Sci-Tech

  • Underwear sensors to monitor soldiers' health

    Biomedical health sensors may soon be embedded in soldiers’ underpants; researchers find that printing sensors directly on the elastic waist of underwear offered the necessary tight direct contact with the skin, allowing for continuous monitoring of soldiers’ vital signs

  • Troubled bridges: remote monitoring of bridges' health nears

    As with people, bridges start getting sick long before they develop obvious symptoms; researchers develop remote-sensing technologies for monitoring the health of bridges; with on-site inspections occurring only once every two years, remote monitoring a bridge’s condition is the best way to assure the health of bridges

  • Duke University team develops nuclear terrorism detection tool

    If terrorists detonate a nuclear bomb or a dirty bomb in a city, first responders rushing to the scene would have to sort out the thousands of victims exposed to the harmful effects of radiation to see who needs more immediate attention and who can wait; current tests for radiation poisoning take a number of days to complete, which is too slow; Duke University researchers develop a device which uses genomic technology to capture molecular snapshots of genes or patterns of genes that are “turned on” or “turned off” in the body’s response to radiation; this allows emergency crews to determine the severity of radiation poisoning in under 30 minutes

  • Market for first responders, law enforcement robotics to see robust growth

    Market for first responders and law enforcement robotics reached $203.1 million in 2009; it is anticipated to reach $3.7 billion by 2016; market growth will come as border patrols and law enforcement agencies use robots to achieve broader security in a less expensive manner

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  • UC Berkeley researchers develop a robot that folds towels

    Researchers build a robot that can reliably fold towels it has never “seen”; the solution addresses a key issue in the development of robotics: many important problems in applying robotics and computer vision to real-life missions involve deformable objects, and the challenges posed by robotic towel-folding reflect important challenges inherent in robotic perception and manipulation for deformable objects

  • Protecting structures by tracking down rust

    Damage to concrete bridges caused by rust can have fatal consequences, at worst leading to a total collapse; now, researchers have developed an early-warning system for rust; sensor-transponders integrated in the concrete allow the extent of corrosion to be measured

  • Detecting structural defects with wind and water

    Bridges, aircraft, and wind turbines are in constant movement; natural forces and pedestrians all create vibrations; previously, time-consuming tests were needed to determine how building components would react to vibrations; now, researchers have developed a simpler method

  • DARPA director urges universities to create and “elite army of futuristic technogeeks”

    Between 2001 and 2008, DARPA’s funding to research schools was cut in half; less funding meant fewer graduate students: Combined with a 43 percent decrease in computing and science enrollment among undergrads, this means a shortage in technologists in the making; DARPA chief wants this trend reversed

  • 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

  • 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