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— Science

New study indicates dramatic fall-off in global crop yields by the year 2050

By - July 31, 2014 1 Picture
A new study has examined the potentially disastrous implications that a combination of global warming and air pollution could have on crop yields by the year 2050. The research is one of the first projects to take into account a combination of the two dangers, and highlights the humanitarian crisis that could arise should the threat not be tackled head-on. Read More
— Computers

Vision-correcting display lets users ditch their reading glasses

By - July 30, 2014 5 Pictures
In an age where reading something from a screen on a phone or a computer is a normal part of our daily lives, the wearing of glasses or contact lenses often makes doing so a chore with eye-strain problems and the necessity to carry around spectacles or lenses wherever you go. In this vein, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have created a prototype vision-correcting, printed pinhole matrix that they claim fits directly to a screen and negates the need for eyeglasses or remedial lenses and may one day offer improved visual acuity to those with eye problems much worse than simple farsightedness. Read More
— Science

Sponge-like structure generates steam using lowest concentration of solar energy yet

By - July 22, 2014 2 Pictures
Researchers working at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering claim to have produced a sponge-like substance that helps convert water to steam using sunlight one-hundredth as bright as that required by conventional steam-producing solar generators. A composite of graphite flakes layered on a bed of carbon foam, the new material is reported to convert as much as 85 percent of received solar energy into steam. Read More
— Telecommunications

New technique could boost internet speeds tenfold

By - July 21, 2014 5 Pictures
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
— Science

MIT adds two robotic fingers to the human hand

By - July 17, 2014 2 Pictures
Earlier this month, we heard about an MIT project in which test subjects were equipped with an extra set of robotic arms in order to help them perform tasks. While the technology is certainly intriguing, some people might find the concept of a four-armed cyborg to be a little ... much. If you're one of those people, then you might be more comfortable with another ongoing MIT project. It's just aimed at giving people two extra robotic fingers. Read More
— Robotics

Phase-change material could let robots be soft or hard-bodied as needed

By - July 15, 2014 1 Picture
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
— Aircraft

Aerial drones may find use as smart photographic light sources

By - July 12, 2014 3 Pictures
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
— Science

Artist creates a living copy of Vincent Van Gogh's ear with relative's DNA

By - July 11, 2014 2 Pictures
If you thought cloning mice, frogs and extinct mammoths to be challenging, how about cloning Vincent Van Gogh's ear? Dutch artist Diemut Strebe has grown a living replica of the ear that Vincent Van Gogh reportedly sliced off in a troubled episode, using genetic material from one of Van Gogh's direct descendants. With a lifespan of 80 years or more, the ear could live as long as any one of us, says Strebe, who is investigating the idea of replicating people from historical DNA. Read More
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