Highlights from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show


Scientists have created an underwater speaker for use in studying dolphin communication (P...

While there’s little doubt that dolphins are saying something to one another with all their clicks, squeals and whistles, we’re still not entirely sure just what it is that they’re communicating. We may be getting closer to figuring it out, however, as Japanese scientists have created an underwater speaker that’s capable of playing back the creatures’ entire acoustic range. The next step - see how they respond.  Read More

Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a means of converti...

Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a means of converting mechanical energy into electrical energy using a harmless, specially engineered virus. By simply tapping a finger on a virus-coated electrode the size of a postage stamp, the scientists were able to produce enough current to drive a liquid crystal display, albeit a very small one. The scientists claim that this is the first time that the piezoelectrical properties of a biological material have been harnessed.  Read More

A drop of liquid sits on the textured silicon surface that has arced rungs to guide the dr...

Lately we’re hearing more and more about tiny medical and environmental diagnostic devices, that can perform a variety of tests using very small fluid samples. Working with such small samples does present a challenge, however – how do you thoroughly mix tiny amounts of different fluids, or wrangle individual drops for analysis? According to a team of scientists from the University of Washington, the answer lies in the lotus leaf.  Read More

A depiction of Blue Origin's Space Vehicle

When it comes to spacecraft that may take the place of the now-defunct space shuttle, it would probably be fair to say that most people probably think of the SpaceX Dragon. It’s sometimes easy to forget, however, that SpaceX is a private company, competing against others for NASA’s business. One of those competitors is Washington state-based Blue Origin, established by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos (SpaceX was co-founded by Elon Musk, of PayPal fame). Although the company has been rather secretive about the space vehicle that it’s developing, it recently announced that the design has done well in a series of wind tunnel tests.  Read More

Researchers at MIT and Georgia Tech have created a robotic arm that automates whole-cell p...

A group of researchers at MIT and Georgia Tech has built a robotic arm that can automate whole-cell patch clamping, a complicated technique that normally requires great manual dexterity and takes researchers months to master. Once streamlined, this technology will monitor and record the electrical signals generated by the neurons in a living brain, to help uncover the secret inner workings of the human mind - or at least, in the not-so-distant future, of a lab rat's.  Read More

NIST's quantum simulator illuminated by fluorescing ions (Photo: Britten/NIST)

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have built a quantum simulator that contains hundreds of qubits - quite a jump from the the 2-8 qubits found in state-of-the-art digital quantum computers. The simulator has passed a series of important benchmarking tests and scientists are poised to study problems in material science that are impossible to model using classical computers.  Read More

A sample of the biomimetic film, and a morpho butterfly

Butterfly wing material is somewhat like spider silk, in that they’re both animal-produced substances which scientists are very interested in copying. In the case of butterfly wings, it’s their ability to brilliantly reflect light in a variety of iridescent colors that could prove particularly useful to humans. Researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) are reporting success in replicating the reflective properties of the insects’ wings, using tiny glass beads.  Read More

The departing Space Shuttle Atlantis captured this image of the Hubble Space Telescope dur...

From Earth's perspective, on June 5 and 6, Venus will pass across the face of the Sun. By observing the tiny fraction of sunlight that passes through Venus's atmosphere using the Hubble Space Telescope, it is hoped that the planet's atmospheric makeup can be determined. Though we already know the nature of Venus's atmosphere, it is hoped the event will help astronomers hone techniques, already in use, that may one day help to identify Earth-like planets in far-away solar systems. The catch? Hubble cannot observe the Sun directly. Instead it will look at the Moon to observe reflected light.  Read More

One of OriginOil's 75 GPM (300 LPM) flocculation units

OriginOil and Algasol, two companies working to develop algae into renewable fuel, have announced a collaboration on growth and harvest technology. The companies hope the partnership will help them reduce cost and improve performance, therefore increasing commercial prospects for algae as fuel source. Harvesting algae is one of the main cost drivers associated with this type of raw material. Algae are microscopic and live in suspension on liquid. When the time comes to harvesting it, the water/algae ratio can be as high as 1,000/1. In order to make it suitable for commercial applications, that ratio needs to be reduced to around 10/1.  Read More

3D X-ray image of a twenty micron lithium-ion battery electrode (Image: Brookhaven Nationa...

A new X-ray microscope at Brookhaven National Laboratory is being used to create unparalleled high-resolution 3D images of the inner structure of materials. Using techniques similar to taking a very small-scale medical CAT (computer-assisted tomography) scan, the full field transmission x-ray microscope (TXM) enables scientists to directly observe structures spanning 25 nanometers - three thousand times smaller than a red blood cell - by splicing together thousands of images into a single 3D X-ray image with "greater speed and precision than ever before." This capability is expected to power rapid advances in many fields, including energy research, environmental sciences, biology, and national defense.  Read More

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