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Imperial College

Materials

New self-cleaning paint stands up to wear and tear

How would you like to be able to wash your car by just hosing it off – no soap, scrubbing or drying? You may be able to in the not-too-distant future, thanks to research being led by a team at University College London. Drawing on earlier research, they've developed an ultra-hydrophobic (water-repelling) paint that can be applied to a variety of surfaces, and that stays on once applied. Read More

Games Feature

Creative AI: Procedural generation takes game development to new worlds

Owing perhaps to the difficulty and extreme cost of building virtual worlds that can be seen, heard, explored, and interacted with in multitudes of other ways, video games have long made use of procedural content generation and computation creativity. Epic space-faring BBC Micro game Elite generated its own star systems on the fly way back in 1984, for instance, while the likes of Minecraft, Diablo, and the SimCity series all similarly sport environments sculpted by algorithms. But artificial intelligence research is opening new avenues in the ever-evolving dance between human game developers and their algorithmically-intelligent tools. AIs can now create entire 2D and 3D games from scratch, unassisted, and that could be just the tip of the iceberg.Read More

Automotive

The pros and cons of a driverless future

It may seem as if the only arguments against self-driving cars come from two kinds of people – those fearful of any scenario where they might have to forgo control behind the wheel and those who distrust all technology out of hand. Lolling about while a computer gets you through traffic has its attractions for many of us and there has been little discussion about the potential downsides of a driverless future, but a new study has pointed out some potential flaws in this looming auto utopia.Read More

Medical

Zinc blood test could lead to early diagnosis of breast cancer

Early diagnosis of breast cancer could one day be possible via a simple blood test that detects changes in zinc in the body. Scientists have taken techniques normally used for studying climate change and planetary formation and shown that changes in the isotopic composition of zinc, which is detectable in breast tissue, may help identify a "biomarker" (a measurable indicator) of early breast cancer.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Experimental food additive makes people feel full sooner

When we get the feeling of "being full," it's because our gut has released hormones that tell our brain to stop being hungry. It would seem to follow, therefore, that people who overeat might benefit from producing greater amounts of those hormones. Well, that's just what an experimental new food additive is claimed to cause the body to do. Read More

Space

Why didn't the universe collapse after the Big Bang? It's a question of gravity

Not only does gravity keep us safely on the ground and hold the planets in alignment, but now it may soon get the credit for saving the whole universe. Physicists at the Imperial College London and the Universities of Copenhagen and Helsinki believe that the interaction between Higgs boson particles and gravity had a stabilizing effect on the very early universe, thereby preventing the Big Crunch – a catastrophic collapse into nothing – from occurring shortly after the Big Bang.Read More

Good Thinking

2014 James Dyson Award international winners announced

James Roberts, a 23 year-old design grad from Britain's Loughborough University, has won this year's international James Dyson Award for his portable inflatable incubator. Called MOM, the device is intended to be a low-cost alternative to traditional incubators, allowing premature babies in places such as refugee camps to survive when they might otherwise perish. Read on for more details on it, along with the three runners-up. Read More

Medical

Xenon could provide protection for the brain after a blow to the head

Injuries from a blow to the head are a two-stage affair, with the primary injury caused by the initial impact being followed by a secondary injury that develops in the subsequent hours and days. We have seen the development of devices like the Jolt Sensor that are designed to detect the severity of the initial impact, but there is currently no drug treatment for the secondary injury, which is largely responsible for a patient sustaining mental and physical disabilities. Now scientists at Imperial College London have found that xenon gas shows promise as such a treatment.Read More

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