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The Robotic Refueling Mission module is successfully transferred from the Atlantis shuttle...

Repairing and refueling satellites robotically may seem rather mundane, especially when compared with moon landings, Mars rovers and the Hubble space telescope, but NASA's two-year Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) experiment, now underway on the International Space Station (ISS), turns out to be surprisingly complex. Designed to demonstrate that servicing working satellites with remotely-controlled robots is a feasible option, NASA, in conjunction with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), initiated the first of several RRM test tasks just a few days ago and the results look very promising.  Read More

Electronic microscopic image of a 'nanoforest,' with green tint added for contrast (Imge: ...

While hydrogen is considered a “clean” fuel because the only waste product it generates is water, the conventional way to produce it relies on electricity, which is usually produced through the burning of fossil fuels. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have now developed a “3D branched nanowire array” that they claim could cheaply and cleanly deliver hydrogen fuel on a mass scale.  Read More

Some realistic-looking 'meat,' created by Fraunhofer's vegetarian cutlet factory

There are a number of reasons that some people choose not to eat meat – for instance, they may not want to support the slaughter of animals, they may wish to avoid the health risks associated with consuming too much animal protein, or perhaps they’re not big fans of the environmental impact of raising livestock on a commercial scale. Unfortunately, if these people still want to eat meat-like foods, a lot of the meat alternatives currently available are kind of ... yucky. Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging, however, is working on a device nicknamed the “vegetarian cutlet factory.” It produces continuous slabs of veggie-based mock meat, which is reportedly quite similar to the real thing.  Read More

Scientists have created a self-healing hydrogel, that responds to the acidity of its envir...

Velcro is pretty handy stuff, but imagine if there was a soft, stretchy material with the same qualities. Well, now there is. Scientists from the University of California, San Diego have created a self-healing hydrogel that binds together in seconds, essentially copying the Velcro process at a molecular level. The new material could potentially find use in medical sutures, targeted drug delivery, industrial sealants and self-healing plastics.  Read More

Blocking a marijuana-like chemical in the brain could allow one to eat more, exercise less...

Unless you're a rodent, it's probably too early to get excited about the possibility of being able to eat all you want, be a couch potato and still not gain weight, but new research using a strain of specially-modified mice indicates that just such an unlikely scenario might one day be possible. Recently, a team of scientists from UC Irvine (UCI), Yale and Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy discovered they could bring this metabolic miracle about in the lab by blocking the actions of a marijuana-like compound that regulates energy metabolism.  Read More

One of Xinwei Wang's golden silk orbweaver spiders

Over the years, we’ve seen Spiderman use his webbing to catch villains, swing between buildings, and even parachute from great heights. In all that time, however, the opportunity never came up for him to use it to conduct heat. As it turns out, it would have been perfect for the job. Although materials from living things generally don’t conduct heat well, a team of scientists from Iowa State University have discovered that spider silk does so 800 times better than any other organic material ever tested. Because the silk is also very strong and stretchable, it could have a number of applications in human technology.  Read More

The AutoTutor computerized tutorial system is able to adjust its teaching style, according...

As proposed by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “flow” is an ideal psychological state in which we are engaged enough by a task not to find it boring, and yet not so challenged by it that we get discouraged. When learning new subjects, however, students often end up falling at one end or the other of that scale. Now, a new computerized tutoring system has been developed to keep students in the “flow” zone. It does so by monitoring their emotional state, then adjusting its teaching method to steer them away from boredom or frustration.  Read More

Scientists have developed a vortex gun that delivers electrically-charged rings of gas, an...

While something called a “vortex gun” might sound like a device from science fiction, the fact is that they have been available as novelties for years – if you’ve ever used a toy gun that shot out a smoke ring, then you’ve used a vortex gun. Lately, however, scientists from the Ohio-based Battelle R & D group have developed one that could have practical uses for people such as firefighters, exterminators and riot cops.  Read More

University of Tennessee researchers have invented a device that instantly detects diseases...

Infectious diseases these days seem to have gotten a lot of attention, with media hype and threats of pandemics often being portrayed in apocalyptic sci-fi movies. We all know that several types of these diseases can spread rapidly, and it is crucial that doctors be able to identify them quickly in order to prevent an epidemic. Unfortunately, current testing methods can take hours and even days, delaying the process of adequate prevention. It should then ease your mind to hear that researchers at the University of Tennessee have invented a device that can rapidly detect these unwanted afflictions.  Read More

Top half of 3D printed Thomas Jefferson statue (Photo: RedEye on Demand/Smithsonian/Studio...

What do you do when you're the world's largest museum but can display only 2 percent of the 137 million items in your collection (a mere 2.75 million) at any given time? In an effort to get more of their treasures into the public eye, specialists at the Smithsonian Institution's nineteen collective museums and galleries hit upon the solution of digitizing their collection and 3D printing key models and displays suitable for traveling exhibitions. It's a tall order, but one that's sure to give the rapidly blooming business of additive manufacturing a huge boost.  Read More

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