By Lana BirbrairPosted 02.24.2012 at 2:45 pm 2 Comments
About 2.6 billion people worldwide do not have access to a sanitary toilet. To fix this, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded eight grants last year to scientists and engineers to invent a toilet that could function without piped water, a sewer system or outside electricity—and would cost less than 5 cents a day to operate. With the funding, scientists are working on using processes such as evaporation, combustion, pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion to break down waste in toilets into three essential resources: water, fertilizer and fuel. Click here to see how it works.
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).
Instability begets instability. At least, that’s the lesson learned from a couple of Caltech researchers studying the way magnetic field lines break and reconnect. Such magnetic breakage and reconnection at some scales can be quite violent, like when the sun’s magnetic field lines snap and toss off a coronal mass ejection. But at smaller scales, it just looks really cool.
By Clay Dillow and Paul AdamsPosted 02.13.2012 at 5:29 pm 3 Comments
It’s been nearly a full month since the Costa Concordia ran aground just off the Tuscan island of Giglio, and after two weeks of delays salvage workers yesterday began pumping operations aimed at recovering most of the half million gallons of fuel aboard the badly listing Italian cruise liner. Roughly 84 percent of that fuel is stuck in 15 large tanks, and pumping that volume out of the ship will likely take another month--and that’s with the pumps running around the clock.
Installing a solar roof on your home could one day be as simple as mixing your yard clippings into a stew of inexpensive chemicals and painting the resulting mixture right onto your rooftop. An MIT researcher has developed a method of manufacturing solar panels on the spot from agricultural waste, sidestepping the need for silicon and making ready-to-mix solar cheap and abundant virtually anywhere.
The notion of multiple universes is one that cosmologists like to theorize about but generally don’t relish proving, mainly because doing so would be very difficult. But a team of researchers that showed a few years ago how matter might travel between our universe and others now think they ought to be able to observe this phenomenon in action using existing technology, lending credence to the multiverse theory. All they need is a neutron bottle, some neutrons, and a year.
Unless you’re disputing the world record in the 100-meter dash or a buzzer-beater in basketball, a single second is generally not something worth arguing about. But today in Geneva, a single second will be the topic of intense debate as hundreds of delegates from more than 70 nations decide whether or not to kill the “leap second” at a meeting of the UN’s telecommunications agency.
An algorithm called the fast Fourier transform is one of the most important aspects of your digital life that you never think about. It’s a core concept in information technology, making possible the signal processing, image and audio compression, and other complex mathematics necessary for you to cram every episode of Breaking Bad onto your mobile device alongside every track Jay-Z ever made, and then play it all back without a hitch.
Today in crazy tricks of physics, a few researchers over at the University of Southampton in the U.K. have theorized that metamaterials ought to be able to generate a wholly new kind of force--something akin to the adhesive force created by gecko toes--that can be turned on and off optically with the throwing of a switch. That force ought to be strong enough to overcome the force of Earth’s gravity, opening the door to a range of potential applications--if and when the actual force is found.
Vancouver-based quantum computer maker D-Wave Systems is the kind of company that often gets mixed reviews--either kudos for working on the very edge of a new and potentially groundbreaking technology, or dismissal for not exactly delivering the kind of Earth-shattering technology that people were perhaps expecting. Regardless, today D-Wave is marking one in the win column after announcing that it has achieved the world’s largest quantum computation using 84 qubits.