Animals use electricity to move, and so electricity can be used to make them move, as the scientists at Backyard Brains show in a neat DIY experiment that can be done with a cockroach's leg. For a larger scale version, they connected the device to a squid, which produce pigmented cells called chromatophores to reflect light. By using an iPod blasting Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Membrane" as the stimulant, they discovered a lovely, abstract look at the process.
Your smartphone is probably losing track of time. Most electronics with internal clocks keep them regulated via vibrating crystals (much like a quartz clock) that keep their timekeeping precise. But while far better timekeepers than mechanical clocks, even these crystals can be thrown off their regular frequencies by external factors like humidity or temperature.
Researchers at Stanford and the DOE's SLAC National Accelerator Lab have created a new kind of graphene that promises the first-ever "designer electrons" that can be custom tuned to exhibit exotic properties. This "molecular graphene" could lead to whole new types of materials with new electrical properties, which in turn could spawn whole new kinds of devices.
The way electrons conduct their business is central to just about everything we consider modern electronic technology.
Laser light can not only trigger lightning but redirect it, causing it to strike in the same place over and over, according to new research. This means lasers could serve as lightning rods. Because that would be awesome.
A team from Wake Forest University's Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials has created a new thermoelectric fabric they call Power Felt. It's constructed of "tiny carbon nanotubes locked up in flexible plastic fibers," though the final product looks and feels like fabric, and creates and electrical charge from changes in temperature--like, say, touching it with your hot finger, or sitting on it with your hot butt (hot in this case referring to temperature and thus wholly inoffensive science).
We've seen single-molecule "motors" before, but they're pretty primitive, motors only in the most basic sense of the word. But this new one, made of a single butyl methyl sulfide molecule, is much closer to what images the word "motor" might conjure: when electricity is applied, the molecule is triggered to spin, without affecting any other molecules around it.
At least half of the 265 million people worldwide who play soccer live in developing regions, where electricity can be scarce. The sOccket, designed and distributed by New York–based nonprofit Uncharted Play, is a regulation-size ball that converts kicks and headers into off-the-grid power. With it, two hours of play produces enough wattage to light an LED for at least a night.