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Science

It may indeed be a First World problem, but using a mouse or arrow key to scroll through blocks of computer text is a bit of a hassle – particularly for people lacking the use of their ams. That's why scientists from Germany's Saarland University and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence have developed a sort of teleprompter-like system, which automatically scrolls text at the rate that it's being read. Read More
Undersea oil pipelines are typically inspected about once every five years ... but what happens if one of them gives out between those inspections? That's where the Norwegian SmartPipe project comes in. Initiated in 2006, it's aimed at developing self-monitoring pipelines that continuously transmit real-time status reports to shore. Read More
In 1905, Albert Einstein provided an explanation of the photoelectric effect – that various metals emit electrons when light is shined on them – by suggesting that a beam of light is not simply a wave of electromagnetic radiation, but is also made up of discrete packets of energy called photons. Though a long accepted tenet in physics, no experiment has ever directly observed this wave/particle duality. Now, however, researchers at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland claim to have captured an image of this phenomenon for the first time ever. Read More
You've probably heard about pens with conductive ink, that allow users to draw circuits onto materials such as paper. Now, researchers at the University of California, San Diego have gone a step or two farther – they've created "bio-inks" that could be used to draw sensors onto a variety of surfaces, using an ordinary ballpoint pen. Read More
It's a simple fact that the more fluid an oil is, the easier it is to pump. That's why oil companies typically heat sections of pipeline, to reduce the viscosity of the crude oil traveling within. Generating that heat still requires a fair amount of energy, however, plus the oil's reduced viscosity produces turbulence it its flow. Temple University's Prof. Rongjia Tao has developed what may be a better alternative – a device that electrifies the oil. Read More
The National Oceanography Centre in the UK has used data on the Arctic Ocean gathered by Royal Navy submarines to study the effects of a possible future shrinking of the ice cap. This meeting of oceanography and military intelligence has seen declassified data from the 1990s analyzed to gain insights into how diminished ice cover affects turbulence in arctic waters. Read More
Solar cells don't at first glance have any relation to a tiny structure in the eye that makes our central vision sharp, but that tiny structure – called the fovea centralis – may be the key to a huge boost in solar cell efficiency. A team of scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light took the underlying mechanisms that guide the fovea and adapted them to silicon as a surface for collecting light in solar cells. Read More
The humble limpet has been receiving a lot of press lately, as scientists recently determined that the material from which its teeth are made is officially the world's strongest natural material. Now, an MIT/Harvard study suggests that a specific type of limpet's shell may hold the key to transparent displays that require no internal light source. Read More
A new redox flow battery developed at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) more than doubles the amount of energy that this type of cell can pack in a given volume, approaching the numbers of lithium-ion batteries. If the device reaches mass production, it could find use in fast-charging transportation, portable electronics and grid storage. Read More
Material scientists at Stanford University have developed a highly effective semitransparent air filter that can collect 99 percent of the very small PM2.5 particles, considered the most harmful to the human respiratory tract. The low-cost filters, which don’t require power to function, could be used to build better protective facemasks, window screens, filtration systems in hospitals, and perhaps even to reduce pollution from cars and industrial smoke stacks. Read More
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