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Science

Some of the potatoes used by Boeing to test WiFi

There doesn't seem to be anything you can’t do with potatoes. You can boil them, mash them, fry them, roast them and even make pens out of them. Boeing is taking this versatility a step further by using them to replace people. No, this isn't a strange genetic experiment. The plane maker’s engineers at the Boeing Test & Evaluation laboratories have discovered that sacks of potatoes work as a substitute for people, when testing the effect on WiFi of an airline cabin packed with passengers.  Read More

A confetti-sized artificial kidney stone, with a sub-150-micrometer hole bored into it usi...

First of all, how can non-invasive surgery even be possible? After all, even in the case of minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery, small incisions are still made in the skin. Nonetheless, that’s just what scientists from the University of Michigan are proposing. They believe that it could be achieved by using a beam of sound, which would be emitted through the skin to a highly-focused point within the body – and they’ve already created such a beam and used it.  Read More

Amendment II's Ballistic Backpack

In the wake of last week’s horrific shootings in Connecticut, we’re sure to be seeing a lot more products like this cropping up. Made by Salt Lake City-based body armor company Amendment II, it’s called the Ballistic Backpack, and it’s designed to protect its wearer from bullets.  Read More

Researchers have discovered a strong historical link between global temperature increases ...

It’s no secret that volcanic eruptions can cool the planet by spewing ash and droplets of sulfuric acid into the atmosphere that obscure the sun. Now researchers at Germany’s GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Harvard University have found evidence that suggest the reverse could also be true. The researchers have discovered a strong historical link between global temperature increases and increases in volcanic activity.  Read More

CalTech's new nanofocusing plasmonic waveguide

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a nanofocusing waveguide, a tiny passive plasmonic device which is capable of concentrating light onto a spot a few nanometers in size. In so doing, they have sidestepped the diffraction-limited nature of light, which normally prevents focusing light to a spot smaller than its own wavelength. This remarkable feat may lead to new optoelectronic applications in computing, communications, and imaging.  Read More

A newly-developed codec could make pixels obsolete within five years, according to its cre...

Unlike traditional bitmap graphics, which are made up of an array of pixels, vector graphics consist of lines, curves and shapes that are based on geometric formulas. Not only do they take up far less memory than bitmaps, but sections of them can also be enlarged without any loss of resolution. Currently, however, vector graphics aren’t well-suited to photorealistic applications, such as video. That may be about to change, though, as researchers from the UK’s University of Bath have developed a new program that is said to overcome such limitations – the scientists believe that the technology could make pixels obsolete within five years.  Read More

An artist's conception of the Chang'E lunar orbiter come asteroid probe

China has now joined the very select group of countries to have succeeded in carrying out an interplanetary probe mission. According to reports from China's official news agency Xinhua, the Chang'E 2 probe passed a mere 3.2 km (2 miles) from the near-Earth asteroid Toutatis at 8:30:09 GMT on December 13, making it the closest asteroid flyby to date.  Read More

A blind cave fish, that gets around underwater just fine (Photo: Frank Vassen)

Ever wonder how fish can find their way around so easily in murky water? Well, most of them use something called their lateral line – a row of hair cells down either side of their body that detect changes in water pressure caused by movement, or by water flowing around objects. Now, scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and MIT have copied the lateral lines of the blind cave fish, in a man-made system designed to allow autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to navigate more accurately and efficiently.  Read More

A cross-section transmission electron micrograph of the tiny new transistor

As there is a finite number of transistors that can be effectively packed onto a silicon chip, researchers have been searching for an alternative to silicon that would allow integrated circuit development to continue to keep pace with Moore's Law. Researchers at MIT have recently used indium gallium arsenide to create the smallest transistor ever built from a material other than silicon. The new transistor, which is said to “work well,” is just 22 nanometers long and is a metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), which is the kind typically used in microprocessors.  Read More

Scientists have created a mussel-inspired gel, which may ultimately save human lives  (Pho...

Mussels have an amazing ability to cling to rocks, even when buffeted by large waves and ocean debris on a daily basis. Now, scientists have created a bioadhesive gel inspired by those mussels, that could potentially be used to reinforce weakened blood vessels.  Read More

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