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University student maps plasma tubes in the sky

By - June 3, 2015 2 Pictures

Using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in the Western Australia desert, a Sydney University student, Cleo Loi, has discovered enormous plasma pipes in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Thought to be responsible for possible radio interference with satellite navigation systems, the presence of these objects has been predicted for over 60 years, but never before seen. By imaginatively using the radio telescope to observe in 3D, Loi was able to image large areas of the sky using the fast photography capabilities of the MWA to produce a movie that shows the motions of the plasma in real-time.

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Could "brainprints" replace passwords, fingerprints and retinal scans?

By - June 3, 2015 1 Picture

Passwords are the bane of many a computer user's existence. Experts recommend long strings of characters containing a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols that may be difficult to crack, but can also be difficult to remember. Despite there being simple techniques for creating difficult-to-crack passwords that are easy to remember and horror stories of identify theft abound, the top two most common passwords remain "12345" and "password". But a study out of Binghampton University in New York suggests brainwaves could be a promising alternative to verify a user's identity.

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X-raying meat could guarantee its tenderness

Although many retailers already display the tenderness of meat cuts on their packaging, Norwegian research group SINTEF has developed what it believes is a better system. Instead of relying on human interpretations of tenderness, it uses x-rays to give a less subjective and more accurate rating.

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Squishy battery created using wood

By - June 1, 2015 1 Picture

Wood pulp-derived nanocellulose is turning out to be pretty useful stuff. Previously, we'd heard how it could be used in things like high-strength lightweight composites, oil-absorbing sponges and biodegradable computer chips. Now, researchers from Sweden and the US have used the material to build soft-bodied batteries that are more shock- and stress-resistant than their traditional hard counterparts.

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New SUSTAIN wind-wave research center creates roaring indoor hurricanes

By - May 31, 2015 1 Picture

Scientific curiosity around how air interacts with the ocean in the event of powerful storms has inspired a number of wind-emulating facilities around the world, from a high-speed wind-wave tank at Kyoto University to the Hydrodynamics Laboratory at Imperial College London. But just as hurricane season kicks off in the US, a team at the University of Miami is looking to step things up a notch. A freshly built indoor tank designed to study category five storms is now open for business, and as the only one of its kind in the world, is hoped to offer a new understanding of these destructive superstorms.

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Carnegie scientists use airborne observatory to map the chemistry of the Amazon

By - May 26, 2015 3 Pictures

Researchers have used data collected by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to uncover chemical variation in plant life across the lowland Peruvian Amazon. Quite apart from giving rise to some of the most stunning scientific imagery we've seen of the region, the study provides key information for understanding the rainforest, and assessing our future impact on it.

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