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Science

A Japanese team has developed the Omni-Crawler, a crawler-type vehicle that can move in al...

When the need to move super-heavy objects arises, short, squat crawlers are usually deployed to get the job done. Unfortunately, that heavy lifting ability comes at the sacrifice of mobility (no sideways motion), so maneuvering objects into place can be a lengthy process. Recently, researchers from Japan's Osaka University (OU) rolled out an innovative battery-powered, remotely controlled prototype crawler that incorporates properties from an omni-directional wheel, the Omni-Ball (also designed by the OU team), to travel in virtually any direction desired with minimal energy loss. They dubbed it the Omni-Crawler and it's likely to change the way things are moved from now on.  Read More

A new technology is being developed, that would allow assembly lines to automatically reco...

Factories are a bit like living things. They are made up of a number of individual systems, and a change made to any one of those systems can have an affect on other systems down the line. In the case of living things, however, all of the systems are united by the organism’s DNA – if a change is made to one system, the others adjust automatically. Such is not the case in factories, however, where humans must go in and make all the changes manually. Not only is this costly and labor-intensive, but it can also result in errors. Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation are addressing this problem by trying to make factories more like living things – as they put it, they’re trying to decode “factory DNA.”  Read More

Professor Huai-Yong Zhu from QUT Chemistry with the titanate nanofiber that can remove rad...

Nuclear power plants are located close to sources of water, which is used as a coolant to handle the waste heat discharged by the plants. This means that water contaminated with radioactive material is often one of the problems to arise after a nuclear disaster. Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have now developed what they say is a world-first intelligent absorbent that is capable of removing radioactive material from large amounts of contaminated water, resulting in clean water and concentrated waste that can be stored more efficiently.  Read More

Researcher Jeff Tsao examines the set-up used to test diode lasers as an alternative to LE...

With incandescent light bulbs in the process of being phased out around the world, LEDs are one of the most promising technologies for taking over our day-to-day lighting needs – they use less energy, provide more light, contain less toxic substances, and are tougher than incandescents. That said, they may not be the one and only best choice. Lasers are even more efficient than LEDs at high amperages, although scientists have long believed that the quality of white light produced by diode lasers would be unpleasing to the human eye. According to a study recently carried out by Sandia National Laboratories, however, the human eye appears to like their light just fine.  Read More

A new study suggests that for thousands of years, humans have been exposed to nanoparticle...

Nanoparticles have been a key part of numerous recent technological advances. Biofuels, solar cells, medical imaging systems and even sunscreen - there's virtually no field of science or technology that they couldn't potentially transform. There are concerns however, about the risks posed by the countless tiny particles of materials such as silver, gold and titanium dioxide that are now entering our environment and our bodies, but a recent University of Oregon study suggests that if not completely harmless, nanoparticles are at least nothing new. In fact, it states, humans have been exposed to them for millennia.  Read More

Stanford's stretchable pressure-sensitive material incorporates coatings of tiny 'nano-spr...

Robots, prosthetic limbs and touchscreen displays could all end up utilizing technology recently developed at California’s Stanford University. A team led by Zhenan Bao, an associate professor of chemical engineering, has created a very stretchy skin-like pressure-sensitive material that can detect everything from a finger-pinch to over twice the pressure that would be exerted by an elephant standing on one foot. The sensitivity of the material is attained through two layers of carbon nanotubes, that act like a series of tiny springs.  Read More

A crumpled graphene ball created by Northwestern University researchers inspired by a tras...

We've written a lot about the potential of using graphene in electronics and materials science, but there are challenges when it comes to producing and utilizing these one-atom-thick sheets of carbon on a large scale. While a lack of an internal structure provides graphene with an abundance of surface area, sheets of the material tend to stick together like a stack of paper, resulting in a reduction in surface area and effectiveness. Now, taking inspiration from a trashcan of crumpled-up papers, Northwestern University researchers have developed a new form of graphene that can't be stacked.  Read More

One of the Sprite nanosatellites (Photo: KickSat)

Pssst, do you wanna buy a satellite? No, really – do you? Well, Zac Manchester would like to sell you one. Not only that, but he claims that the thing could be built and launched into orbit for just a few hundred dollars. For that price, however, you’re not going to be getting a big satellite. Manchester’s Sprite spacecraft are actually about the size of a couple of postage stamps, but they have tiny versions of all the basic equipment that the big ones have.  Read More

Scientists have used viruses to help create thin-film biomaterials, which may someday have...

It’s one of those enduring mysteries of nature – how can one biological substance end up becoming several different types of material? One example is collagen, a fibrous protein that can be made into body parts such as corneal tissue, cartilage, bone, and skin. In an effort to better understand such processes, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley decided to see if they could manipulate another biological building block into forming itself into different materials. They succeeded, using viruses known as M13 phages.  Read More

The Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research has developed a new system called Holo...

Does anyone remember the animated version of Star Trek from the 1970s? The Emmy-Award-winning series was the very first outing for the now familiar Holodeck, although it was called the recreation room back then. Despite some landmark advances in holographic technology in the years since - such as the University of Tokyo's Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display - nothing has come close to offering the kind of physical interactivity with virtual objects in a 3D environment promised by the collective imaginations of sci-fi writers of the past. While we're not at the Holodeck level just yet, members of the Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research have developed a new system called HoloDesk that allows users to pick up, move and even shoot virtual 3D objects, plus the system recognizes and responds to the presence of inanimate real-world objects like a sheet of paper or an upturned cup.  Read More

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