What's in a name? Earth's most abundant mineral finally gets one

When a mineral is the most abundant on the planet, (making up an estimated 38 percent of the Earth's entire volume, in fact), you would think that someone would have given it a name by now. But things are never as simple as they seem. Despite being so prevalent, the substance in question has only ever existed in synthetic form until recently, and the first naturally-occurring example of it didn't even come from beneath the ground; it arrived from outer space.Read More


Ocean gliding robots used to study melting Antarctic sheet ice

The use of "ocean gliders" for conducting research in oceanic conditions not ideal for regular methods has been catching on in the scientific community. Examples of this have been seen in the detection of endangered whales in the North Atlantic and a study of the Atlantic sturgeon. Researchers have now turned their robotic ocean helpers towards Antarctica, to study the rapidly-melting ice sheets on the coast of the western part of that polar land mass. Read More


PARS tech turns bodies transparent

Ordinarily, when scientists want to see specific cells within a piece of biological tissue, they first have to remove that tissue from the body, slice it very thin, then examine those two-dimensional slices using a microscope. Imagine, though, if the tissue could be made transparent – seeing tagged cells within it would be sort of like looking at three-dimensional bubbles inside an ice cube. Well, that's just what a team at Caltech have done using a technique known as PARS, or perfusion-assisted agent release in situ. Read More


New technique could boost internet speeds tenfold

Researchers at Aalborg University, MIT and Caltech have developed a new mathematically-based technique that can boost internet data speeds by up to 10 times, by making the nodes of a network much smarter and more adaptable. The advance also vastly improves the security of data transmissions, and could find its way into 5G mobile networks, satellite communications and the Internet of Things. Read More


Fractal nanostructures used to build new supermaterials

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology are developing a disruptive manufacturing process that combines nanoscale effects and ad-hoc architectural design to build new supermaterials from the ground up. The materials can be designed to meet predetermined criteria such as weighing only a tiny fraction of their macroscopic counterpart, displaying extreme plasticity, or featuring outstanding mechanical strength.Read More


Caltech’s chips survive laser armageddon thanks to self-healing powers

Although you are fairly unlikely to start zapping your gadgets with high-power lasers any time soon, scientists are already hard at work trying to make electronics immune to such cruelty. In another in a series of self-healing electronics breakthroughs, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) demonstrated chips capable of dealing not only with laser-inflicted physical damage but also with far more common ailments such as aging, power fluctuations, changes in temperature or load mismatch. Read More


NASA considers putting an asteroid into orbit around the Moon

To paraphrase an old saying, if the astronaut can’t go to the asteroid, the the asteroid must come to the astronaut. In a study released by the Keck Institute for Space Studies, researchers outlined a mission to tow an asteroid into lunar orbit by 2025 using ion propulsion and a really big bag. The idea is to bring an asteroid close to Earth for easy study and visits by astronauts without the hazards and expense of a deep space mission.Read More


Nanofocusing device shrinks light beams

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a nanofocusing waveguide, a tiny passive plasmonic device which is capable of concentrating light onto a spot a few nanometers in size. In so doing, they have sidestepped the diffraction-limited nature of light, which normally prevents focusing light to a spot smaller than its own wavelength. This remarkable feat may lead to new optoelectronic applications in computing, communications, and imaging. Read More


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