Physics nerds and sci-fi geeks just about everywhere agree: lasers are cool. But cool enough to drop the temperature of a gas by 119 degrees in a matter of seconds? German researchers say so, having made advances on ideas reaching back 30 years but never successfully executed. Bombarding high-pressure gas with a laser, the scientists were able to create a significant cooling effect, shaving the aforementioned 119 degrees from the gas almost instantly by pushing electrons into higher orbit.
How exactly does one build an earthquake-proof building? If you answered "make sure the structure rocks completely off its foundation," you're actually in good company. A research team led by Stanford and the University of Illinois successfully tested a structural system that holds a building together through a magnitude-seven earthquake, and even pulls it back upright on its foundation when the quaking stops. The key: embracing the shaking, by limiting the damage to a few flexible, replaceable areas within the building's frame.
Most people don't think too much about bovine hurt when they chow down on a Big Mac or Whopper. But for those with moral pangs, scientists say genetic engineering might provide a solution, by creating pain-free animals that can satiate the human appetite without suffering.
Those chemical handwarmers you stuff in your gloves during ski season usually solve just one problem: frosty digits. But the sodium acetate used to generate that heat is a far better problem solver than you might think; researchers in Bristol, U.K., have created a "hot ice" computer that utilizes the chemical compound to solve mazes and tackle various other computing problems.
This simulator goes far beyond the olden days of the board game "Operation." Last month, for the first time, neurosurgeons rehearsed on a 3-D model of a patient's brain just hours before removing a brain tumor for real.
Los Angelenos have recently watched billowing clouds from a nearby wildfire hover overhead, in scenes reminiscent of "Volcano." NASA's Terra satellite took the opportunity to snap a photo of the smoke monster on the night of August 30. Red outlines in the photo indicate wildfire hotspots.
It's the year 2023 and you're lost in a gigametropolis full of flying cars and robots who have achieved singularity. A guide literally appears before your eyes, giving you enough info about your surroundings to guide you on your way. The computerized contact lenses that Babak Parviz is developing could make this fantasy a reality.
You’re in luck. For their senior project, two Cornell University computer-engineering whizzes recently built a machine that does just that. After learning in class how breathalyzers work, Robert Clain and Miguel Salas assembled a fart detector from a sensitive hydrogen sulfide monitor, a thermometer and a microphone and wrote the software that would rate the emission. A “slight perturbance in the air” near the detector sets it to work measuring the three pillars of fart quality: stench, temperature and sound. Temperature, Clain explains, is critical.