As is the case every four years, only a lucky few will be able to see the summer Olympics live and in-person. The rest of us peasants will settle for watching and streaming the games from our homes. But if you want something that feels a little grander, maybe even cosmic, NASA has just released a series of satellite photos depicting past Olympic host cities from space. The earliest comes from 1997 and shows Atlanta, and the series goes all the way up to London 2012.
Luc Fusaro, a French engineering and design student who does not work for Nike or any other shoe company, is creating a 3-D-printed running shoe. It's revolutionary, but he's hoping it barely affects runners at all. To be precise (and maybe optimistic), the shoes--branded "Designed to Win"--could shave 3.5 percent off a runner's time. That's it. But in the professional running world, that's the difference between Olympic glory and heading home in defeat.
The majority of engineers are men. The majority of U.S. Army soldiers are also men. So when a new piece of equipment is being designed--equipment that could change the outcome of a life or death situation--it's made with men in mind. Then, if women need it, they might just have to shoehorn themselves into the male variety, as is currently the case with body armor. But the Army recently announced it'll try to change that by testing new body armor built for women.
This has been a sensationally hot summer for America, with records breaking daily. But Greenland seems to have just claimed the heat-related phenomenon crown, with 97 percent of its ice sheet turning to slush. The even stranger part? It might be completely normal--at least for now.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory recently released the much-watched "Seven Minutes of Terror" video, which describes the harrowing descent to the Red Planet that the Mars rover Curiosity will undergo on August 5. Now, from the same lab, comes a look at the chemical tools Curiosity will use to search for signs that Mars could have once sustained life.
Despite being one of the most alien-looking things on Earth, the mechanism jellyfish use to swim is similar in some ways to the beating human heart. That inspired researchers to build a sort of cyborg jellyfish from the ground up, using heart muscle cells from a rat and silicone polymer. And it's actually only a little more odd-looking than a regular jelly.
To conduct experiments, researchers can change a variable in an organism and watch the results unfold. But life is messy, and it's difficult to understand the underlying processes that explain the data. Digitizing the process could help, and now we're starting small: researchers have successfully made a computer model of Mycoplasma genitalium, the world's tiniest free-living bacterium.
We know CFL bulbs are world-changingly efficient, producing the same level of light as their incandescent parents while using a quarter of the energy. But they're still a relatively new device, and few long-term studies have been carried out on them. One of the most recent, a new report from a team at Stony Brook, suggests CFLs might cause damage to skin by releasing UV rays.
Even if they can be a major disaster for people nearby them, volcanoes do one good thing: helping to cool the planet by sending sun-reflecting chemicals into the stratosphere. Now two Harvard engineers are trying to replicate the better part of the volcanic process on a small scale by spraying thousands of tons of sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere above New Mexico.
Recent events have shown how social networks can help world unrest get witnessed globally. YouTube was a major player in sending videos of Arab Spring protestors out to masses across the world, but it had its drawbacks: the person protesting in a video was seen everywhere, but they were also seen back at home, where losing anonymity to a despotic government could become dangerous.