What does an engineer do when he needs insight? “I don’t think,” says Maurizio Porfiri. “I watch an insane amount of movies.” He also tends listens to the Cure, devours novels, and tends to his tomatoes. That’s not to say Porfiri is a slacker. He works across several fields to build underwater devices and puts in 12-hour days at the lab, but his best thoughts come to him while he's relaxing.
When astronauts next land on the moon, they're likely to whip up a celebratory dinner of freeze-dried macaroni and cheese. But a new self-building greenhouse could supplement that meal with a fresh salad to eat and oxygen to breathe.
To perform the first scientific survey of the entire Titanic site this summer, the crew of 30 researchers needed several miles of fiber-optic cable and a phalanx of robots. Now that they’ve imaged every surface of the historic ruins, all you’ll need to view their 3-D photo-real model of the wreck is a computer.
Ears pulled back? Nose bulging? Eyes squinting? Get some morphine for that mouse, stat. The first animal "pain face" scale, published in May by neuroscientists at McGill University in Montreal, measures the agony of lab mice. After giving mice a mild stomachache-inducing drug, the researchers recorded changes to five facial features, such as squinting eyes and bulging cheeks, which they combined to produce a 1-to-10 scale. They then verified it with more than 100 other mice, and it correlated with the degree of pain administered.
Check out today's featured Invention Award winner, Zoggles, a device designed to prevent fogging.
Valerie Palfy was at a four-way intersection near her home in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with no traffic lights when her windshield fogged up. While rolling the windows down to see her way across, she had a flash of inspiration. Why not come up with a way to prevent fog altogether? Ten years later, she's the co-inventor of Zoggles, the first system that predicts and prevents fogging on any surface.
For the past six months, fixing our flawed health care system has consumed our country's politics. In the course of the debate (including the health care summit underway today), one of the few things that both sides can agree on is the potential for new technologies to improve the system. And while technology can never do the job on its own, the money-saving potential is vast. Here we've gathered the most promising devices and processes--ranging from simple tweaks of doctors' most basic tools to advanced methods for drug production--that could save our bloated system billions.
Scientists have sequenced the genome of an ancient human for the first time. An international team extracted DNA from 4,000-year-old hair found in Greenland's permafrost. They were able to sequence an impressive 79 percent of the genetic material and shared a thing or two about this ancient Homo sapiens in this week's issue of the journal Nature.
Bacteria love hanging out between your teeth—food gets caught there, and brushing can’t reach all the germs. If the bugs settle in and form a cavity, your dentist must drill through your tooth just to get at it. But now dentists can trade their drills for a simple treatment that stops early-stage cavities.
An 11-year-old boy taps furiously on a laptop, blasting enemies as he weaves through a maze. They wipe him out before he can reach the end—game over. Frustrated, he opens the game’s programming window, adjusts the gravity setting, and this time bounds over the baddies. Victory!