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University of California

The DASH robot, a cockroach and a gecko are all capable of running to the edge of a ramp, ...

Anyone who has tried to kill a cockroach knows just how difficult they can be to be to capture. Not only can they squeeze through very narrow gaps, but they can also instantly accelerate to a running speed of approximately 50 body lengths per second. Recently, biologists at the University of California, Berkeley realized that the insects have another escape skill at their disposal. When they get to the edge of a surface such as a table, they can hook it with their rear claws and swing around 180 degrees to land upside down on its underside – a maneuver also performed by geckos. A team of UC Berkeley researchers subsequently did what any of us would do upon gaining that knowledge, and set out to get a robot to perform the action.  Read More

A prototype “inexact” computer chip that is around 15 times more efficient than current mi...

Last year, a team of U.S. researchers applied the pruning shears to computer chips to trim away rarely used portions of digital circuits. The result was chips that made the occasional mistake, but were twice as fast, used half as much energy, and were half the size of the original. Now, building on the same “less is more” idea, the researchers have built an “inexact” prototype silicon chip they claim is at least 15 times more efficient than current technology in terms of speed, energy consumption and size.  Read More

Screen shot of the Herd It Facebook game that provides the human knowledge used by the sys...

When it comes to online music, we really are spoilt for choice. So spoilt it can make uncovering new music to match our tastes or finding a track when we don’t know the artist or song title, a hit and miss affair. Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have developed a new approach called “game-powered machine learning” that they claim is just as accurate as other methods, but is cheaper and has the potential to let users search every song on the web using a text search.  Read More

Scientists have created nanoscale submarines, for use in gathering up oil droplets in the ...

If anything good came out of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it was that it got people thinking about technologies for cleaning up future spills. While things like magnetic soap, nanosponges, and autonomous robots are all in the works, a group of scientists recently announced the results of their research into another possibility – oil droplet-gathering microsubmarines.  Read More

The record-breaking Alta Devices solar cell (Photo: Joe Foster, Alta Devices)

When you think of a solar cell, you probably think of something designed to absorb as much sunlight as possible. What you probably don't think of is something that is also capable of emitting light. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what a new prototype device designed more like an LED does, and it recently set an efficiency record for flat-plate single junction solar cells.  Read More

One of the robosquirrels used in the rattlesnake study (Photo: Andy Fell, UC Davis)

Rattlesnakes, beware! The next time you spot a succulent-looking squirrel, it might actually be a cold-hearted robot. More specifically, it might be a “robosquirrel,” created by UC Davis professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Sanjay Joshi. He built the robot squirrels as part of a study on rattlesnake behavior – a study which yielded some interesting results.  Read More

Two holes on each axle can also be fitted with different attachments, such as friction arm...

Any film student will tell you that pulling together the right equipment for a video shoot with little to no budget is a daunting task. Most students don't have access to common professional tools and end up jury-rigging their own to film a shot just right - which is how Jeremy Canterbury first came up with the Revolve camera dolly. While working in video production at the University of California in Santa Barbara, Canterbury developed a concept for a portable dolly that could hold almost any camera or iPhone along with attachments while taking up about as much space as a shoe box. With its wide range of functions and low price, the Revolve camera dolly could be an invaluable device for filmmakers to capture smooth, dynamic video from any location.  Read More

Scientists are studying the mental processes of young children, in order to get computers ...

Children are sometimes referred to as “sponges,” not because they live off our earnings, but because of their remarkable ability to learn things quickly. Psychologists believe this is because their brains are still wired for learning and exploration – essential qualities for building neural connections – whereas adult minds tend to focus on specific goals, at the expense of imagination and curiosity. Now, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley are studying the cognitive functions of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, in hopes of using their findings to make computers think more like humans.  Read More

Electronic microscopic image of a 'nanoforest,' with green tint added for contrast (Imge: ...

While hydrogen is considered a “clean” fuel because the only waste product it generates is water, the conventional way to produce it relies on electricity, which is usually produced through the burning of fossil fuels. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have now developed a “3D branched nanowire array” that they claim could cheaply and cleanly deliver hydrogen fuel on a mass scale.  Read More

Scientists have created a self-healing hydrogel, that responds to the acidity of its envir...

Velcro is pretty handy stuff, but imagine if there was a soft, stretchy material with the same qualities. Well, now there is. Scientists from the University of California, San Diego have created a self-healing hydrogel that binds together in seconds, essentially copying the Velcro process at a molecular level. The new material could potentially find use in medical sutures, targeted drug delivery, industrial sealants and self-healing plastics.  Read More

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