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The Lead

Tech Upgrades Your Thumbnail

April 17, 2015 3:00 pm | by MIT, Larry Hardesty | Videos | Comments

Researchers are developing a new wearable device that turns the user’s thumbnail into a miniature wireless track pad. They envision that the technology could let users control wireless devices when their hands are full— answering the phone while cooking, for instance.

Would Passenger Planes Sans Pilots Be Safer?

April 17, 2015 3:00 pm | by Associated Press, Scott Mayerowitz | News | Comments

To improve airline safety, maybe we need to remove the pilots. That radical idea is decades away...

Today in Lab History: Woman Flies Solo Around the World

April 17, 2015 7:00 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | News | Comments

Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock became the first woman to fly around the Earth solo when she landed in...

Bubbles Can Keep Rivers Moving

April 17, 2015 7:00 am | by EPFL | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how air bubbles could keep sediments from obstructing bends in river...

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Patents Can Forecast Technology Speed

April 16, 2015 7:00 am | by MIT | News | Comments

How fast is online learning evolving? Are wind turbines a promising investment? And how long before a cheap hoverboard makes it to market? Attempting to answer such questions requires knowing about the rate at which a technology is improving. Now, engineers have devised a formula for estimating how fast a technology is advancing, based on information gleaned from relevant patents.

Cheap Mesh Separates Oil from Water

April 16, 2015 7:00 am | by The Ohio State Univ. | Videos | Comments

The unassuming piece of stainless steel mesh doesn’t look like a very big deal, but this new material could make a big difference for future environmental cleanups. Water passes through the mesh but oil doesn’t, thanks to a nearly invisible oil-repelling coating on its surface.

Camera Runs Sans Battery

April 15, 2015 3:00 pm | by Columbia Engineering | News | Comments

A research team has invented a prototype video camera that is the first to be fully self-powered— it can produce an image each second, indefinitely, of a well-lit indoor scene. They designed a pixel that can not only measure incident light but also convert the incident light into electric power.

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Prey May Dazzle for Protection

April 15, 2015 3:00 pm | by Inside Science News Service, Ker Than | News | Comments

The rainbow-hued shimmer of fish scales, bird feathers and insect bodies that change color and brightness depending on viewing angle can be mesmerizing, but biologists have long debated the purpose of the displays. New research suggests that, for some organisms, iridescence evolved as an anti-predator defense to dazzle and confuse predators with sudden shifts in color and brightness in a bid to gain a few precious moments for escape.

MRI Sheds Light on a Bad Habit

April 15, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Alberta | News | Comments

Researchers have used MRI video to determine what happens inside finger joints to cause the distinctive popping sounds heard when cracking knuckles. For the first time, they observed that the cause is a cavity forming rapidly inside the joint.

Engineering Education Lacking in K-12 Schools

April 15, 2015 8:00 am | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A study aimed at improving engineering education in public schools found that only a dozen states clearly define and lay out engineering curricula for K-12 students in their science standards. Worse, only four of these states present a "comprehensive" inclusion of engineering.

Planes, Math, Lasers Team to Keep an Eye on Nature

April 15, 2015 7:00 am | by Vienna Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Monitoring Europe’s vast nature protection areas used to be extremely difficult. Thanks to computer algorithms, this can now be done using aircraft and laser technology.

Dark Matter Might Not Be

April 15, 2015 7:00 am | by Durham Univ. | News | Comments

Astronomers believe they might have observed the first potential signs of dark matter interacting with a force other than gravity. They saw a dark matter clump that appeared to be lagging behind the galaxy it surrounds. Such an offset is predicted during collisions if dark matter interacts, even very slightly, with forces other than gravity.

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New Treadmill Emulates Natural Running

April 15, 2015 7:00 am | by The Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

Exercise researchers have developed a new treadmill that automatically changes speed to match the pace of the runner. The automated treadmill uses sonar to tell exactly where the runner is.

Autonomous, Swarming Drones Are On the Horizon

April 15, 2015 7:00 am | by Office of Naval Research | Videos | Comments

A new era in autonomy and unmanned systems for naval operations is on the horizon, as officials announced recent technology demonstrations of swarming unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)— part of the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program. LOCUST can launch swarming UAVs to autonomously overwhelm an adversary.

Nanotube Film Can Heat, Cure Composite Materials

April 14, 2015 3:00 pm | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | News | Comments

Composite materials used in aircraft wings and fuselages are typically manufactured in large, industrial-sized ovens: multiple polymer layers are blasted with temperatures up to 750 F, and solidified to form a resilient material. Now, aerospace engineers have developed a carbon nanotube film that can heat and solidify a composite without the need for massive ovens.

