News

Light-Up Skin Stretches Robotic Boundaries

Cornell University researchers have developed an electroluminescent skin capable of stretching to nearly six times its original size while still emitting light.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Self-Test Kit Warns Soldiers of Biological Exposure

The U.S. Army’s newly developed biological self-test kit can quickly identify the presence of a pathogen of concern such as ricin, anthrax, or plague, and automatically send the result to a soldier and his commander. Known as SmartCAR, the device uses a colorimetric assay, much like a home pregnancy test strip.

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NASA Tests Life-Detection Drill in Earth’s Driest Place

The Atacama Rover Astrobiology Drilling Studies (ARADS) project completed its first deployment after one month of field work in the hyper-arid core of the Atacama Desert in Chile, the “driest place on Earth.” More than 20 scientists from the United States, Chile, Spain, and France camped together miles from civilization and worked in extremely dry, 100+ degree heat with high winds during the first ARADS field deployment.

Posted in: News

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App Turns Smartphones into Earthquake Detection Network

UC Berkeley scientists released a free Android app that taps a smartphone’s ability to record ground shaking from an earthquake, with the goal of creating a worldwide seismic detection network that could eventually warn users of impending jolts from nearby quakes. The app, called MyShake, is available from the Google Play Store and runs in the background with little power, so that a phone’s onboard accelerometers can record local shaking any time of the day or night.

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Will commercial supersonic planes become a viable way to travel?

This week's Question: NASA announced last week that it was resurrecting a supersonic aircraft called the Quiet SST (“QueSST”). The space agency believes that the traditional sonic boom can be mitigated into a soft thump, or “heartbeat.” Supersonic planes could potentially reduce cross-country travel times to two hours or less, and make a trans-Atlantic trip in a matter of a few hours. The question is whether commercial jet makers and airlines will use the design concept.   What do you think? Will commercial supersonic planes become a viable way to travel?  

Posted in: Question of the Week

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Ultra-Thin Solar Cells Rest on a Soap Bubble

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have demonstrated a solar cell so light and thin that it can rest atop a soap bubble.Though it may take years before the device is developed into a commercial product, the laboratory proof-of-concept shows a new approach to making solar cells that could help power the next generation of portable electronic devices.

Posted in: News

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Will driverless cars increase road reliance?

This week's Question: Autonomous vehicles have been touted as a way to combat roadway accidents and reduce energy expenditure and greenhouse gas emissions. A new study from University of Leeds, University of Washington, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, however, claims that the actual impact may be both positive and negative due to how technology will change humanity’s relationship with vehicles. The study estimated, for example, a 50% to 60% increase in car energy consumption due to travelers choosing to use driverless cars in situations where they would have previously taken alternative transport, such as trains or planes. Additionally, the study predicts that people who currently find it difficult to drive, such as the elderly or those with disabilities, will have increased access to road transport with the advent of the new systems, resulting in an estimated 2% to 10% increase in road energy use for personal travel.  What do you think? Will driverless cars increase road reliance?  

Posted in: Question of the Week

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