It will probably take another decade to perfect the sophisticated rocket and life-support technology needed to put a human on Mars. But once we’re there, NASA may use centuries-old technology to keep us from getting lost during a stroll.
Powerful X-ray lasers may allow scientists to image tiny drug molecules or even precisely target cancer cells, but the lasers require extremely high-quality mirrors to function well. Now researchers have created a nearly-flawless diamond that can do the job, according to Discovery News.
Prisoners pose an age-old dilemma for societies: try to keep them separated from the good citizenry while possibly easing some of the black sheep back into the fold. Now Malaysian architecture students have hit upon the solution of a sky prison city that allows prisoners to work in farms and factories to contribute to the host city below, CNET reports.
Measuring sensors and actuators can turn any old hip implant into a smart network that helps patients avoid implant problems and may even actively regenerate bone. This "smart hip" system has already been demonstrated successfully on animals.
A current prototype allows physicians to activate the "smart hip" via wireless Bluetooth and a computer. The network of actuators which help stimulate bone growth at the implant's surface has also undergone tests in cell studies as well as animals.
Smokers might get a future reprieve on the damage that cigarettes do to their lungs. Australian scientists have successfully protected mice lungs against the inflammatory effects of smoking, which can lead to health problems such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But the researchers still gave stern warning that this does nothing to alleviate cancer risks, The Register reports.
Distracted drivers may soon get some warnings from their windshield displays about road hazards such as children playing in the street or vehicles in the driver's blind spot. General Motors has teamed up with university researchers to bring the concept to market around 2016, the New York Times reports.
Buildings or commercial jetliners could soon get a protective coating of shatter-resistant armor similar to the material lining abalone shells. Finnish researchers have developed the lightweight reinforcement so that people can simply paint it on whatever structure, reports Technology Review.
A new super-fast book-scanning technology could make publishers cringe even more than when they heard about Google Book Search. A University of Tokyo researcher has developed a "book flipping scanning" method that does exactly what it sounds like, digitizing 200 pages per minute, according to IEEE Spectrum. The Japanese researchers hope to enable a digital library for Japanese manga comics.
All those hybrid and electric cars, wind turbines and similar clean tech innovations may count for nothing if the U.S. cannot secure a supply of rare earth minerals. Ditto for other advanced telecommunications or defense technologies, scientists told a U.S. House subcommittee.
China has supplied 91 percent of U.S. consumption of rare earths between 2005 and 2008, and continues to represent the world's largest rare earth exporter. But the Chinese have warned that their own domestic industry appetite for rare earths may eventually force them to stop exporting -- an action that would leave the U.S. high-tech industries crippled without other readily available supplies.