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The Dragon spacecraft, held by the ISS manipulator arm (Image: NASA)

Well, it’s official. Just moments ago, the SpaceX Dragon became the first-ever privately-made spacecraft to reach the International Space Station (ISS). “The International Space Station Expedition 31 crew successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon capsule with the station's robotic arm at 9:56 AM EDT,” NASA has stated. “The feat came 3 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds after the mission's launch. The station was 251 miles over northwest Australia when capture occurred.”  Read More

Lasers have long been used for military applications, as in this US Air Force test, now th...

Weeds are pesky things. They grow everywhere and, by definition, where they’re not wanted. Whether a large-scale farmer or a weekend gardener, everyone who has tried to raise crops has wished that there was a ray gun that could just blast the wretched things out of existence. Now, thanks in part to researchers from the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany, that frustrated daydream is closer to reality. Through the use of low-powered infrared lasers, the team has found a way to inhibit weed growth without harming neighboring plants, providing an alternative to expensive, hazardous and environmentally-damaging chemicals.  Read More

Researchers have demonstrated a tractor beam using a Bessel beam (not pictured) is theoret...

Last year, we looked at three potential “tractor beam” technologies being evaluated by NASA to deliver planetary or atmospheric particles to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft. At the time, the third of these, which involved the use of a Bessel beam, only existed on paper. Researchers at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have now proven the theory behind the concept, demonstrating how a tractor beam can be realized in the real world – albeit on a very small scale.  Read More

A view of the Dragon spacecraft, as seen from the International Space Station today (Photo...

After launching this Tuesday at 3:44 Eastern Daylight Time, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is now in its third day of low-Earth orbit. The company reports that everything has been going smoothly so far, with “a series of milestones” having been set as the vehicle approaches the International Space Station (ISS).  Read More

UCL researchers have designed a silicon oxide-based memory chip that is faster than flash ...

These days, Flash memory is almost the defacto standard for data storage in consumer devices, being found in everything from PCs and digital cameras, to smartphones and USB thumb drives. But a team of researchers at University College of London (UCL) has developed a new type of memory chip that is much faster than Flash memory, while also offering greater storage densities and requiring much less power. Could the days of Flash memory's dominance be numbered?  Read More

Transmission electron microscopy image of carbon nitride created by the reaction of carbon...

While there are plenty of ways to make carbon-based products from CO2, these methods usually require a lot of energy because the CO2 molecules are so stable. If the energy comes from the burning of fossil fuels, then the net result will be more CO2 entering the atmosphere. Now a material scientist at Michigan Technological University has discovered a chemical reaction that not only soaks up CO2, but also produces useful chemicals along with significant amounts of energy.  Read More

NEMS mass scale which can detect the mass of a single proton (Photo: CIT)

A sprocket of research engineers (yes, apparently that's the collective noun for a group of engineers) at the Catalan Institute of Technology (CIT) has succeeded in breaking the record for sensitivity of mass measurement. By measuring the resonant frequency of a short length of single carbon nanotube, masses as small as a single nucleon (proton or neutron), having a mass of about 1.7 yoctogram (1 yg = 10^-24 grams) were measured, thereby exhibiting a level of sensitivity several orders of magnitude better than previous devices. This new technology enables the detection and identification of individual atoms and molecules and tracing the fate of individual atoms in a chemical reaction.  Read More

The University of Barcelona's Bernat Codina and Andriy Lyasota study data from the wind-pr...

There’s wind in that thar sky ... That’s the sort of thing that – conceivably – might be wistfully said by someone who is tasked with looking for locations in which to locate wind turbines. Their job could soon be getting a little easier, however, thanks to a new balloon-based wind-prospecting system.  Read More

A prototype “inexact” computer chip that is around 15 times more efficient than current mi...

Last year, a team of U.S. researchers applied the pruning shears to computer chips to trim away rarely used portions of digital circuits. The result was chips that made the occasional mistake, but were twice as fast, used half as much energy, and were half the size of the original. Now, building on the same “less is more” idea, the researchers have built an “inexact” prototype silicon chip they claim is at least 15 times more efficient than current technology in terms of speed, energy consumption and size.  Read More

Map of Life is a new Google Maps-based website, which indicates the distribution of almost...

Ever wondered if a certain species of animal can be found where you live? The Map of Life website aims to answer this question. A Yale University-led project built on a Google Maps platform, it lists virtually all of the vertebrate animals that can be found at any one point in the world.  Read More

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