The best of 2014

Ultraviolet

The 'tanning bed for mice' used in the research

Excessive exposure to sunlight is the leading cause of skin deterioration, causing it to age prematurely. We need some exposure, however, in order to synthesize vitamin D – plus who wants to stay in the shade all the time? Using a good sunscreen definitely helps, although scientists from the University of British Columbia are taking things a step farther – they're developing a drug that could ultimately prevent the sunlight-related aging of skin.  Read More

Dione as mapped by the Cassini spacecraft (Image: NASA/JPL/SSI/LPI)

NASA has released global maps of six of the Saturnian moons. The system has been under the intense examination of the Cassini-Huygens mission for the past decade, and the completion of the global maps represents the end of one of the legendary spacecraft's key mission objectives. Almost all of the maps are whole, though there are currently parts of Iapetus unfinished, as well as a region of the north pole of Enceladus set to be filled in some time next year.  Read More

Bondic comes with its own UV LED

Perhaps you've had one or more of the following experiences when trying to stick items together using super glue: the glue sets before the objects can be properly aligned, it won't set fast enough, or it hardens inside the bottle once it's been opened. Well, Bondic is claimed to have none of those problems. It's described as a "liquid plastic welder" that sets within four seconds, but only once it's been exposed to an included UV light.  Read More

Xenex's robots us UV radiation to kill Ebola viruses

Dealing with highly infectious diseases like Ebola is often like a logic problem. Disinfecting rooms is hard enough, but what about protective suits? True, they greatly reduce the chances of infection, but getting them off can bring the risk straight back again if the suit isn't decontaminated first. Xenex has created protocols that conform to those of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its a line of robots that use UV lamps that to decontaminate hospital rooms and protective clothing exposed to the Ebola virus.  Read More

If California’s drought continues, residents may be drinking the recycled water from the S...

Drinking recycled urine may be the stuff of Dune novels, and a drastic response to California’s ongoing drought. But officials in Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley are hoping its new high-tech purification plant will help residents get past the ick factor and eventually allow treated wastewater to flow through their faucets in a "toilet to tap" scenario. Opened in July, the $72 million Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center is the most advanced such plant in the US, and uses a multi-step system of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet rays to produce water of higher quality than typical drinking water.  Read More

Researchers at Michigan State University claim to have a solar collector so clear that it ...

Researchers working at Michigan State University have created a completely transparent solar collector which is so clear that it could replace conventional glass in windows. The new devices – dubbed transparent luminescent solar concentrators – have the potential to not only turn windows into solar electric generators, but the screens of smartphones, vehicle glazing, and almost anything else that has a see-through surface.  Read More

NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio prepares to test the ultraviolet light decontamination har...

The International Space Station (ISS) is perhaps the most artificial environment that human beings have ever taken up residence in. It’s not the sort of place where you’d want a lab accident, because you can’t run out the door and wait in the carpark for the air to clear, so NASA uses gloveboxes to keep the crew and equipment separate from dangerous contaminants. To increase this level of safety and expand the number experiments the station can carry out, the space agency is fitting one of the larger gloveboxes with an Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) system to to prevent potentially dangerous microorganisms from escaping.  Read More

The Hubble Space Telescope has taken a long-exposure picture of space in the ultraviolet, ...

A newly-released picture taken by the Hubble Telescope is adding more color to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) image by detecting thousands of galaxies in the ultraviolet spectrum. The study, called the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UVUDF), directly imaged stars and other celestial bodies that would have been impossible to observe on the ground, and gives astronomers critical information that will prove useful as the launch of the more powerful James Webb Space Telescope approaches.  Read More

The CHESS Sounding rocket (Photo:  NASA/WSMR)

In an experiment designed to look for the fundamental building blocks of matter in the dust clouds of interstellar space, NASA recently launched a high-altitude sounding rocket containing the Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph (CHESS) payload. Enabling scientists to carry out the most comprehensive single instrument study of its type ever conducted, the research promises to give new insights into the formation of stars.  Read More

Ultraviolet light causes a chemical reaction in the Smartsun wristband, alerting the weare...

Balancing a healthy amount of time in the sun while avoiding overexposure to its harmful UV rays can be a a difficult task. Indeed, the challenge of finding this happy medium has produced a bevy of of UV-detecting wristbands, such as the UVeBand and the UVA+Sunfriend. Smartsun is the latest to join the ranks of such devices, alerting users to dangerous levels of UV exposure by changing color from yellow to pink when it's time to head indoors.  Read More

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