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The 'Questionable Observer Detector' is a computer system that is able to identify people ...

Chances are, you’ve seen at least one or two TV shows in which the police examine news footage shot at several different crime scenes, and recognize the same person’s face showing up repeatedly in the crowds of onlookers ... the ol’ “criminal returning to the scenes of their crimes” scenario. Realistically, it’s pretty hard to believe that one person could look through all that footage, and remember all those faces. It turns out that a computer could do it, however, as scientists at Indiana’s University of Notre Dame have illustrated with their “Questionable Observer Detector," or QuOD.  Read More

A new form of superhard carbon discovered by scientists could have advantages over diamond...

Carbon is the fourth-most-abundant element in the universe and comes in a wide variety of forms, called allotropes, including graphite, graphene, and the hardest natural material known to man, diamonds. Now scientists have discovered a new form of carbon that is capable of withstanding extreme pressure stresses previously only observed in diamond. Unlike crystalline forms of carbon such as diamonds, whose hardness is highly dependent upon the direction in which the crystal is formed, the new form of carbon is amorphous meaning it could be equally strong in all directions.  Read More

A new system uses lasers to polish hard surfaces, and it can do so in as little as one ten...

When it comes to laborious, monotonous tasks that are typically performed by hand, the polishing of hard materials has got to rank right near the top. Although a really lustrous shine may still require the human touch, scientists have now developed a process for getting a “good enough” shine, using lasers. Instead of removing a fine layer of the material’s surface, which is what traditional buffers and polishes do, the lasers melt it.  Read More

The virtual arm controlled by a monkey selects an object based on its virtual texture

In a development that could have huge implications for quadriplegics, paraplegics and those with prosthetic limbs, researchers from Duke University and the Ecole Polytechnic Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed technology that has allowed monkeys to control a virtual arm and touch and feel virtual objects using only their brain activity. The researchers say it is the first-ever demonstration of a two-way interaction between a primate brain and a virtual body and could lead to robotic exoskeletons that not only that allows paralyzed patients to walk again, but to also feel the ground beneath them.  Read More

Fraunhofer has developed a system that automatically cultivates and observes cell cultures...

Laboratory technicians, in many different fields of research, spend a lot of time preparing and analyzing cell cultures. The process involves putting cells in a petri dish, adding nutrients, checking on cell growth, and then transferring cells to a separate container once sufficient colonies have been established. In an effort to streamline the laboratory workload, however, German research group Fraunhofer has now created an automated system that performs all of those tasks with no human intervention.  Read More

A new 'invisibility cloak' utilizes the same effect that causes mirages to appear (Image: ...

You have no doubt seen mirages on the distant surfaces of hot highways before, looking like pools of water shimmering on the asphalt. Such illusions are caused by hot air above the road, which refracts light waves coming down into it from the cooler air above – in other words, the supposed “water” is actually the sky, its image being bent toward you by the low-lying hot air. Well, scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas have put the same principle to work in the lab, and created an invisibility cloak that can be easily switched on and off.  Read More

The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2011 has been awarded to three scientists, whose research p...

For almost a hundred years, it has been widely accepted that the Universe is expanding, and that it’s been doing so ever since the Big Bang occurred approximately 14 billion years ago. It was initially assumed that the rate of expansion was slowly declining. What came as a surprise to many scientists, however, was the relatively recent announcement that the rate is in fact increasing. That was the remarkable conclusion reached by three physicists located in two countries, and it has just earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2011.  Read More

Professor Roland Winston and his student team, with an array of External Compound Paraboli...

Given that it typically gets hottest outside when the sunlight is most direct, it would make sense to have air conditioners that were powered by the thermal energy from solar rays. Unfortunately, collecting enough of that energy in a cost-effective manner can be challenging. Now, however, a team of University of California, Merced students have created a solar thermal collection system that is said to be significantly simpler, cheaper and more efficient than anything that’s come before.  Read More

The ePetri prototype uses an image sensor and a smartphone's LED display as a scanning lig...

When it comes to laboratory equipment, it doesn’t get much more basic than the humble petri dish. Aside from moving from glass to plastic and the addition of rings on their lids and bases that allows them to be stacked, the petri dish has remained largely unchanged since its invention by German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri and his assistant Robert Koch in the late 1800s. Now researchers at the California Institute of technology (Caltech) have dragged the petri dish into the 21st Century by incorporating an image sensor like those found in mobile phone cameras that does away with the need for bulky microscopes.  Read More

Japanese scientists received Ig Nobel for chemistry by determining the airborne density of...

A Wasabi Smoke Alarm, the impact of urinary urgency on decision-making and the discovery that a certain kind of beetle copulates with beer bottles were among the achievements honored in this year's Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University.  Read More

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