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Science

Is a sun-powered space laser the answer to stopping major asteroid impacts? (Photo: Shutte...

This past Friday was not a good day for asteroid-human relations with asteroid 2012 DA14 passing a mere 27,700 km (17,200 miles) from the Earth just a few hours after a meteor exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, damaging hundreds of buildings and injuring thousands. Scientists have been quick to point out that both of these events – a meteor exploding over a populated area and a large asteroid passing through Earth's geosynchronous orbit – are quite rare, but when the worst case scenario is the complete annihilation of all life on Earth, it's probably best to be prepared. That's why researchers in California recently proposed DE-STAR – a system which could potentially harness the sun's energy to dissolve wayward space rocks up to ten times larger than 2012 DA14 with a vaporizing laser.  Read More

One of Duke University's infrared detector-equipped test subjects

Quite often, when we hear about brain-machine interfaces, it’s in the context of returning an ability to people who lack it. People who are unable to speak, for instance, might be able to interface with a machine that could speak for them. Recently, however, scientists at Duke University used such an interface to augment rats with a sort of “sixth sense” – the ability to detect invisible infrared light by sense of touch. The research could have significant implications for the disabled.  Read More

KTH's Josefin Illergård, who led the research on the new material

Because they’re known for being effective killers of bacteria, silver nanoparticles have been finding their way into a wide variety of antimicrobial materials. There are concerns, however, regarding the consequences of those nanoparticles being shed by the material and entering the environment. In particular, there are worries that through continuous low-level exposure to the nanoparticles, bacteria could develop a resistance to them. Now, researchers from Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology have announced the development of a new type of antibacterial material, that they claim won’t cause such problems.  Read More

The new software has already accurately reconstructed the Proto-Austronesian language, whi...

Imagine the wealth of knowledge we could uncover if it was possible to travel back in time and re-construct ancient languages. While that’s impossible right now, scientists at UC Berkley and the University of British Columbia reckon they’ve managed the next-best thing, by developing new software which uncovers existing fragments of “proto-languages” from languages still in use.  Read More

Scientists have used etched silicon nanoparticles in the anode of a next-generation lithiu...

In some peoples’ opinion, electric cars won’t become truly viable until their batteries offer a lot more driving range, and can be recharged much more quickly than is currently possible. Well, those people may soon be getting their wish. Scientists at the University of Southern California have developed a new type of lithium-ion battery, that they claim holds three times as much energy as a conventional li-ion, and can be recharged in just ten minutes.  Read More

Professor Xiong Qihua and his team used a laser to cool the compound Cadmium Sulfide (Phot...

A research team at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has successfully used a laser to cool down a semiconductor material known as Cadmium Sulfide. The results of the recently published study could lead to the development of self-cooling computer chips and smaller, more energy efficient air conditioners and refrigerators that don't produce greenhouse gases.  Read More

The laser isotope ratio-meter, which is being used to detect counterfeit honey

When someone mentions counterfeiting, it brings up images of money, watches or DVDs. It certainly doesn't make honey spring to mind, yet honey smuggling and counterfeiting is an international problem involving hundreds of millions of dollars. In an effort to combat this, the European Space Agency (ESA) is funding a demonstration project to adopt lasers designed to study the Martian atmosphere, to detect fake honey.  Read More

The new Landsat 8 will continue NASA's 40-year program (Photo: NASA)

NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft was successfully placed in orbit earlier this week. The mission marks the continuation of the 40-year Landsat Earth-observation program, which aids in the study of dynamic and ongoing changes to the planet.  Read More

UC3M's combined GPS unit and inertial measurement unit

Many of us use our vehicle navigation systems on a daily basis, and as self-driving cars come into common use – assuming they do – such systems will become even more important. Unfortunately, however, the GPS technology that’s integral to vehicle navigation can be thwarted by obstacles such as tall buildings. A team of researchers at Spain’s Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) are attempting to address that problem, with a system that is said to drastically boost GPS accuracy in city driving.  Read More

Imitating the color mechanism of the peacock's feathers could enable next-gen, high resolu...

Structural color, which is the foundation that makes things like a peacock's tail feathers appear iridescent, has been an area of study for scientists as they try to adapt it for use in everyday technologies – only without the “rainbow effect” that makes the colors unstable depending on the angle of view. Now, Researchers at the University of Michigan have mimicked the peacock's color mechanism in an approach that could lead to high resolution reflective color displays and have implications for data storage, cryptography and counterfeiting.  Read More

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