Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Water

Oceanographers run through a series of tests in preparation to deploy one of the ocean gli...

The use of "ocean gliders" for conducting research in oceanic conditions not ideal for regular methods has been catching on in the scientific community. Examples of this have been seen in the detection of endangered whales in the North Atlantic and a study of the Atlantic sturgeon. Researchers have now turned their robotic ocean helpers towards Antarctica, to study the rapidly-melting ice sheets on the coast of the western part of that polar land mass.  Read More

The Brigadier is dust and shock proof

Lately, smartphones are growing larger, lighter and thinner, making them increasingly frail to the point where we might have to worry about a $1,000 iPhone 6 Plus warping or bending in a back pocket. Amid this strange new status quo, the Kyocera Brigadier is the increasingly rare phone that need not be handled with care.  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

Cigarette ash could now have another use besides ... well, nothing (Photo: Shutterstock)

In a perfect world, cigarette waste simply wouldn't exist. Given that it does, though, scientists have explored a number of methods of repurposing it – these have included using compounds from cigarette butts to store energy, make shipping pallets, and rust-proof steel. Now, researchers have shown that cigarette ash can be used as a low-cost means of filtering arsenic from water supplies. It's a little ironic, as cigarette smoke actually contains a dangerous amount of arsenic.  Read More

The water runs through a piece of piping, which rests in a trench-shaped structure coated ...

Armed with plywood, a glass tube and some empty chip packets, mechanical engineering students from the University of Adelaide have developed a low-cost water purification system capable of killing off harmful bacteria. The solution is designed for remote communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG), an area where water is particularly susceptible to pathogen infestation.  Read More

According to the designers, they have produced and flown a scale prototype of the blimp

Using a tethered airship floating high up amongst the clouds, the Air HES concept claims to yield both clean water and electricity by harvesting and condensing water vapor which it uses to spin up an electric turbine generator to create power. According to the creators, they have built a prototype to test their theory and have also conducted feasibility studies into upping the scale of their device to produce economically viable levels of water and power.  Read More

The Stanford University water splitter could save hydrogen producers billions of dollars (...

A new emissions-free device created by scientists at Stanford University uses an ordinary 1.5-volt battery to split water into hydrogen and oxygen at room temperature, potentially providing a low-cost method to power fuel cells in zero-emissions vehicles and buildings.  Read More

The Naturbad Riehen swimming pool is entirely chemical-free (Photo: Helen Schneider)

A whiff of chlorine is virtually synonymous with taking a dip in a swimming pool. While it helps to kill off bacteria, it also serves as a subtle reminder that you are wading around in chemically treated water (if tasting the odd mouthful just isn't enough). Switzerland's Naturbad Riehen swimming pool is entirely chemical-free, relying instead on a biological filter system to provide clean and natural water for thousands of patrons, no itchy red eyes in sight.  Read More

Dr. Horst Punzmann and team leader Prof. Michael Shats, at the ANU wave tank

If you've ever tried to retrieve an object that's floating away in a lake or the ocean, then you'll know how frustrating it can be, trying to draw that item towards you. According to research recently conducted at The Australian National University (ANU), however, it's possible to move such objects in whichever direction you wish – as long as you can generate the right type of waves.  Read More

A microscope cross-sectional view of the material, in which the microhairs are standing st...

What if your house's windows could automatically reduce the amount of hot sunlight passing through them, or your car's windshield could cause rain droplets to bead off to its edges? These things and more could soon be possible, thanks to a new animal hair-inspired material developed at MIT.  Read More

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