Roland Piquepaille writes: "According to two professors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and smart lighting could save trillions of dollars worldwide in the next ten years. They claim that innovations in photonics and solid state lighting could also lead to 'a massive reduction in the amount of energy required to light homes and businesses around the globe.' Of course, I would be happy to fully agree with the researchers, but these benefits will only be achieved if all of the world's light bulbs are replaced with LEDs. I seriously doubt it can happen. Still, it's certain that a new generation of lighting devices based on LEDs will become available and reduce our carbon dioxide emissions. Read more for additional references and pictures showing the efficiency of various lighting technologies and how white light can be created by using several LEDs"
Roland Piquepaille writes: "An international team of researchers has started to collect imaging data on the Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat which erupts regularly since 1995. They're using the equivalent of a CAT scan to understand its internal structure and how and when it erupts. Several years ago, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the CALIPSO project ('Caribbean Andesitic Lava Island Precision Seismo-geodetic Observatory'). The new experiment is dubbed SEA-CALIPSO ('Seismic Experiment with Air-gun source') and 'will use air guns and a string of sensors off the back of a research ship combined with sensors on land to try to image the magma chamber.' Early results are surprising, as said one of the leading scientists: 'The interesting thing is that much more magma is erupting than appears represented by the subsiding bowl.' Read more for many additional references and for an aerial photo of the erupting volcano on Montserrat taken two days ago."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "According to Scientific American in this short article, the U.S. Army has developed a new blast-protection adhesive tape. This X-FLEX tape would be used to coat the interior sides of exterior walls in order to absorb the shock of a blast, protecting the occupants from flying concrete and metal turned into projectiles. Of course, such a material could also be used to protect civilians. After the Mumbai attacks last month, the hotel industry might be interested in such a protection for its customers. Read more for additional details."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "Because transistors will inevitably stop to shrink in size in the future, European researchers are studying atomic-scale computing. According to ICT Results, this would allow computer processes to be carried out in a single molecule. 'In theory, atomic-scale computing could put computers more powerful than today's supercomputers in everyone's pocket.' So far, the EU-funded team has already designed a simple logic gate with 30 atoms that perform the same task as 14 transistors. The project coordinator said: 'Atomic-scale computing researchers today are in much the same position as transistor inventors were before 1947. No one knows where this will lead.' So don't expect to use a computer based on molecular components anytime soon. Read more for additional details and a picture showing the various interconnections studied by the Pico-Inside project going from atomic level to millimeter scale."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "The title of this Seattle Weekly article is so good that I'm using it for this post. In fact, the newspaper revisits the different contracts that Cray Inc. has signed with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in 2008. It says that with this $30 million commitment, Cray Inc. is helping the DoD to 'test its newest bulletproof vests, gauge the accuracy of modern missiles, and even forecast the weather on battlefields.' These contracts, which were unveiled in February 2008, concern the delivery of four XT5 massively parallel, blade-style supercomputers. One of these supercomputers is already having an upgrade: the Army Research Laboratory Major Shared Resource Center (ARL MSRC) has increased its computing capability from 100 to 200 teraflops. Read more for additional details."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "MIT researchers think that flying robots could be used to improve weather forecasts and to give people more time to prepare for the worst in case of an emergency. 'With more time for advanced planning, farmers could bring in their crop before a big storm hits. Airlines could adjust their flight schedules further in advance, reducing the impact on customers,' said one of the engineers. And the team leader added that improving weather forecasting could also save lives because 'people do get killed in these storms.' Read more for additional details."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "Chinese and U.S. researchers have developed a carbon nanotube-coated smart yarn which can conduct electricity and be woven into textiles to detect blood or to monitor health. According to one of the lead researchers, today's smart textiles, which are made of metallic or optical fibers, are fragile and not comfortable. So the team combined two fibers, one natural and one created by nanotechnology, to build a new kind of smart textile. If a soldier wearing clothes made with this fabric was wounded, his mobile phone could alert a nearby patrol to save his life. Read more for additional details and references, including a picture showing how this carbon-nanotube coated smart yarn can conduct enough electricity from a battery to power a light-emitting diode device."