We’re big fans of the home 3D printer here. It’s a truly disruptive technology, though for now the cost is still a bit too high, and the uses aren’t quite practical enough, for it to be a household item just yet. But that hasn’t stopped people from putting it to good use.
Researchers at Tufts University have put together a “molecular motor” that is only about a nanometer across. It’s not the first single-molecule motor ever made, but this one, unlike others, can be activated singly by the minute tip of a scanning electron microscope. They’re working with Guinness to get certified as the smallest motor in the world. → Read More
Researchers at UCLA have created a twist on traditional LCDs that would allow displays to reclaim wasted photons from the backlight, or even act as a normal solar cell. Normal LCDs rely on an always-on backlight, but because of the way LCDs work, most of that light never escapes. This inherent inefficiency hasn’t stopped us from getting bright displays, but the power necessary to make them so is… → Read More
The ongoing search for cartoon-style laser guns is likely to continue for a while, given the rather poor showing by even large, ship-mounted lasers. But that shouldn’t stop researchers from looking into it and making handheld lasers, even if they’re super weak. You have to start somewhere, right? Early guns were just tiny cannons, and inaccurate past 50 feet. You were better off with bows and… → Read More
The winners of the the yearly MEMS (Microelectromechanical system) design competition held by Sandia National Labs were announced a short time ago, and they’re pretty impressive. Students from CMU and Texas Tech were honored and their designs highlighted: the Texas Tech team built a set of millimeter-wide dragonfly wings, and CMU made an electrostatically-activated microvalve. These things are … → Read More
In the post-apocalyptic hellscape that will be next week, we’re going to need people who know how to make unique electronics projects in order to power the homes of the cannibals who will populate our cities. To that end, we present this interesting DIY Electrostatic motor that will power, for example, a fan used to blow flies away from the new God-King who will rise to take his place on the… → Read More
Body augmentation and limb replacement are just hugely interesting fields right now. We’ve got bionic legs, bionic eyes, even bionic cats. Bionic hands have been a troublesome topic for research because of the inadequacy of current technology in replicating fine motor control. This arm, being wielded by a young Austrian fellow who lost the use of his hand in an accident, isn’t quite perfect, but… → Read More
I remember poring over Uncle Milton Catalogs as a wee lad but I doubt old Milt has rubber glass, oil-absorbing polymers, or conductive foam sensors in his bag of tricks. That’s where Inventibles comes in. These guys are a one-stop shop for wild materials and scientific tools and I’m kind of salivating just going through the lists of items. → Read More
One of my fondest childhood memories was of visiting the Tid-Bit in Martins Ferry, Ohio and buying out their old collection of chemistry set chemicals for 60 cents each. I bought the fun stuff like sulfur, copper, iron filings, and potassium nitrate (charcoal I could make at home) and some off the odd stuff like Cobalt Chloride that I just loved to look at for the color. I learned very little from… → Read More
Minor scratches to things like flooring, gadgets, and cars may soon be a thing of the past, if… wait, no, that lede is a little too PopSci. Let’s try again.
Researchers have come up with a new material that acts like a normal polymer coating under most circumstances, but when exposed to UV light, spontaneously heals nicks and scratches. Here comes the science! → Read More
Solar panels usually work through absorption. Light creates heat and, in turn, that heat is converted to energy. But physicists have long known that light has a magnetic element that, for years, has been ignored for being too weak to measure.
Students at the University of Michigan, however, have found that light’s magnetism can be captured and used without absorption, creating an intense charge. → Read More
Here’s an interesting little project that anybody with some foil, gaffing tape, and a scintillator can do. It’ll let you see for yourself the natural radiation associated with elements like 40K Potassium, and of course any radiation coming off things like reactors or Godzillas. → Read More
Back in 2008, the world consumed 9,570,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of information. If all that digital information were to be printed and stacked up one-by-one, it would easily stretch from Earth to Neptune and back about 20 times. → Read More
The kids over at BoingBoing (lucky stiffs) got invited to NASA’s labs to check out the next Mars rover, Curiosity. They’ve got a ton of great pics over there, so check it out. Meanwhile, still no word from Spirit. Damn your sandy environment, Mars! → Read More
The world is hooked on plastics, but creating plastics — especially thermoplastics like nylon, polyethylene, and polystyrene — typically requires petroleum or natural gas. That’s bad, because it deepens the world’s dependence on those finite resources. Researchers at the Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln have presented new research at a… → Read More
One of the things green energy proponents eagerly look forward to is an “artificial leaf”: a truly small, portable, modular photosynthetic power plant. The ability to take a hundred or a thousand such units and plaster them on a wall, roof, tree, or whatever, and have them store power in a simple fuel cell all day long would be a great way to make power distribution less tricky in countries where… → Read More
As you probably know, computer processors are made up of a bunch of teeny tiny transistors on top of brittle silicon. While this works well for devices that can deal with solid frames, new technologies that need to be more flexible will require a new type of processor. One that can bend. → Read More
You know that feeling you get after burning through a thousand curls? Neither do I. But I believe the bros when they say they’re sore afterwards; and of course later, the muscles become stronger. That same natural phenomenon has recently been demonstrated in a composite material from research underway at Rice University. Much like steel cold-working, the research plays on the idea that after… → Read More
If nothing else, hosting the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 will provide more than a few stories like this one. The tournament’s organizers now say they have invented artificial clouds to hang over stadia and training grounds. The idea is to help block out the punishing sunshine that’s present there during the traditional World Cup months of June-July. → Read More
ZTE’s research into long-distance high-speed data transmission has resulted in a new record: their system maintained a transfer speed of over 10Tbps over 640km single-mode fiber optic cable — for a sense of scale, your home broadband might be around 10Mbps, or about a millionth of this rate (though the technologies aren’t really comparable). The tech was presented at a Los… → Read More