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Gizmag joins the Rebellion at the Star Wars Identities exhibit

By - November 5, 2012 38 Pictures
Here at Gizmag, we like to focus on the very latest developments in science and technology. That said, when I had the chance to cover the new Star Wars Identities exhibition today, well ... it was an opportunity too good to pass up. The show features approximately 200 original props, costumes and models used in all six films, many of which have never been displayed in public before. Using interactive technology, however, it also teaches us how our own identities are formed, using the Star Wars characters as examples. Read More
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Cardio-powered pacemakers: human heart more than up to the challenge

By - November 5, 2012 1 Picture
Research using a prototype piezoelectric energy-harvesting device developed by the University of Michigan suggests that the human heart provides more than enough energy to power a pacemaker, according to a statement released by the American Heart Association. The research has led to fresh speculation that piezoelectricity, electricity converted from mechanical stresses undergone by a generator, may one day provide an alternative to battery-powered pacemakers that need to be surgically replaced as often as every five years. Read More
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Man to climb Chicago's Willis Tower using thought-controlled bionic leg

By - November 2, 2012 9 Pictures
Despite losing most of his right leg in a motorcycle accident, Zac Vawter (31) intends to climb all 103 flights of stairs at Chicago's Willis Tower this Sunday. He's been helping researchers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) test a cutting-edge bionic leg that is controlled by his own nerve impulses. He can walk, kick a ball, and climb stairs by simply thinking of what he wants his leg to do. Read More
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Two-part “stutter jumps” could reduce jumping robot power consumption

By - November 2, 2012 1 Picture
Researchers at the Georgia Tech School of Physics say they have developed a novel jumping strategy for hopping robots that reduces power consumption. Associate Professor Daniel Goldman and Graduate Student Jeffrey Aguilar analyzed almost 20,000 jumps made by a simple robot designed to test jumping dynamics and discovered that a so-called "stutter jump" – where a robot builds up momentum by first making smaller hops before a big jump – requires a tenth of the power normally expended when performing the bigger jump from scratch. Read More
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Shale gas and atmospheric CO2: help or hindrance?

By - October 31, 2012 1 Picture
Since peaking in 2005, US domestic energy CO2 emissions have fallen by 8.6 percent. A new report asserts that up to half of this reduction may be down to "energy switching," as generators switch from coal to shale gas (partly on cost grounds), which emits about half the CO2 when burned. Yet the same report, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, questions the wisdom of touting shale gas as a low-carbon technology, with its authors actually asserting that "the exploitation of shale gas reserves is likely to increase total emissions." How so? Read More
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AMP-Foot 2.0 prosthesis mimics human ankle's spring

By - October 31, 2012 2 Pictures
The majority of protheses available today that replace the lower leg, ankle, and foot are passive devices that store energy in an elastic element (similar to a coiled spring) at the beginning of a step and release during push-off to give you some added boost. While this type of prosthetic is energy efficient, it doesn't replicate the full power we get from our muscles. In order to provide that kind of energy an actuator is required, and these are often heavy and bulky. Researchers at Belgium's Vrije Universiteit Brussel have streamlined the technology in a device they call the AMP-Foot (Ankle Mimicking Prosthetic Foot). Read More
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IBM brings carbon nanotubes a step closer to usurping silicon

By - October 30, 2012 3 Pictures
Silicon’s reign as the standard material for microchip semiconductors may be coming to an end. Using standard semiconductor processes, scientists from IBM Research have succeeded in precisely placing over 10,000 working transistors made from carbon nanotubes onto a wafer surface – and yes, the resulting chip was tested, and it worked. According to IBM, “These carbon devices are poised to replace and outperform silicon technology allowing further miniaturization of computing components and leading the way for future microelectronics.” Read More
— Science

Oak Ridge unveils Titan, the world's most powerful supercomputer

By - October 29, 2012 6 Pictures
The U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has just introduced Titan, the world’s most powerful supercomputer. The size of a basketball court and using enough power to run a small town, the water-cooled circuits of Titan are capable of 20 petaflops or 20,000 trillion calculations per second. This makes Titan ten times more powerful than ORNL’s previous computer, Jaguar and 200,000 times more than the average PC. What’s more, it achieves this through components originally created for gaming computers. Read More
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