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Max Planck Institute

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 nanoprop is able to easily pass between polymer chains, like those present in bodily f...

All over the world, scientists are creating microscopic "nanobots" for purposes such as delivering medication to precisely-targeted areas inside the body. In order for those tiny payload-carrying robots to get to their destination, however, they need some form of propulsion. Although some systems are already in development, a team of Israeli and German scientists may have come up with the most intriguing one yet, in the form of what they claim is the world's smallest propeller.  Read More

The robotics material in its hard (left) and soft states

If you've ever watched an octopus, you may have noticed how they can deliver powerful grasping force when necessary, yet can also squeeze through tiny openings by essentially making themselves "liquid." Now imagine if there were robots that could do the same thing. They could conceivably squirm through debris to reach buried survivors at disaster sites, or even travel through patients' bodies to perform medical procedures. An international team of scientists is working on making such technology a reality, using a combination of polyurethane foam and wax.  Read More

A squiggly line like this may be more secure than your PIN

Many of us now use our mobile devices for things like online banking, in crowded public places ... the sort of places where it would be easy for sometime to sneak a peek as we enter our passcodes. Researchers from New Jersey's Rutgers University, however, are working on a possible alternative to those typed codes. They've discovered that passwords consisting of hand gestures used to draw free-form lines on a smartphone or tablet screen are much more difficult for "shoulder surfers" to copy after seeing.  Read More

Researchers at Imperial College London have devised a method of achieving light to matter ...

In what could be a landmark moment in the history of science, physicists working at the Blackett Physics Laboratory in Imperial College London have designed an experiment to validate one of the most tantalizing hypotheses in quantum electrodynamics: the theory that matter could be created using nothing more than pure light.  Read More

Instead of the usual carbon atoms, artificial graphene is made from crystals of traditiona...

Graphene is truly a 21st-century wonder material, finding use in everything from solar cells to batteries to tiny antennas. Now, however, a group of European research institutes have joined forces to create a graphene knock-off, that could prove to be even more versatile.  Read More

Scanning electron microscopy of stem cells (yellow / green) in a scaffold structure (blue)...

European researchers have announced a breakthrough in the development of artificial bone marrow which expands the ability of scientists to reproduce stem cells in the lab and could lead to increased availability of treatment for leukemia sufferers.  Read More

A new test has been developed that could help identify patients using antidepressants who ...

The results of a years-long study with patients on antidepressants may help doctors predict one of the most severe side effects those medications can produce: treatment-emergent suicidal ideation (TESI). The condition is estimated to affect between four and 14 percent of patients, who typically present symptoms of TESI in the first weeks of treatment or following dosage adjustments. So far doctors haven’t had indicators to predict which patients are more likely to develop TESI, but a new test based on research carried out by the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, could change that.  Read More

P/2013 P5 is an asteroid with six comet-like tails (Image: NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt)

In the old days, astronomy was simple – comets had tails and asteroids didn’t. Now, as if to not only disprove such established views, but drive the point home, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took images in September of an asteroid called P/2013 P5 that has not one, but six comet-like tails.  Read More

A flexible polymer circuit, shown here, could someday be replaced by a cheap and flexible ...

Given the low costs and extensive applications that could be possible with flexible paper circuit boards, we've seen many ideas for their production, from printing with silver ink to embedding chips within paper. Now, however, scientists have developed an elegant method for selectively changing the very nature of the paper itself into conductive graphite. Unlike polymer-based flexible circuits, these paper circuits are, ironically, able to withstand the high temperatures generally used in the production of electronics.  Read More

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