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Engineering

Children

Meccanoid G15 KS brings Meccano into the robot age

Meccano is one of those toys with a very strong nostalgia element, involving memories of hours spent bolting together a toy wheelbarrow or a coffee table-size Forth Bridge. But 21st century kids relate more to smartphones than traveling cranes, so Meccano has come up with its Meccanoid G15 KS – a kit robot that can be programmed using motion capture. Read More

Space

Portland State University creates zero-g espresso cups for space

Space travel is a bit more civilized now that there's a bespoke Italian espresso machine aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Unfortunately, solving one problem just raises another and the astronauts are still having to drink their cappuccinos out of placcy bags. To help the zero-g coffee aficionado, Portland State University's (PSU) Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science has developed a microgravity espresso cup that drinks like its earthbound counterparts.Read More

Environment

Mirror coating to cool buildings by pumping interior heat into space

Keeping buildings cool isn't easy. In fact, conventional air conditioning methods are very energy intensive and account for up to 15 percent of the energy used in buildings in the United States alone. However, engineers at Stanford University have come up with a new ultrathin, multilayered, nanophotonic material that not only reflects heat away from buildings, but also directs heat from inside out into space, cooling both the building and the planet as well.Read More

Energy

Lockheed Martin announces it's working on a compact fusion reactor

Fusion reactors are a bit like buses; you wait forever for one, then two come along at once. No sooner does the University of Washington announce that it’s working on a breakthrough compact fusion reactor (CFR) than Lockheed Martin says that its Revolutionary Technology Programs unit, AKA the Skunk Works, in Palmdale, California has one that could be ready for market within ten years.Read More

Space

NASA selects proposals for advanced energy storage technologies

Once upon a time, energy systems for space missions were simple. You used batteries for very short missions, solar panels in the inner Solar System, nuclear power generators if you were beyond Mars or needed a lot of power, and fuel cells for manned spacecraft. However, as space exploration starts looking into lunar polar craters, comets, and the icy moons of Jupiter, new energy systems will be needed. To anticipate that need, NASA has made awards to four proposals to develop advanced energy storage technology for future manned and unmanned space missions..Read More

Science

Stanford researchers develop self-cooling solar cells

Photovoltaic cells are one of the more promising alternative energy sources. Mechanically they are very simple, with no moving parts, and are clean and emission-free. Unfortunately they are also inefficient. One of the reasons for this is that they overheat, a problem that a Stanford University team under electrical engineering professor Shanhui Fan is addressing with the development of a thin glass layer that makes solar cells self-cooling. Read More

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