Long the pursuit of scientists the world over, a Princeton University researcher has devised a means of alchemy by transforming common elements into rare and valuable ones. Dr. Paul Chirik isn't actually turning boring metals into gold and platinum, but his lab has figured out how to make relatively inexpensive and abundant metals like iron behave like platinum in catalytic chemical reactions, which are a major consumer of precious metals in industry. His research could make an impact across industries, making it cheaper to produce everything from textiles to cosmetics to adhesives (and that's just naming a few).
Researchers at ETH-Zurich are borrowing from biology to cool buildings in a novel way: by making them "sweat." They've developed a permeable polymer mat that can be spread across rooftops to absorb moisture like a sponge when it rains, locking it inside. But when heated to a certain temperature by the sun the material becomes hydrophobic and pushes the water out.