Lithium-ion batteries used in hybrid cars, laptops and cell phones have occasionally undergone recalls and false scares concerning the possibility of exploding. Stanford University scientists have created lithium-sulfide electrodes that could create batteries that last four times longer and avoid any risk of possible explosions, Technology Review reports.
There's been a lot of talk lately about what's happening underground, from DARPA's Transparent Earth program to subterranean navigation systems (for real). Not to be out-DARPA'd by DARPA, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency is seeking a "one-time use, air-delivered, highly mobile vehicle" that can tunnel into the earth and deliver a munitions payload underground.
The idea is for the Robotic Underground Munition to make a soft landing after being dropped from an aircraft, at which point it would traverse surface terrain to a predetermined point and start tunneling, autonomously navigating underground until it locates its target. The RUM could then deliver a payload, which could range from a strongly worded letter to a warhead.
Human skin is apparently a very energy-efficient conduit for transmitting data. A recent experiment achieved a rate of 10 megabits per second, which may put my Internet connection to shame. The experiment used small, flexible electrodes and took place at Korea University in Seoul, New Scientist reports.
President Obama likely faces a tough crowd when he attempts to articulate his vision for NASA in Florida next month, but in the meantime the private space industry he's thrown his support behind continues to make strides. Private space tech company SpaceX just completed its first successful test-fire of its Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad, meeting a critical benchmark in its mission to launch cargo and astronauts into orbit.
Solar storms could wreak havoc on satellites and power grids, and so scientists have humbly turned to netizens across the world to help watch our sun for possible signs of such storms. Anyone who can spare some time from YouTube and Facebook also gets to peer at nifty 3-D images of the sun, according to BBC.
Piezoelectric materials that create energy when flexed might go beyond recharging our smart phones and help make hydrogen fuel. Scientists have harnessed piezoelectric energy from nanocrystal fibers to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas.
"This is a new phenomenon, converting mechanical energy directly to chemical energy," said Huifang Xu, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and his colleagues have dubbed it the piezoelectrochemical (PZEC) effect.
Tiny manufacturing flaws on the atomic level might cause most companies to throw up their hands, but MIT-spinoff Verayo saw them as the key to creating the perfect anti-counterfeiting tags for everything from Walmart DVD shipments to futuristic passports. The company's radio frequency identification (RFID) tags rely upon no two chip being exactly alike on the atomic level, Technology Review reports.
Here's one genius computer program you might consider pushing virally for science's sake. The "Quake Catchers" program aims to make earthquake detection a lot easier and cheaper by taking advantage of accelerometers built into MacBooks and other newer laptops, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Perhaps it's time for Space Ghost to hand over his moniker to the International Space Station (ISS). The orbital outpost makes for an eerie blue shadow in this image taken by a German radar satellite, SPACE.com reports.
The snapshot was taken by Germany's TerraSAR-X satellite on March 13, 2008. But the German space agency only released the startling view of the then-incomplete space station this month.
Yes: this is, in fact, the largest video-game peripheral you've ever seen. The VirtuSphere is a new interface that captures movements in 360 degrees, and translates them into a video game. The gang over at Joystiq first caught wind of the human hamster ball in '06, but got to see it in the flesh just this week.