Why send truck-sized rovers when you can send nanobots?
By Becky FerreiraPosted 08.02.2012 at 11:22 am 4 Comments
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, scheduled to reach the red planet this Sunday, is the size of an SUV for good reason: It's built to carry 165 pounds of scientific instruments over boulders and into gullies. But putting Hummer-size robots on other planets is not altogether practical. For one, it's expensive. (Getting a Curiosity-weight rover to Mars takes more than a million pounds of fuel.) Large rovers are also power-hungry and limited in range. For future missions, some researchers, eager to do more science with fewer resources, have begun looking to nanobots—each one about one-one-billionth as big as Curiosity.
By David HamblingPosted 08.01.2012 at 3:28 pm 13 Comments
In the 1930s, U.S. Navy researchers stumbled upon the concept of radar when they noticed that a plane flying past a radio tower reflected radio waves. Scientists have now applied that same principle to make the first device that tracks existing Wi-Fi signals to spy on people through walls.
In the 1930s engineer Adolf Busemann conceived of a supersonic biplane that produced no sonic boom—the shock waves would bounce off the plane's two wings at opposing angles, nullifying each other. But the design created so much drag that the plane wouldn't have been able to fly. Now two groups are trying to improve the concept with computer simulations. Engineers at Japan's Tohoku University devised wings with shifting flaps that adjust for drag at different speeds.
By Laura GeggelPosted 07.19.2012 at 10:05 am 0 Comments
Every year, as many as 300,000 Americans with traumatic brain injuries go undiagnosed, often because they brush off their symptoms or because nothing unusual appears on CT scans of their brains. Without a diagnosis, people risk getting another concussion on top of the one they already have, increasing the chance of complications such as coma and death. But a new blood test could spot a brain injury within a few hours, enabling people to take time off to recover properly.
By Arnie CooperPosted 07.16.2012 at 4:50 pm 7 Comments
A new bionic eye implant could allow blind people to recognize faces, watch TV and even read. Nano Retina's Bio-Retina is one of two recent attempts to help patients with age-related macular degeneration, which affects 1.5 million people in the U.S.
By Josh BearmanPosted 07.02.2012 at 10:12 am 62 Comments
"Some kids wanted to be firefighters,” Igor Pasternak says. “I always thought about blimps.” Pasternak grew up in Lviv, Ukraine, near a weather station. When he was six, he convinced the Soviet meteorologists there to let him launch one of their balloons. “I was hooked,” he says. “I wanted to build airships.”
As we upload more and more videos to the Internet—one hour of new video every second to YouTube alone—experts are finding new ways to mine them. A team led by Igor Curcio of Nokia's Research Center, for example, has developed an algorithm that stitches concertgoers' cellphone footage into a single, synchronized multi-angle film. The concept is relatively simple: the audio track serves as a guide to sync up the footage, and the software chooses the best shots.
By Katharine GammonPosted 06.27.2012 at 12:00 pm 1 Comment
Since 2001, planners at NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) program have been sending people to live in Aquarius, an underwater laboratory three and a half miles south of Key Largo, Florida. Last month, during NEEMO’s 16th mission, three astronauts lived there for 12 days, testing strategies for future asteroid expeditions, evaluating the best spacewalking techniques, and planning how to sample rocks and soil.
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.