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Engineers have designed an experiment that uses Lego blocks to determine a fundamental ato...

Lego is a popular Christmas gift, and young and old alike can derive hours of pleasure building with those little plastic blocks. But, like a lot of playthings, the novelty wears off soon enough and you find yourself drifting back to watch Christmas TV re-runs. But what if you could use that Lego to construct real scientific equipment; would that maintain your enthusiasm? Well hang on to your plastic blocks, because engineers have designed an experiment that uses Lego and a few other bits and pieces that allows any keen tinkerer to build a device that not only determines Planck's Constant but may also help quantify the international standard unit of mass.  Read More

A genetically-inherited microbe naturally found in the gut that is more common in thin peo...

A new study has determined that not only are bacteria naturally found in the gut involved in obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, but they are genetically inherited. Researchers at King's College London and Cornell University identified a highly-heritable bacterial family that is more common in individuals with low body weight and that could pave the way for genetics-based personalized probiotic therapies for obesity-related diseases.  Read More

The discovery of a complex organic molecule in space suggests the origins of life can be f...

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) group of radio telescopes have discovered a carbon-based molecule with a branched structure – a common feature in molecules that are required for life to form. Contained within a giant gas cloud in the star-forming region of Sagittarius B2, the molecule of isopropyl cyanide is the first hint that other complex molecules may form in space before finding their way to the surface of planets.  Read More

The team behind the Robo Brain project (Aditya Jami, Kevin Lee, Prof. Ashutosh Saxena, Ash...

One of the steps towards to making robots into the all powerful overlords envisioned in books and movies is to teach them all human knowledge. A project named Robo Brain can do this without any help from humans, trawling the web in search of information and then sharing it with robots.  Read More

Adding certain salts to the anodes of lithium-based batteries has been found to increase t...

Salt has long been used to preserve meat, and now researchers at Cornell University have found that adding certain salts to the anodes of lithium-based batteries can also increase their useful life by a very large factor, solving long-standing problems associated with cell degradation. The advance can be adapted to other metal-based chemistries, including the lighter and more energy dense lithium-sulfur cells and, according to the researchers, might see commercial applications in as little as three years.  Read More

A light-equipped UAV moves to maintain the desired lighting on the model

As any professional photographer knows, setting up lights can be a hassle. This is often the case in the studio, but especially when shooting on location. Before too long, however, it may be possible to use hovering autonomous drones as light sources. In fact, that's just what a team from MIT and Cornell University has already done. Their system not only does away with light stands, but the light-equipped aircraft automatically moves to compensate for movements of the model or photographer.  Read More

Cornell researchers have developed a robot that follows spoken instructions to learn new t...

Many robots today are able to follow verbal instructions. However, the robot first has to be programmed with software code that allows it to respond to those instructions in some predetermined way, and that software must be added to every time the robot's task list is enhanced. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just avoid all that messy fiddling about with software and talk to a machine as we would a human and explain what we wanted it to do? Researchers at Cornell University thought so, that’s why they designed and built a learning robot as part of their "Tell me Dave" project.  Read More

According to a survey conducted by astronomers at Cornell University, the Milky Way may be...

A survey conducted by astronomers at Cornell University has taken into account the characteristics of 637 known exoplanets and elaborated a Biological Complexity Index (BCI) to assess the relative probability of finding complex life on them. Their data supports the view that as many as one hundred million planets scattered around the Milky Way, and perhaps more, could support life beyond the microbial stage.  Read More

Pitch is controlled by raising and lowering the hands, while the volume can be cranked up ...

Some take their air guitar playing more seriously than others, but even for those exerting the most energy, those perfectly struck imaginary chords are heard by nobody's ears except their own. Aura, an electronic instrument that translates hand gestures into music, could be just what these highly animated faux musicians need to get a little more reward for their efforts.  Read More

The Versaball grasps a shock absorber

Back in 2010, we first heard about a clever device known as the robotic universal jamming gripper. With its business end composed of a party balloon filled with coffee grounds, it could form a secure grip around objects of varying sizes and shapes. Now, that device has been commercialized – although incorporating higher-tech materials than balloons and coffee.  Read More

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