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Power, Water and Refrigeration in One Box 148

Roland Piquepaille writes "Engineers at the University of Florida have developed and built a system that can provide power, water and refrigeration from a single unit. This project, funded by the U.S. Army, will lead to units small enough to fit inside a military jet or a large truck. The prototype system is already more efficient than conventional turbines. And it is also environmentally friendly because it can use traditional fossil fuels as well as biomass-produced fuels or hydrogen and releases only small amounts of pollutants. This kind of system could be used as a mobile unit in case of hurricanes or wars. But it might also be connected to the normal power grid in fixed locations."

Text Mining the New York Times 104

Roland Piquepaille writes "Text mining is a computer technique to extract useful information from unstructured text. And it's a difficult task. But now, using a relatively new method named topic modeling, computer scientists from University of California, Irvine (UCI), have analyzed 330,000 stories published by the New York Times between 2000 and 2002 in just a few hours. They were able to automatically isolate topics such as the Tour de France, prices of apartments in Brooklyn or dinosaur bones. This technique could soon be used not only by homeland security experts or librarians, but also by physicians, lawyers, real estate people, and even by yourself. Read more for additional details and a graph showing how the researchers discovered links between topics and people."

Anna Konda, the Robotic Firefighter 94

Roland Piquepaille writes "In fact, Anna Konda is a robotic fire hose moving like a snake. This robot, which has been developed in Norway by SINTEF, is 3 m long and weighs 70 kg. The snake contains 20 water hydraulic motors that move the robotic joints. And the energy needed to power these motors comes from water pressurized to 100 bars and already available inside the fire hose. This gives enough energy to this water-powered robot to climb up stairs, to lift a car up off the ground or even break through a wall. Very clever design! The designers think that this robot could not only replace humans to fight fires when it's too dangerous for them, but could also be used for subsea operations or explosion prevention. An additional overview contains more details and pictures of this snake robot."

Mixing brain cells and nanodots 73

Roland Piquepaille writes "It's not the first time that animal brain cells have been used in conjunction with nanoparticles. But now, a team of Israeli researchers have grown self-organizing networks of rat brain cells by binding them to carbon nanotubes. In a short article, New Scientist reports that these neural networks are remarkably stable, surviving for almost three months in the lab. These hybrid networks could be used in future biological sensors. For example, they could identify a poison by measuring its effect on such a network of brain cells."

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