Tequila may be just another drink to those out in the town, but to a team of scientists in Mexico their country's native alcohol turned out to be a gem; a diamond, to be precise. Javier Morales, Luis Apátiga and Victor Castaño at the National Autonomous University of Mexico made the alchemist-worthy discovery while experimenting turning various organic solutions, such as acetone and ethanol, into diamonds. The scientists noted that 80-proof tequila (40 percent alcohol) had the ideal proportion of ethanol to water to create diamond films.
He is greenish brown, has dragon scales for skin, grows up to 32 inches and is the world's last remaining lizard-like reptile that has a lineage dating back to about 225 million years when dinosaurs still roamed the earth—he's a tuatara and he's making a comeback. A species native to New Zealand, the tuatara was spotted nesting in a sanctuary close to Wellington last week, the first such sighting in 200 years. Staff at the 620-acre Karori Wildlife Sanctuary stumbled upon four white, leathery ping-pong sized tuatara eggs during routine maintenance work at the end of last week.
Tired of missing your favorite sports because you're stuck in a meeting? Those woes may soon be a thing of the past. A team of researchers at Umeå University and Ericsson Research in Sweden have developed a technology synchronizing a cell phone's vibrations to a ball's movement in a field. The vibrotactile tool is designed so that a phone vibrates at different frequencies and lengths depending on where the ball is on the field, which team is kicking the ball and when a goal is being scored. A ball in midfield, for example, produces a light, short vibration, while a ball that makes it past a goalkeeper sets off a stronger and longer vibration meant to signify "Goooooooooooooal!"
Your phone rings. But when you pick up, you don't recognize your mother's voice on the other end. It's not amnesia, but phonagnosia -- the inability to recognize voices. If you've never heard of it, that's because it's a very rare condition that usually occurs after a stroke, as a result of lesions in the right hemisphere of the brain. This week, however, scientists at University College London (UCL) reported the first known case of a woman born with phonagnosia in the online journal Neuropsychologia.
Hackers may be one step ahead of you once again. Sure, you can follow all the steps to protect your private data, like creating a password that's hard to guess or clearing your memory cache after browsing, but that may not be enough. It's very possible that hackers can sniff out your data with every keystroke—at least that's what Swiss researchers proved in a video demonstration, which showed four different ways to pick up sensitive information from people's keyboards as they typed.
Want to eat yourself thin? Cool your jets. According to research published in the British Medical Journal this week, those who wolf down their food and eat until they're stuffed are three times more likely to be overweight.
If earwigs, centipedes or spiders give you the creepy crawlies, quit while you're ahead. Otherwise, meet "Chan's megastick" (Phobaeticus chani). Recently named the world's longest living insect, the thin, bamboo-looking stick insect—best known for its camouflaging abilities to deter predators—was discovered in Southeast Asia's island of Borneo.
Imagine flying an airplane, watching a television or using a laptop computer made, at least in part, from a paper 500 times stronger and 10 times lighter than steel. It's no ordinary paper; it's "buckypaper"—a nanotechnology material that looks like carbon paper and is made out of tube-shaped carbon molecules 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. The material's strength, however, comes when it's stacked and pressed together to form a composite, giving it the ability to conduct electricity like copper and disperse heat like steel.
The robot maid Rosie from The Jetsons may seem old school, but the concept is far from it—or so South Korean researchers have affirmed this week after revealing their humanoid robot "Mahru." You may recall a few other robots that have made the limelight—most recently Japan's Robogirl, which looks eerily human—but Mahru, developed at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) as part of a state-funded $200,000 project, is a notch above the rest.
Cycle-rickshaws in New Delhi are getting a green makeover. This month, the state-run Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research unveiled what they call a "soleckshaw" (short for solar electric rickshaw). The soleckshaw, which like traditional cycle-rickshaws can still be pedaled, is a motorized cycle-rickshaw that runs on a 36-volt solar battery for up to 9.3 miles per hour, and carries a load of up to approximately 440 lbs. The battery has enough juice to get the rickshaw going for 30 to 42 miles.