Those one-way mirrors made famous by cop dramas aren't actually one-way. They simply play off the differences in light on each side. That is, if the lights were equally as bright behind the mirror as in front, that rattled suspect could see right through to the cops on the other side.
Plenty of people are designing robots inspired by nature's designs, but most of them are rigid machines made of metal, plastic or polyester film. Fleet-footed robots or hoverbots are unable to bend and squish into tight spaces, but squirmy, agile ones like snakebots can't move very fast.
A new soft-bodied silicone robot aims to change that, squirming into tight spaces with ease and covering great distances quickly, flipping out like a caterpillar under siege.
The Extreme Light Infrastructure will be built in Eastern Europe
By Jennie WaltersPosted 04.26.2011 at 2:07 pm 22 Comments
Who knew it would take so long to approve a project to build the world’s most powerful lasers? Lasers are awesome. But after reconciling some paltry funding issues, the European Commission finally approved the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project, which plans to build three superlasers by 2015.
One of the major barriers between solar energy and solar-derived electricity is solar cells themselves--commercial solar cells aren’t very efficient at converting sunlight to electricity, but they are the best thing we’ve got. Now, a team of University of Michigan researchers have potentially devised a better way to convert solar energy into electricity: get rid of the semiconductor-based solar cells altogether and tap into the magnetic effects of light.
The speed of light dictates a lot of things in the realm of physics (like the upper limit of the speed of anything), and now it's dictating how and where financial institutions do their trading. High-frequency trading that leverages small price differences in the price of a financial instrument trading on two geographically removed markets relies on executing trades extremely quickly, and latencies in fiber optic networks can create competitive advantages and disadvantages.
The story of Roger Babson, gravity's sworn enemy, and his Gravity Research Foundation
By Natalie WolchoverPosted 03.15.2011 at 12:11 pm 23 Comments
Beside the path leading from the library to the academic quad at Tufts University is what appears to be a misplaced gravestone, pictured here.
As an undergraduate physics student at Tufts, needless to say, I found this monolith intriguing. Who was Roger W. Babson? What was the mysteriously austere Gravity Research Foundation? And above all, what blessings would come forth upon the discovery of a gravity semi-insulator – and what does that even mean?
There's no escaping it: though the tractor beam is a staple of sci-fi space-faring scenarios, it's also extremely counter-intuitive. How does one pull something in via an outward propagating beam? Now a few Chinese researchers think they've found the answer via a theoretical method that should generate a backward pulling force from a forward traveling stream of photons.
Antimatter is a very fickle medium; infinitely interesting to study, it tends to disappear in a burst of gamma rays when it comes into contact with absolutely anything (anything that’s considered ordinary matter, anyhow). That property makes it difficult to get a good look at antimatter, so a team of researchers at the UC San Diego is building the world’s largest antimatter container.