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Low-Energy Neutrinos Detected In Real Time 73

Roland Piquepaille sends us word of first results from the Borexino detector in Italy, where an international team of more than 100 researchers has detected low-energy solar neutrinos for the first time. These results confirm recent "theories about the nature of neutrinos and the inner workings of the sun and other stars." In particular, it's now almost certain that neutrinos oscillate among three types, namely electron, muon, and tau neutrinos. The Borexino detector lies almost a mile underground near L'Aquila, Italy, and it sets new standards in the purity of the materials used in its construction.

NASA's Future Inflatable Lunar Base 203

Roland Piquepaille writes "If you think that future NASA's moon camps need to have a science fiction look, you might be disappointed. Today, NASA is testing small inflatable structures. In fact, if these expandable 'tents' receive positive reviews, astronauts will 'camp' on the moon as early as 2020. These 12-foot (3.65 meter) diameter inflatable units could be used as building blocks for a future lunar base. Right now, a prototype is tested at NASA's Langley Research Center. But NASA also wants to test other inflatable structures in the not-too-friendly environment of the Antarctic next year. Still, it's too early to know if NASA's first habitable lunar base will use inflatable or rigid structures."

Storing Wind Power In Cold Stores 242

Roland Piquepaille writes "According to Nature, a European-funded project has been launched to store electricity created from wind in refrigerated warehouses used to store food. As the production of wind energy is variable every day, it cannot easily be accommodated on the electrical grid. So the 'Night Wind' project wants to store wind energy produced at night in refrigerated warehouses and to release this energy during daytime peak hours. The first tests will be done in the Netherlands this year. And as the cold stores exist already, practically no extra cost should be incurred to store as much as 50,000 megawatt-hours of energy. Here are additional details and a picture illustrating this brilliant idea."

Wireless Sensors To Monitor Power Grids 72

Roland Piquepaille writes "Major power outages like the ones which affected the New York state last month or Western Europe ten days ago are becoming more frequent — even if their causes were different. In some cases, the utility companies have to dispatch electricians all over the place to discover the cause of the power failure or simply to restore power. Engineers at the University of Buffalo think they have a better solution: deploy wireless 'nanotech' sensors to monitor the networks and to find the exact location of a failure. They also say that even if the technology is almost available, several years of research are necessary before such a solution can be used by electrical companies. Read more for additional details about this attractive solution."

The Nanopowers of Spinach 53

Roland Piquepaille writes "Ohio University physicists have used a simple molecule of chlorophyll taken from spinach to develop a complex nanobiological switch. They used a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to image chlorophyll-a and then injected it with a single electron to manipulate the molecule into four positions. The researchers say this biological switch might be used in future applications for green energy, technology and medicine. Read more for additional pictures and references about this spinach-based biological switch."

Morphine Relief Without Addiction? 308

Roland Piquepaille writes "Morphine has been used as a painkiller for decades, if not centuries. Unfortunately for patients, morphine is also an addictive substance. Now, Brigham Young University (BYU) chemists are using a vine plant that grows in Australia to develop a new painkilling molecule, but with fewer side effects. The Deseret Morning News reports that the BYU chemists hope to ease pain with hasubanonine, the synthetic compound they created and which has a similar molecular structure as morphine. Still, more tests need to be done before this natural drug can replace morphine."

Another Robotic Vehicle to Help Soldiers 154

Roland Piquepaille writes "There are many teams of U.S. scientists working on robots able to find improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq before they can kill American soldiers. Today, let's look at an effort going on at Florida State University (FSU) to build unmanned ground vehicles that could save soldiers' lives. The researchers are creating complex algorithms to control these robots who will have to integrate many different factors such as the type of ground surface or obstacles that might block the vehicle's path. Some of these robots, which also could be used for civilian missions, are currently being tested at FSU. Read more for additional references and pictures of these robots which will have to navigate among dense obstacles."

3D Face Imaging in 40 Milliseconds 170

Roland Piquepaille writes "Computer scientists at Sheffield Hallam University, UK, have developed a new face recognition software which can produce an exact 3D image of a face within 40 milliseconds. A pattern of light is projected on your face, creating a 2D image, from which an accurate 3D representation is generated. This technology should speed airport check-ins, but it could also be used in banks or for checking ID cards as it allows full identification in less than one second."

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