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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
— Science

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
— Science

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
— Science

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
— Science

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
— Science

Israeli scientists find way to see through frosted glass

By - October 28, 2012 4 Pictures
Taking a shower while secure in the knowledge that no one can see through the curtains may soon be a thing of the past. Researchers Ori Katz, Eran Small and Yaron Silberberg of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, have developed a method for de-scattering light to form coherent images in real time. In other words, they have found a way to look through shower curtains, frosted glass and other image-blurring materials. The technique may one day aid scientists in seeing through living tissue or around corners. Read More
— Science

Compact whole-body MRI scanner under consideration for ISS

By - October 26, 2012 10 Pictures
A multitalented group of engineers led by Professor Gordon Sarty is developing a compact Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner for spaceflight duty. The intent is to support space medicine research and astronaut health monitoring required for longer and more remote space missions. The first post of duty would be on the International Space Station (ISS), to monitor physiological changes occurring during long-duration missions. Sarty is Acting Chair of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. Read More
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