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Science

Schematic of MIT's Photosystem-I solar energy harvesting chip

Research scientist Andreas Mershin has a dream to bring inexpensive solar power to the masses, especially those in developing countries. After years of research, he and his team at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, along with University of Tennessee biochemist Barry Bruce, have worked out a process that extracts functional photosynthetic molecules from common yard and agricultural waste. If all goes well, in a few years it should be possible to gather up a pile of grass clippings, mix it with a blend of cheap chemicals, paint it on your roof and begin producing electricity. Talk about redefining green power plants!  Read More

West Coast Chill is being touted as the world's first beverage to be sold in a self-chilli...

Miller Beer may have announced its plans to do so several years ago, but now someone else is actually going through with it ... releasing a beverage in a self-chilling can, that is. At the end of the first quarter of this year, Joseph Company International will be launching its West Coast Chill all-natural energy drink, which will come in the company's patented Chill Can. When buyers press a tab on the can, the temperature of the liquid inside will decrease by 30ºF within three minutes.  Read More

Scientists have developed technology that is able to reconstruct words heard by test subje...

Last September, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley announced that they had developed a method of visually reconstructing images from peoples' minds, by analyzing their brain activity. Much to the dismay of tinfoil hat-wearers everywhere, researchers from that same institution have now developed a somewhat similar system, that is able to reconstruct words that people have heard spoken to them. Instead of being used to violate our civil rights, however, the technology could instead allow the vocally-disabled to "speak."  Read More

SLAC's LCLS is the world's most powerful X-ray laser (Photo: University of Oxford/Sam Vink...

To say things are really heating up at the US Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory isn't just a bad pun, it's one hell (sorry) of an understatement. An Oxford-led team used the Stanford-based facility that houses the world's most powerful X-ray laser to create and probe a 2-million-degree Celsius (or about 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit) piece of matter. The experiment allowed the scientists the closest look yet at what conditions might be like in the heart of the Sun, other stars and planets.  Read More

Scientists have successfully reduced the sperm counts of male rats to zero using widely-av...

Using commercially-available ultrasound technology, scientists have successfully reduced sperm count in rats to a level that would cause infertility in men. Researchers managed to reduce motile sperm to 3 million per cauda epididymis (where sperm are stored), which equates to a Sperm Count Index of zero, measured two weeks after treatment. The research could re-open the door to the investigation of ultrasonic techniques as a practical human contraceptive.  Read More

Chemists have created artificial self-assembling cell membranes that could help shed light...

The cell membrane is one of the most important characteristics of a cell because it separates the interior of all cells from the extracellular environment and controls the movement of substances in and out of the cell. In a move that brings mankind another step closer to being able to create artificial life forms from scratch, chemists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Harvard University have created artificial self-assembling cell membranes using a novel chemical reaction. The chemists hope their creation will help shed light on the origins of life.  Read More

Researchers have demonstrated a process relying on quantum physics they claim enables perf...

As numerous companies continue their push to get us to entrust our data to the cloud, there are many still justifiably concerned about the security of cloud computing-based services. Now an international team of scientists have demonstrated that perfectly secure cloud computing is possible by combining the power of quantum computing with the security of quantum cryptography. They carried out what they claim is the first demonstration of “blind quantum computing,” in which a quantum computation was carried out with the input, computation, and output all remaining unknown to the computer, and therefore, also any eavesdroppers.  Read More

Dr Nair shows his one micron thick graphene oxide film research sample (Photo: University ...

Ever since University of Manchester scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov first isolated flakes of graphene in 2004 using that most high-tech pieces of equipment - adhesive tape - the one-atom sheet of carbon has continued to astound researchers with its remarkable properties. Now Professor Sir Andre Geim, (he's now not only a Nobel Prize winner but also a Knight Bachelor), has led a team that has added superpermeability with respect to water to graphene's ever lengthening list of extraordinary characteristics.  Read More

Scientists have unlocked the secret to scorpions' ability to withstand sand-blasting, and ...

As any graffiti-removal specialist will tell you, sand-blasting is definitely an effective method of removing substances that have bonded onto hard surfaces. Unfortunately, sand or other abrasive particles suspended in air or liquid also have a way of eroding not just spray paint, but pretty much anything they encounter. As a result, items such as helicopter rotor blades, airplane propellers, rocket motor nozzles and pipes regularly wear out and need to replaced. Interestingly enough, however, scorpions live their entire lives subjected to blowing sand, yet they never appear to ... well, to erode. A group of scientists recently set out to discover their secret, so it could be applied to man-made materials.  Read More

The plasmonic metamaterial cloak (top) and some of components used to make it (Photo: Andr...

We’ve previously seen – or should that be “not seen” – invisibility cloaks in the laboratory that are able to render two-dimensional objects invisible to microwaves. Such feats relies on the use of metamaterials – man-made materials that exhibit optical properties not found in nature and have the ability to guide light around an object. Now researchers at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) claim to have brought invisibility cloaks that operate at visible light frequencies one step closer by cloaking a three-dimensional object standing in free space with the use of plasmonic metamaterials.  Read More

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