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Science

A team led by the University of St. Andrews has turned a laser into a tractor beam that wo...

From The Skylark of Space to Star Wars, no self-respecting science fiction spaceship would break orbit without a tractor beam on board. We’re still a long way from locking on to errant shuttlecraft, but a team led by Dr. Tomas Cizmar, Research Fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, has turned a laser into a tractor beam that works on the microscopic level.  Read More

How brightly will Comet PANSTAARS shine? We don't have long to wait for the answer (Photo:...

Any comet you can see is a good one. Comet PANSTAARS is beginning its run for observers in the Southern Hemisphere, and will become visible to those in the Northern Hemisphere in the first few days of March. However, updated estimates suggest the peak brightness will be considerably less than was earlier predicted.  Read More

Dr. Laura Mickes, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick (UK), co-au...

The success of social networks such as Facebook may provide clues to the type of information the human mind tends to favor. New research suggests human memory prefers spontaneous writing favored by users communicating online to grammatically polished text found in edited material. This the gist of the findings presented in a paper called Major Memory for Microblogs, which details the results of a research comparing memory retention of Facebook updates to book excerpts and faces.  Read More

The ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kit lets users raise plants and filter their aquarium's water at ...

The folks at the non-profit ECOLIFE Foundation are dedicated to providing, as they put it, “ecologically sustainable water, food, and shelter to communities through education applied programs.” Part of this mandate involves the promotion of community aquaponics projects – systems that symbiotically combine aquaculture and hydroponics. Now, the group is bringing scaled-down aquaponics to classrooms and homes, in the form of its ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kit for aquariums.  Read More

Molecular assembler synthesized by Prof. Leigh of the University of Manchester and his gro...

Ribosomes are the main engines of creation of the proteins on which the body depends. Now, an artificial analog of the biological ribosome has been designed and synthesized by Professor David Leigh FRS and his team in the School of Chemistry at the University of Manchester.  Read More

Tobacco plants used in the development of the vaccine

A familiar news topic during the flu season is the difficulties that the authorities face in producing enough flu vaccine fast enough to control the outbreak. That’s a serious enough problem, but when the influenza outbreak turns out to be the start of a global pandemic, then hundreds of millions of lives could be at risk. To combat this, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed a new way of making vaccines that has turned out 10 million doses of H1N1 influenza vaccine in a month, in a recent test run.  Read More

Artist's concept of a Phoenix tender in action

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has released a new video showing the progress of its Phoenix project, which aims at salvaging parts from defunct communications satellites to build new ones. Based on a new class of nanosatellites and a robotic “tender,” its purpose is to use repurposed satellites to construct a new communications net for the military at low cost.  Read More

Hardwire Armor Systems' ballistic whiteboard

Given the horrific event that occurred last month in Newtown, Connecticut, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a rise in products designed specifically to protect children against shootings in schools. One of the latest such devices is a bulletproof dry-erase whiteboard.  Read More

Crumpled graphene layered on a flexible polymer (Photo: Duke University)

Despite its numerous wondrous properties, a propensity to stick together and be difficult to flatten out once crumpled can make working with graphene difficult and limit its applications. Engineers at Duke University have now found that by attaching graphene to a stretchy polymer film, they are able to crumple and then unfold the material, resulting in a properties that lend it to a broader range of applications, including artificial muscles.  Read More

Spherical silicon nanoparticles about 10 nanometers in diameter that can generate hydrogen...

Researchers at the University of Buffalo have created spherical silicon nanoparticles they claim could lead to hydrogen generation on demand becoming a “just add water” affair. When the particles are combined with water, they rapidly form hydrogen and silicic acid, a nontoxic byproduct, in a reaction that requires no light, heat or electricity. In experiments, the hydrogen produced was shown to be relatively pure by successfully being used to power a small fan via a small fuel cell.  Read More

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