By Joseph A. BernsteinPosted 07.28.2011 at 10:07 am 19 Comments
Consider the autoclave, which scientists use to sterilize tools and which issues scalding steam to do so. Or consider the heat gun, which is used to dry glassware and to warm distillation devices. It can also ignite anything flammable that gets too close. Glass containers in a vacuum can implode, spraying shards everywhere. Centrifuge rotors can fail, causing explosions that throw shock waves throughout a lab filled with chemicals. Steel vessels built to contain liquids and gases at hundreds of pounds of pressure per square inch can rupture, hurling metal at lab workers.
By Jennie WaltersPosted 07.26.2011 at 10:12 am 7 Comments
In March, astronomers at Rutgers University studying the supernova remnant Tycho revealed a surprise. Using the Chandra orbiting x-ray telescope, they found unexpectedly structured patterns within Tycho. Normally supernova remnants are chaotic, says Kristoffer Eriksen, who worked on the project. The scientists had anticipated a complicated network of holes and walls inside the royal-blue shock wave, but instead they saw regularly spaced light-blue stripes.
By Barry Trimmer, as told to Flora LichtmanPosted 07.25.2011 at 10:27 am 1 Comment
I make robots that are soft and floppy. If you can change your shape, you can go anywhere—you can squeeze through small holes in a rubble field and navigate unstructured terrain like forests. The problem is that if you’re soft, you’re slow, because when you push against something, your body deforms rather than creating forward motion. So we looked to the caterpillar as a model.
By Joshua SaulPosted 07.21.2011 at 2:00 pm 7 Comments
"Barnacle" has become a term for something tenacious and problematic for a reason--they are determined little buggers that cause lots of damage to marine craft. But dealing with barnacles can create even more problems than it solves.
The Netflix app has been available on Apple’s iOS and Windows Phone 7 since last year. When it finally came out for Android in May, some users found, to their great frustration, that it didn’t work on their phones--not even their fancy new 4G phones like the HTC Thunderbolt.
These ten awe-inspiring science projects range from the world's largest undersea observatory to the "ultimate microscope" to a Jupiter orbiter on a suicide mission--but they're all massive, often in both size and scope
To improve our view of a vast and complex universe, scientists are creating increasingly ambitious new tools. The work is not easy. Truly big science requires decades of expensive commitment from multiple nations. But the instruments that result are nearly as awe-inspiring as the new worlds they help us discover. Check out our ranking of the 10 most epic.
By Jennie WaltersPosted 07.19.2011 at 10:55 am 39 Comments
When officials in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Spain, suggested placing solar panels in the town's cemetery, they were met with significant skepticism. But after three years of public outreach, the city council prevailed and the town mounted 462 solar panels on top of a quarter-acre of mausoleums.
By Rena Marie PacellaPosted 07.15.2011 at 4:03 pm 0 Comments
Every month, some 1,300 ships heading to or from the Suez Canal must pass through the lawless waters off the coast of Somalia. Pirate attacks are at an all-time high—more than 200 have already been reported this year. As of May, pirates were holding more than 500 hostages and 26 hijacked ships, and companies are losing up to $8.3 billion a year.