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.
Powerful X-ray images are showing for the first time what happens inside a working battery as it discharges power, and it could lead to improvements for a new type of battery that promises better storage capacity at a lower cost.
A great new challenge from InnoCentive, with a nice hefty prize, all centering around improving natural gas operations. Mercury, which as we all know is highly toxic, is present in low concentrations in natural gas. There are lots of methods to remove it, but they could definitely be better--and that's where you come in. If you can figure out a new idea for removing mercury, you'll win $10,000. But hurry up--there are already 54 solvers engaged with the challenge. The deadline for submission is August 19th. Read about it over at InnoCentive.
In California, at the ultra-powerful fusion laboratory of the National Ignition Facility, 192 laser beams have fired simultaneously, blasting their target -- a circle 2 millimeters in diameter -- with 500 trillion watts. That's 1,000 times more than the entire rest of the United States was using at the time. It is the highest-energy laser shot ever fired in real life, although some fictional lasers have exceeded the record.
PopSci is pleased to present videos created by Motherboard, Vice Media's guide to future culture. Motherboard's original videos that run the gamut from in-depth, investigative reports to profiles of the offbeat forward-thinking characters who are sculpting our bizarre present.
The idea of building small, thorium-based nuclear reactors – thought to be dramatically safer, cheaper, cleaner and terror-proof than our current catalog of reactors – can be shooed away as fringe by some. But the germ of the idea began with some of the country's greatest scientists, in the U.S. government's major atomic lab, at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in the 1960s.
Small power generators that can harvest energy from ambient sources like heat, vibrations, and light hold a lot of promise across a range of applications, particularly in things like remote monitoring. They can harvest the vibrations imparted by vehicles passing over a bridge to power sensors that monitor the bridge's structural integrity, for instance, or keep a network of wildfire-detecting sensors working in the remote wilderness, no batteries necessary.
To build a quantum computer, scientists first have to build a working qubit, or quantum bit, that is both controllable and measurable (something that, for few very quantum reasons, is fairly challenging). But a group of Harvard physicists have overcome some key obstacles to turn the impurities in lab-grown diamonds into quantum bits capable of holding information at room temperature for nearly two seconds--an eternity in quantum coherence times.
By some estimates, Boston is one of the 10 worst cities for traffic congestion in the United States. To alleviate the problem, Boston tapped IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge and the technical expertise of that company’s engineers to build an app that merges everything from cell phone accelerometer data to comments made via social media to paint an all-encompassing realtime picture of Boston’s traffic situation.
By Evgeny Katz as told to Flora LichtmanPosted 06.26.2012 at 3:30 pm 8 Comments
Our biofuel cell generates power from glucose sugar in a snail's body. We drill holes through the shell and implant enzyme-coated electrodes in the hemolymph, or snail blood, that naturally collects between the snail's body and shell. Like any battery, ours is based on chemical reactions that create a flow of electrons. One electrode grabs electrons from glucose in the hemolymph. The electrons then travel through an external circuit—including any device we want to power—and end up at the opposing electrode. There, the electrons react with oxygen in the hemolymph to form water.
By twisting radio waves into a threaded vortex, an international team of researchers has beamed data through the air at 2.5 terabits per second, creating what has to be the fastest wireless network ever created. Moreover, the technique used to create this effect has no real theoretical ceiling, ExtremeTech reports.