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The Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) is an inflatable heat shield effective...

Legendary science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) scored another hit in the prediction department on Monday, July 23, 2012 when NASA tested an inflatable heat shield that he foresaw back in the 1980s. The test of the Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment (IRVE-3) was launched by rocket into a suborbital trajectory from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA. The unmanned vehicle reached velocities of up to 7,600 mph (12,231 kph), yet was protected from atmospheric heating by the mushroom-shaped shield.  Read More

Terrafugia flying car during Phase I flight test (Photo: Terrafugia)

Six years after the initial announcement that Terrafugia, Inc. would develop a "roadable airplane", the Transition has completed the first phase of flight testing. The flight testing, carried out at Plattsburgh International Airport in northern New York State, assessed the light sport aircraft's full performance envelope. The Transition prototype was reported to perform "exceptionally well", allowing the testing to be carried out quickly.  Read More

NASA inflatable reentry vehicle during plasma phase of Mars landing (Image: NASA)

Your spacecraft is falling from the skies at an initial speed of Mach 25. Your reentry heat shield, that has to survive a 7,800 degrees Celsius (14,072° F) plasma shock, is a finely tuned hi-tech amalgam of refractory metals and carbides and reinforced carbon-carbon ablation materials. Care to replace your mighty heat shield with a balloon? Not likely! But that is exactly what NASA is considering.  Read More

The computer model uses “similarity ensemble approach” (SEA), to detect similarities betwe...

A team of scientists from the UCSF School of Pharmacy, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) and SeaChange Pharmaceuticals has developed a set of computer models that can predict negative side effects associated with existing drugs. By speeding up the process and increasing accuracy, the software could potentially save billions in research and decrease the number of animals used in toxicity tests.  Read More

Inventor Ying-Ling Ann Chen, with the DOES device

According to figures reported by the University of Tennessee, even though 85 percent of a child’s learning is vision-related, about 80 percent of American children have never had their eyes tested before starting kindergarten. Even when tests are performed, they are usually only capable of detecting no more than a couple of conditions. Unfortunately, this means that vision-related learning disabilities such as dyslexia can be missed, and may not be noticed until they are well-established. Now, however, researchers at U Tennessee’s Space Institute have developed a new type of vision-testing system for young children, that could catch a variety of vision problems while they’re still reversible.  Read More

The Safe Soil Tester is a briefcase-sized device, that can test soil samples for pollution...

In the same way that polluted water can be deceptively clear, polluted soil can just look like plain old dirt. Given the contaminants that can be left behind by gas plants, oil refineries and other industries, however, it's very important to check that the soil in an area isn't toxic, before building houses or growing crops there. Presently, soil samples have to be sent off to laboratories, where processing can take up to two weeks. British entrepreneur Ed Bell, however, has invented a briefcase-sized soil-testing unit that can be carried into the field, where it provides results within minutes.  Read More

One of the microfluidic paper test strips, fluorescing blue to indicate the presence of he...

Lab-on-a-chip devices work by directing small samples of liquid through tiny “microchannels” embedded in a small platform, and are used for analyzing liquids in medical and scientific settings. Earlier this week, we reported on a high school teacher who has invented a way of creating such devices using transparency film and a photocopier. Now, scientists from Indiana’s Purdue University have announced a new method of making them using paper. While previous approaches have involved laying down lines of wax or other hydrophobic (water-repelling) material on hydrophilic (water-absorbing) paper, this method uses store-bought hydrophobic paper, and creates the microchannels by burning away the waterproof coating with a laser.  Read More

The Integrascope's LED (left) shines light through a drop of blood (center), and the refra...

When bodily fluids such as blood are tested for infectious diseases and unhealthy protein levels, they’re typically mixed with antibodies or other biological reactants to produce a positive or negative reaction. Researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) have now come up with an alternative testing system that they claim is just as accurate, but much simpler, quicker and cheaper. It utilizes LED lights and simple microelectronic amplifiers, and actually uses the sample itself as a diagnostic tool. Because it integrates the sample into the process, inventors Antonia Garcia and John Schneider call their device the Integrascope.  Read More

MIT researchers have devised a way to measure blood glucose levels by shining near-infrare...

For most sufferers of type 1 diabetes pricking their fingers several times a day to draw blood for testing is an annoying (and often painful), but necessary part of life. It is essential to keep an eye on blood glucose levels because too much sugar can damage organs, while too little deprives the body of necessary fuel. To minimize that pain and inconvenience, researchers at MIT’s Spectroscopy Laboratory are working on a noninvasive way to measure blood glucose levels using light.  Read More

The Fraunhofer wheel hub motor on the 'Frecc0' demo vehicle (Image: Fraunhofer IFAM)

With the internal combustion engine dictating vehicle design for over a century the move towards electric vehicles offers manufacturers the chance to completely rethink vehicle design. However, it also presents manufacturers with a whole new set of problems to be overcome. To facilitate the transition to electric cars, researchers at Franhofer-Gesellschaft are constructing an electrically operated demonstration vehicle, the “Frecc0,” which will serve as a scientific integration platform for automobile manufacturers and suppliers to test new electric vehicle components.  Read More

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