led to fresh speculation that piezoelectricity, electricity converted from mechanical stresses undergone by a generator, may one day provide an alternative to battery-powered pacemakers that need to be surgically replaced as often as every five years.  Read More

Zac Vawter prepares for 'SkyRise Chicago', a fundraiser for the Rehabilitation Institute o...

Despite losing most of his right leg in a motorcycle accident, Zac Vawter (31) intends to climb all 103 flights of stairs at Chicago's Willis Tower this Sunday. He's been helping researchers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) test a cutting-edge bionic leg that is controlled by his own nerve impulses. He can walk, kick a ball, and climb stairs by simply thinking of what he wants his leg to do.  Read More

This simple jumping robot designed by Georgia Tech Grad Student Jeffrey Aguilar performed ...

Researchers at the Georgia Tech School of Physics say they have developed a novel jumping strategy for hopping robots that reduces power consumption. Associate Professor Daniel Goldman and Graduate Student Jeffrey Aguilar analyzed almost 20,000 jumps made by a simple robot designed to test jumping dynamics and discovered that a so-called "stutter jump" – where a robot builds up momentum by first making smaller hops before a big jump – requires a tenth of the power normally expended when performing the bigger jump from scratch.  Read More

Buttoning a shirt is one of the 18 tasks assessed (Photo: Linda Resnik, U.S. Department of...

Researchers at Brown University have devised a series of "metrics" designed to monitor the progress of prosthetics patients. The metrics measure the performance of patients with prosthetic arms when carrying out 18 household tasks such as putting on a shirt, pouring soda and tying shoelaces.  Read More

The Lake Side Power Station natural gas power plant in Utah, USA (Photo: Mscalora)

Since peaking in 2005, US domestic energy CO2 emissions have fallen by 8.6 percent. A new report asserts that up to half of this reduction may be down to "energy switching," as generators switch from coal to shale gas (partly on cost grounds), which emits about half the CO2 when burned. Yet the same report, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, questions the wisdom of touting shale gas as a low-carbon technology, with its authors actually asserting that "the exploitation of shale gas reserves is likely to increase total emissions." How so?  Read More

An amputee tests the AMP-Foot 2.0 on a treadmill

The majority of protheses available today that replace the lower leg, ankle, and foot are passive devices that store energy in an elastic element (similar to a coiled spring) at the beginning of a step and release during push-off to give you some added boost. While this type of prosthetic is energy efficient, it doesn't replicate the full power we get from our muscles. In order to provide that kind of energy an actuator is required, and these are often heavy and bulky. Researchers at Belgium's Vrije Universiteit Brussel have streamlined the technology in a device they call the AMP-Foot (Ankle Mimicking Prosthetic Foot).  Read More

IBM researcher Hongsik Park examines a wafer packed with carbon nanotubes

Silicon’s reign as the standard material for microchip semiconductors may be coming to an end. Using standard semiconductor processes, scientists from IBM Research have succeeded in precisely placing over 10,000 working transistors made from carbon nanotubes onto a wafer surface – and yes, the resulting chip was tested, and it worked. According to IBM, “These carbon devices are poised to replace and outperform silicon technology allowing further miniaturization of computing components and leading the way for future microelectronics.”  Read More

The Titan supercomputer

The U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has just introduced Titan, the world’s most powerful supercomputer. The size of a basketball court and using enough power to run a small town, the water-cooled circuits of Titan are capable of 20 petaflops or 20,000 trillion calculations per second. This makes Titan ten times more powerful than ORNL’s previous computer, Jaguar and 200,000 times more than the average PC. What’s more, it achieves this through components originally created for gaming computers.  Read More

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