2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Science

An asymmetrical elephant top that balance thanks to an algorithm created at Disney Researc...

Tops, yo-yos, and other spinning toys are amongst the oldest playthings created by man, with the earliest examples dating back to 3,500 BC. Paradoxically, they’re not very easy to make with their design requiring a lot of trial and error. One mistake and, instead of a pirouetting plaything, you get a clattering paperweight. That’s why spinning toys tend to be symmetrical – until now. In a blow for symmetry, Disney Research Zurich and ETH Zurich have developed a computer algorithm that can take any shape, no matter how cock-eyed, and make it spin like a top.  Read More

Dr. Horst Punzmann and team leader Prof. Michael Shats, at the ANU wave tank

If you've ever tried to retrieve an object that's floating away in a lake or the ocean, then you'll know how frustrating it can be, trying to draw that item towards you. According to research recently conducted at The Australian National University (ANU), however, it's possible to move such objects in whichever direction you wish – as long as you can generate the right type of waves.  Read More

A microscope cross-sectional view of the material, in which the microhairs are standing st...

What if your house's windows could automatically reduce the amount of hot sunlight passing through them, or your car's windshield could cause rain droplets to bead off to its edges? These things and more could soon be possible, thanks to a new animal hair-inspired material developed at MIT.  Read More

Breathing on a nanoscale-printed material reveals a hidden image of Marilyn Monroe

Allowing consumers to identify counterfeit goods is a tricky and expensive problem, as many security measures such as holograms might be easily mimicked by counterfeiters. A new nanoscale printing technique, however, allows researchers to create labels that reveal a "watermarked" image when breathed upon by the consumer. The labels are scalable and durable, and can be applied to many surfaces, yet are beyond the hands of those who might try to mimic them to fool consumers.  Read More

The visual microphone can reconstruct sounds from video images, such as subtly-vibrating p...

If you've ever had the feeling that you’re being listened to by chip bags, spied on by your houseplants, and eavesdropped by chocolate bar wrappers, then you may not be paranoid; you may just be up on the latest technology. That’s because a team of scientists led by MIT that includes participants from Microsoft, and Adobe has created a "visual microphone" that uses a computer algorithm to analyze and reconstruct audio signals from objects in a video image.  Read More

The sound energy forms a 3D acoustic bottle of high-pressure walls and a null region in th...

Using a technique that has possible applications in acoustic cloaking, sonic levitation, ultrasonic imaging, and particle manipulation, scientists at the University of California Berkeley claim to have produced a "bottle" beam of acoustic energy in open air that can precisely redirect sound waves. Able to bend these waves along set trajectories without the need for waveguides or other mechanical assistance, the bottle beam is also able to flow around objects in its path while maintaining its shape.  Read More

An original photo of a paper crane (left) and an artificially-rotated version of it

Many people are already annoyed when characters on TV cop shows "zoom in and enhance" on a photo, to reveal a level of detail that could never really have been captured by the camera. Thanks to software developed at Carnegie Mellon University, however, it's now possible to actually turn objects in a photo around ... seemingly revealing sides of them that were facing away from the camera when the picture was taken.  Read More

From left – Sydney Schreppler, Dan Stamper-Kurn and Nicolas Spethmann were part of a team ...

Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Berkeley have measured what is believed to be the smallest force yet recorded – 42 yoctonewtons, or a septillionth of a newton.  Read More

A lab mouse body, one week after after the start of the PARS process – the arrow in the mi...

Ordinarily, when scientists want to see specific cells within a piece of biological tissue, they first have to remove that tissue from the body, slice it very thin, then examine those two-dimensional slices using a microscope. Imagine, though, if the tissue could be made transparent – seeing tagged cells within it would be sort of like looking at three-dimensional bubbles inside an ice cube. Well, that's just what a team at Caltech have done using a technique known as PARS, or perfusion-assisted agent release in situ.  Read More

Scientists suggest looking for industrial pollution as a new way of searching for extrater...

According to researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), we might soon be able to detect hints of technologically advanced alien civilizations by measuring high levels of polluting gases in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets. The approach should become viable soon after the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is launched in late 2018.  Read More

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