Sci-Tech

  • New technology enables machines to detect microscopic pathogens in water

    Detecting common pathogens in drinking water soon may no longer be bottle-necked under a laboratory microscope; Texas A&M researchers found a way to substitute humans with automatic image analysis systems

  • Students design innovative wastewater treatment process for removing pharmaceuticals

    More and more pharmaceuticals end up in countries’ water supply; four Canadian chemical engineering students have designed an advanced wastewater treatment system which would remove 90 percent of pharmaceuticals and endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) using commercially available technology

  • Five ways to make subway stations and cars safer

    Several new technologies and practices can make subways and mass-transit stations significantly safer; among the latest technologies: shields, vests, and blankets made from Demron, a fabric blend that blocks chemical, biological, and nuclear agents; the shields and vests would be used by first responders, while blankets would be thrown over radiation victims to keep them from irradiating others; another blanket — the Hi-Energy Nuclear Suppression Blanket — is designed to be placed over a dirty bomb about to go off; it traps chemical, biological, and nuclear agents and reduces by more than half the distance they can spread

  • Aircraft carrier like on-land mobile airport concept studied

    A study of the concept of creating mobile airports receives £2 million in private funding; the idea is for airplanes to take off and land on aircraft carrier-like runways traveling on the motorway; one of the most challenging aspects of this new concept is building catapults capable of launching a Boeing 767 in same way fighter jets are boosted off navy aircraft carriers

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  • Russia builds stealth navy

    Russia is turning part of its navy into a stealth navy; the project uses stealth technology to reduce the ship’s secondary radar field, as well as its acoustic, infrared, magnetic, and visual signatures; two corvettes have already been floated, and Russia plans to have up to thirty vessels of this class

  • Biochip technology reveals fingerprints of biochemical threats

    The biochip offers a chance to determine the signatures of biological agents that can be used for bioterrorism, most notably the bacterium that causes anthrax, Bacillus anthracis; while some scientists have used DNA analysis to identify particular strains of the anthrax bacterium, the biochips help scientists and government officials learn how anthrax bacteria are grown, narrowing the pool of potential suspects

  • Winners of the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contests

    Rube Goldberg machines combined simple household items into complex devices to perform trivial tasks; the machines combine the principles of physics and engineering, using common objects; the theme for the 2010 national Rube Goldberg contest: to build a machine which would dispense an appropriate amount of hand sanitizer in someone’s hand — and do so in at least twenty steps; a University of Texas team built a machine that dispenses the hand sanitizer in 46 steps

  • Cutting-edge laser technology for crime labs developed by FIU research team

    Determining the precise composition of a substance with LIBS can provide important evidence in legal proceedings. Trace elemental analysis for comparisons of glass, paint chips, soils, paper, ink on paper, and metal fragments has been shown to be highly effective; the instrumentation required for this kind of analysis in forensic comparisons, however, has been beyond the reach of many forensic laboratories; researchers at Florida International University offers a solution

  • Day of trained sniffing bees is here

    The bee’s discreet sense of smell, equivalent to a dog’s, is being exploited as a much cheaper way to detect various odors in the environment; a U.K. company is now training bees to sniff out explosives and land mines — but also to identify diseases and cancers in people and animals, detect rapidly spreading bacteria in food, and identify dry rot in buildings

  • New research points way to safer nuclear reactors

    Self-repairing materials within nuclear reactors may one day become a reality as a result of research by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists; when designing nuclear reactors or the materials that go into them, one of the key challenges is finding materials that can withstand an outrageously extreme environment; researchers find that nanocrystalline materials may offer an answer

  • Day nears for restarting Japan's fast-breeder reactor - the world's only such reactor

    Monju, the world’s only fast-breeder reactor, achieved criticality in April 1994; in December 1995 a coolant loop leaked more than 700 kilograms of molten sodium, releasing toxic fumes and damaging the plant; plant managers tried to cover up the accident, but covertly recorded videos were leaked to the press; there followed fourteen years of repairs and redesigns of safety measures and attempts to rebuild public trust by Monju’s operator

  • U.S. Navy interested in laser warfare

    A big attraction of the free-electron laser (FEL) is the ability to adjust its output wavelength to improve transmission through the thick, moist air at sea; other laser weapons emit at fixed wavelengths; also, the laser is electrically powered, so it can recharge quickly, potentially allowing for repeat bursts of fire

  • Aussie company creates the world's first electronic underpants

    More smart garments are coming to market; the latest addition: electronic underpants able to send text messages if the wearer became incontinent; this piece of clothing is aimed at the old and infirm, but clothes embedded with sensing and transmission devices will be of benefit to soldiers and first responders, measuring the wearer’s vital signs to alert medical teams in the event of injury

  • Synthesized polymer neutralizes both biological and chemical weapons

    Biological tissues to respond rapidly and appropriately to changing environments; this logic was applied by University of Pittsburgh researchers: they have synthesized a single, multifunctional polymer material that can decontaminate both biological and chemical toxins

  • Researchers say a global database is needed to identify victims of mass disasters

    Hundreds of thousands of people may die in natural disasters such as the Asian tsunami or the Haiti earthquake; many of the bodies of victims are never recovered because of collapsed buildings, mud slides, and more; but there are difficulties even with the recovered bodies: many of them cannot be identified and, often, entire families are killed, leaving no one behind to identify the remains; researchers say that forensic anthropology may be of help here