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "Climate change and global warming are realities nobody can deny. Today, it is important to feed the world at lower costs. An international team of researchers led by biologists at the University of Bristol in the UK has 'shown how to increase the length of root hairs on plants, potentially improving crop yields, as plants with longer root hairs take up minerals and water more efficiently.' Very interesting approach, but read more for additional details and references, including an interesting artist rendering showing how this research work would help to feed Africa."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "As you probably know, Earth's magnetosphere, 'the invisible bubble of magnetic fields and electrically charged particles that surrounds and protects the planet from the periodically lethal radiation of the solar wind,' was discovered in 1958. Until now, it was composed of five regions, including the ionosphere or the Van Allen radiation belts. Now, a U.S. research team has discovered a sixth region, called the warm plasma cloak. Read more for additional details and references."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "U.S. astronomers and engineers have built a new camera to precisely measure the size of planets moving around distant stars. This camera has been dubbed OPTIC — short for 'Orthogonal Parallel Transfer Imaging Camera.' According to the research team, it is 'so sensitive that it could detect the passage of a moth in front of a lit window from a distance of 1,000 miles.' I'm not sure if this analogy is right, but the team said it was able to precisely define the size of a planet called WASP-10b which is orbiting around the star WASP-10, about 300 light-years from Earth. Read more for additional details and references."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "According to a Stanford University researcher, 'wind, water and sun beat biofuels, nuclear and coal for clean energy.' The scientist 'has conducted the first quantitative, scientific evaluation of the proposed, major, energy-related solutions by assessing not only their potential for delivering energy for electricity and vehicles, but also their impacts on global warming, human health, energy security, water supply, space requirements, wildlife, water pollution, reliability and sustainability.' Wow! The researcher found that some sources of energy were 25 to 1,000 times more polluting than the best available options. Some of his conclusions make sense, some are controversial, but read more for additional details and references not included in the Stanford document."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "University of Delaware (UD) scientists and engineers are currently working at South Pole under very harsh conditions. This research team is one of the many other ones working on the construction of IceCube, the world's largest neutrino telescope in the Antarctic ice, far beneath the continent's snow-covered surface. When it is completed in 2011, the telescope array will occupy a cubic kilometer of Antarctica. One of the lead researchers said that 'IceCube will provide new information about some of the most violent and far-away astrophysical events in the cosmos.' The UD team has even opened a blog to cover this expedition. It will be opened up to December 22, 2008. I guess they want to be back in Delaware for Christmas, but read more for additional details and references, including a diagram of this telescope array built inside ice."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "My monthly award for the best news release title goes to Brown University. It says that two of its researchers have discovered a difference in skin tone associated with gender. 'They determined that men tend to have more reddish skin and greenish skin is more common for women.' And don't think it's just another exotic research project. According to the research team, this 'information has a number of potential industry or consumer applications in areas such as facial recognition technology, advertising, and studies of how and why women apply makeup.' Interesting, but read more for additional details and references."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "According to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), specialty crops (fruits, vegetables, horticulture and floriculture) constitute a $45 billion/year industry in the U.S. alone, of which the tree fruit and nursery industries have a farm gate value of $20 billion/year. But because the fruit are hand-picked for the most part, labor costs are exploding and represent 58% of the net value of the farm economy. So two teams of researchers at CMU are developing automated farming robotic systems to help apple and orange growers. The groups are using $10 million in grants ($6 million for apples and $4 million for oranges) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s new Specialty Crop Research Initiative. But read more for additional details and a picture of a prototype of a robot vehicle for apple growers which is currently tested in orchards."
Roland Piquepaille writes: "An international team of researchers has filmed an immune cell becoming infected by a parasite. And it was able to chase it as the infection begins to spread throughout the body. Here is a quote from the lead scientist: 'Using multi-photon microscopy, we studied dendritic cells in the skin. Under normal conditions we found the cells in the epidermis (top layer) were static, whereas in the dermis (second layer) they were very active, moving around as though seeking out pathogens. Once we established this, it was fascinating to introduce the Leishmania infection and watch as the parasite was picked up by the cells and the process by which it began to spread throughout the body.' But read more for additional references and a picture showing the migratory mechanisms of dermal and epidermal dendritic cells."