Thanks to a new approach to one of microfluidics' biggest challenges -- how do you propel fluid in a number of directions at once without the clutter of myriad electromechanical valves and pumps? -- we could be closer to seeing our smartphones double as home flu kits. Credit goes to a team of chemical engineers at the University of Michigan for coming up with the innovative system, which uses music to control the fluid.
In the recent Robocup 2009 games, in which robots compete for prizes and glory, entrants from many nations held their own. In categories including small, medium, humanoid, 2-D simulation, and 3-D simulation, teams from the U.S., China, Germany, Iran, and quite a few other robot-producing countries played and won.
However, on the smallest playing field of all, there was one clear winner.
Finally: a flash camera without all the usual problems. By using a flashbulb that emits ultraviolet and infrared light (neither of which the human eye can detect) instead of visible light, New York University's Dilip Krishnan and Rob Fergus have come up with dark photography that will neither blind your subject nor produce the unwanted glare of a harsh flash in the developed photo.
Think you have a snazzy business card? Perhaps one with a cool graphic or one-of-a-kind shape? Well, think again. No matter how impressive, it's unlikely to beat this augmented reality card from ActionScript developer James Alliban for coolness.
Anyone who's ever spilled a hot beverage in his or her lap will be happy to hear that chemists at the University of Minnesota have announced a scaldproof fabric.
Water-resistant fabric, of course, has already existed for some time -- but its impermeability applies only to cool liquids. Hot coffee, scalding soup, and other liquids above a certain temperature, on the other hand, seep right through water-resistant cloth.
Forget that new outfit or tech toy -- next time you have some cash to burn (whenever that may be), why not get an analysis of your genes done? A startup genomics company called Pathway Genomics announced today the most affordable (and exhaustive) public DNA service on the market.
According to developmental psychologists, as infants, we learn to govern our bodies through a process of random experimentation and feedback. We contort our faces into weird shapes, watch our parents react, and then switch up our movements accordingly.
Now, computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego are applying this same strategy to robotics research. Through the use of machine learning, they've made it possible for their robot–an Einstein lookalike–to teach itself to make realistic facial expressions.
Because it's the universe's most abundant element, hydrogen is a good candidate for a renewable energy source. But there's a problem: the finicky element is difficult to manage. Storing it in its pure form is a hassle that requires high pressure and low temperature, and unbinding it from paired elements used to stabilize it comes with significant secondary energy costs.
Fortunately, though, there's urine to the rescue.
Remember when, as a kid, you would pass “top-secret” notes written in lemon juice that your friends could only read in the right light? Well, in light of new nanotechnology research, this now sounds absurdly antiquated, like cave painting in the modern era. Instead, the youth of tomorrow (and adults too) could have the option to communicate via documents that self-erase at a preprogrammed time.
The Solar Impulse is the prototype of a fuel-free aircraft that is designed to circle the globe on sunlight alone.
Solar Impulse/Stephane Gros
As environmental concerns increasingly shape the direction of technology, the future of aviation is no exception: scientists have been looking to replace fuel-guzzling aircraft with solar-powered variants, an innovation that, in addition to passing the green test, would also enable planes to linger in the sky for longer.