Zothecula writes: Given that scientists are already looking to sea sponges as an inspiration for body armor, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that foam is also being considered... not just any foam, though. Unlike regular foam, specially-designed nanofoams could someday not only be used in body armor, but also to protect buildings from explosions.
Zothecula writes: Graphene could soon be facing some competition for the unofficial title of “World’s Most Useful New Substance.” Led by Associate Professor Darren Sun, a team of scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have spent the past five years developing a material known as Multi-use Titanium Dioxide. Their research indicates that it can be used to produce hydrogen and clean water from wastewater, double the lifespan of batteries, create antibacterial wound dressings... and more.
Zothecula writes: Chances are that if you were heading into battle, you wouldn’t wish that you were covered in sponges. It turns out that the sea sponge, however, has a unique structure that allows it to be flexible while remaining relatively impervious to predators. Scientists have now simulated this structure, in a lab-created material that may someday find use in body armor.
Zothecula writes: Most of us are able to let other people know that we’re stressed, simply by telling them. For people such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s, however, it can be difficult to express such a thought. That’s why UK scientists at Loughborough University and Imperial College London are developing a new test that can determine someone’s stress levels by analyzing their breath.
Zothecula writes: Joseph Bahlman, a graduate student at Brown University, with the help of Professors Kenneth Breuer and Sharon Swartz, has developed a robotic bat wing that mimics the ligaments, skin and structural supports of the real thing. The purpose of the motorized plastic wing is to gain a better understanding of how bats are engineered and fly.
Zothecula writes: It took some time, but the age of the cyborg is upon us. For the first time, neuromuscular electrodes that enable a prosthetic arm and hand to be controlled by thought have been permanently implanted into the nerves and muscles of an amputee. The operation was carried out recently by a surgical team led by Dr Rickard Brånemark at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden.
Zothecula writes: What’s that mouse thinking about? Scientists at California’s Stanford University can now tell you – to a limited extent. They recently had success in imaging the neural activity of mice, in real time. While the ability to “read a mouse’s mind” may not fire many peoples’ imaginations, the technology could prove very useful in researching diseases like Alzheimer's.
Zothecula writes: How many times have you been shivering on a winter day, and wished that you were capable of simply not feeling the cold? Well, that’s just what scientists at the University of Southern California have done to a group of lab mice – they disabled the animals’ ability to sense cold, while leaving their ability to sense heat and touch intact. It is hoped that the research could lead to more effective pain medications for humans.
Zothecula writes: In some peoples’ opinion, electric cars won’t become truly viable until their batteries offer a lot more driving range, and can be recharged much more quickly than is currently possible. Well, those people may soon be getting their wish. Scientists at the University of Southern California have developed a new type of lithium-ion battery, that they claim holds three times as much energy as a conventional li-ion, and can be recharged in just ten minutes.
Zothecula writes: In the future, we may have autonomous robots that follow scents to track down gas leaks, rescue disaster victims trapped in debris, or perform other duties. While the algorithms that drive such robots could perhaps just be made up from scratch, scientists from the University of Tokyo are instead looking to the insect world for inspiration. To that end, they recently created a two-wheeled robot that was successfully driven by female-seeking male silkmoths.
Zothecula writes: Carbon capture and sequestration in underground reservoirs isn’t the most practical or cost effective way to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. It would be much simpler if CO2 could be quickly and cheaply converted into a harmless, solid mineral before it is released into the atmosphere. A team from the U.K.’s Newcastle University may have stumbled across a way to achieve this thanks to the humble sea urchin.
Zothecula writes: Whether it’s in hospitals, restaurant kitchens or our homes, harmful bacteria such as E.coli are a constant concern. Making matters worse is the fact that such bacteria are increasingly developing a resistance to antibiotics. This has led to a number of research projects, which have utilized things such as blue light, cold plasma and ozone to kill germs. One of the latest non-antibiotic bacteria-slayers is a hydrogel developed by IBM Research and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore.
Zothecula writes: Taking a two-month-old in for vaccination shots and watching them get stuck with six needles in rapid succession can be painful for child and parent alike. If the work of an MIT team of researchers pans out, those needles may be thing of the past thanks to a new dissolvable polymer film that allows the vaccination needle to be replaced with a patch. This development will not only make vaccinations less harrowing, but also allow for developing and delivering vaccines for diseases too dangerous for conventional techniques.
Zothecula writes: From The Skylark of Space to Star Wars, no self-respecting science fiction spaceship would break orbit without a tractor beam on board. We’re still a long way from locking on to errant shuttlecraft, but a team led by Dr. Tomas Cizmar, Research Fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, has turned a laser into a tractor beam that works on the microscopic level.
Zothecula writes: Despite its numerous wondrous properties, a propensity to stick together and be difficult to flatten out once crumpled can make working with graphene difficult and limit its applications. Engineers at Duke University have now found that by attaching graphene to a stretchy polymer film, they are able to crumple and then unfold the material, resulting in a properties that lend it to a broader range of applications, including artificial muscles.