Focused A/C Aids Electric Cars

April 14, 2015 3:00 pm | by Technische Universität München | News | Comments

Researchers seeking better efficiency for cars quickly determined that cooling in direct proximity to the body provided the most efficient alternative to normal air conditioning. In contrast to previously deployed solutions, in which the entire interior is cooled or heated to the same temperature, heat is generated or dissipated only where it can actually be felt by the passengers.

Big Data Pinpoints Perfect Locations for Hydro-power

April 14, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Leicester | News | Comments

A technology has the potential to revolutionize the sourcing of renewable energy from rivers. A software app automatically selects appropriate locations in rivers to site a large range of micro renewable hydro-power turbines and determines the environmental sensitivity of the location.

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Image of the Week: New Rules Proposed Five Years After Deepwater Horizon

April 14, 2015 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Kevin Freking | News | Comments

A week shy of the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Obama administration proposed new regulations aimed at strengthening oversight of offshore oil drilling equipment and ensuring that out-of-control wells can be sealed in an emergency.

Walking Faster Can Save You from a Tsunami

April 14, 2015 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Jeff Barnard | News | Comments

About 5,500 more people could survive a major tsunami hitting the Pacific Northwest if they just walk a little faster to higher ground after roads are knocked out, a new study shows. The report looked at 73 communities along 700 miles of coastline in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.

Drug Test is Printed on Paper

April 13, 2015 3:00 pm | by VTT Technical Research Centre | News | Comments

Researchers have developed the first drug test printed on paper. They used antibodies as morphine sensing molecules when creating this printing technology-based morphine test. Using printing technology to manufacture rapid tests enables high production volumes and low production costs.

New Programming Cuts Thousands of Lines to 50

April 13, 2015 3:00 pm | by MIT, Larry Hardesty | News | Comments

Most recent advances in artificial intelligence are the result of machine learning, in which computers are turned loose on huge data sets to look for patterns. To make machine-learning applications easier to build, computer scientists have begun developing so-called probabilistic programming languages, which let researchers mix and match machine-learning techniques that have worked well in other contexts.

Combined Sewer Systems Heighten Health Risks

April 10, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Illinois at Chicago | News | Comments

Consumers whose drinking water can be contaminated by the release of untreated wastewater after heavy rains face increased risk for gastrointestinal illness. “Combined” sewer systems collect both sewage and stormwater runoff on the way to treatment facilities.

Materials Convert Heat to Electricity

April 9, 2015 3:00 pm | by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory | News | Comments

NASA has licensed patents on high-temperature thermoelectric materials that convert heat into electricity. For example, by using this technology, waste-heat from a car could potentially be fed back into the vehicle and used to generate electricity.

Tunneling Explains Heat Flow

April 7, 2015 3:00 pm | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a model that explains how heat flows between objects separated by gaps of less than a nanometer. They developed a unified framework that calculates heat transport at finite gaps, and have shown that heat flow at sub-nanometer distances occurs not via radiation or conduction, but through “phonon tunneling.”

Science Connect: State-of-the-art Laboratories

April 7, 2015 12:05 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor, R&D | Videos | Comments

Sometimes just reading about great lab and building design isn’t enough. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the annual Laboratory Design Conference allows our attendees to view some of the most sexy, most well-planned and most sustainable labs there are in the host city.

Chemistry May Yield a Game of Thrones Sword

April 7, 2015 7:00 am | by ACS | Videos | Comments

The fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” is back this Sunday night, and it is sure to be chock full of intrigue, indiscretions and, of course, swords. The most sought-after blades in Westeros are made from Valyrian steel, forged using ancient magic. But could you make your own Valyrian steel sword using real-life chemistry?

First Metal-free Catalyst Works in Zinc-air Batteries

April 7, 2015 7:00 am | by Case Western Reserve Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have made what they believe is the first metal-free bifunctional electrocatalyst that performs as well or better than most metal and metal oxide electrodes in zinc-air batteries.

Image of the Week: Ground Test of New Wing Design

April 7, 2015 7:00 am | by NASA | News | Comments

Leading Edge Asynchronous Propeller Technology (LEAPTech) project researchers at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center are performing ground testing of a 31-foot-span, carbon composite wing section with 18 electric motors.

Device Separates Cancer Cells with Sound

April 7, 2015 7:00 am | by Carnegie Mellon Univ. | News | Comments

A simple blood test may one day replace invasive biopsies thanks to a new device that uses sound waves to separate blood-borne cancer cells from white blood cells. Researchers have reported the latest advancement that brings their device one step closer to clinical use.

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