A beehive buzzes with thousands of genetically similar female honeybees. Some nurse their queen and her eggs while others fly out in search of pollen and nectar. For decades, scientists knew that bees took on new jobs as they aged, but a team of researchers recently discovered that chemical tags attached to the bees' DNA play an important role in determining their career paths.
For the better part of Frank Will’s life, he has been consumed with improving engine performance. He started racing motorcycles as a teenager in Germany in the 1970s, winning a world championship race in 1991, and later became an automotive engineer at Ford in Australia. When he left his job in 2008, he applied his passion to a new endeavor: Over7, a system that by redirecting and then heating an engine’s oil, cuts gas consumption by 7 percent and emissions by up to 30 percent.
On the ground, solar power has its limitations. Solar cells are not especially efficient. It rains. The sun disappears at night. A space-based solar panel can generate five times the energy of a similar panel on Earth by circumventing both weather and hours lost to darkness. A 2007 study by the National Space Society estimates that a half-mile-wide band of photovoltaics in geosynchronous orbit with Earth could generate the energy equivalent of all the oil remaining on the planet over the course of one year. Though costly, launching working solar satellites is possible today. It's transmitting the captured energy to Earth that presents a challenge—one that scientists are just starting to work on.
On a February night last year, Sean Monagle got the phone call he’d been waiting two months for: Some 100 urine samples from pregnant women were ready for his analysis. A technician delivered them to his dorm, and Monagle, then a senior at Johns Hopkins University, raced off to his lab. He knew this was his chance to test his potentially lifesaving invention.
After 159 days on the International Space Station and a 50-minute reentry, NASA commander Scott Kelly and two Russian flight engineers, Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Kaleri, landed with a gentle thud in rural Kazakhstan on March 16. High winds dragged their Soyuz capsule several feet before it came to a rest.
Need some natural gas? To generate more of it—and more income—energy companies are resorting to creative measures, eking out every last bit from the gas wells they drill. But environmentalists and public-health advocates warn that one such process, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can also taint nearby water supplies. Advances in horizontal drilling technologies have allowed energy producers to reach gas packed in dense rock formations that happen to coexist with the sources of drinking water for a sizeable segment of the U.S. population.
The world's biggest tornado hunt is stuck. I'm at an improvised command center in the conference room of the Holiday Inn Express in Perry, Oklahoma, and 35 scientists are trying to decide where, on this cloudy May morning, to deploy the 50 equipment-laden trucks parked outside. The first major storm system of the expedition is forming southwest of us, in Texas, and it's likely to lead to supercells, massive rotating thunderstorms that may in turn spin off one or more twisters. Very promising. But Lou Wicker, a team leader from the National Severe Storms Laboratory, sees a problem. He looks up from a radar screen. "Fifty miles per hour," he says. Too fast.
The world's most sophisticated robots don't assemble trucks or cruise around Mars. They're designed to support our surging population of elderly and disabled citizens. Meet 10 of the most promising senior-friendly 'bots.
Today's featured Invention Award winner is the Groasis Waterboxx, which waters plants without irrigation.
Dutch flower exporter Pieter Hoff often spent nights in his beloved lily fields to monitor them. One evening, he noticed that the first droplets of morning condensation were collecting on the leaves of his lilies well before midnight.
In just over a decade, the auto industry in China has exploded. As of November 2009, China is the largest automobile market in the world, combining active partnerships with established foreign brands with a thriving, developing domestic market.
China's seemingly unstoppable auto power over the years has worried Detroit, Japan and Europe. Now, their concern may be warranted. China's budding domestic manufacturers and their 100-percent Chinese-made cars are now poised to enter the export market. So what does that future look like?