Sci-Tech

  • Robot assembles itself, then flies

    Soldiers and first responders often find themselves in situations of surveillance or search and rescue, in which they may have to figure out on the fly what size and shape surveillance or search-and-rescue robot they need; Swiss researchers develop a flying platform made up of autonomous wheeled vehicle that lock together to share the task of controlled and autonomous flight; this self-sufficient wheeled DFA has another advantage: if one of the parts of which it consists breaks, the robot can reconfigure itself or substitute in a different part

  • Autonomous vehicles to map battle environments

    War is always accompanied by the fog of war; to pierce that fog, researchers at Cranfield University are working on developing swarms of autonomous military vehicles capable of sharing and overlapping video images to create high-resolution 3D panoramic scenes of dangerous battlefield areas

  • BP's cost-cutting approach made well vulnerable, left company unprepared

    Safety upgrades are critical but could mean higher prices for oil and gas; to cut costs, BP decided to install a continuous set of threaded casing pipes from the wellhead down to the bottom of its well; this leaves one blind to leaks that sneak up around the casing pipe, and the long string gives gas more time to percolate into the well; a preferred — and costlier — alternative in high-pressure deepwater is a “liner” design in which drillers install and then cement in place a short string of casing in the lower reaches of the well before casing the rest of the well

  • DOE puts raw oil spill data on new Web page

    A new Department of Energy Web page provides numbers on how much oil is being recovered, and schematics of the technology involved in trying the cap the well and the Gulf clean-up

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  • Uncle Sam wants 10,000 new cybersecurity professionals

    The United States needs tens of thousands of cybersecurity practitioners, researchers, and — more recently — warriors; U.S. Cyber Challenge launches a nation-wide talent search; this summer, cybersecurity camps will be conducted in three states — California, New York, and Delaware; the goal is thirty-five camps in thirty-two states for next year

  • Next-generation HazMat boots made of leather

    The rubber boots that emergency personnel wear when responding to situations where hazardous materials (HazMat) are present may be functional, but they are not very comfortable; with the availability of new textile materials and surface treatments, researchers are confident they can develop a comfortable — and functional — leather boot for use in both fire-fighting and HazMat operations

  • The consequences of new surveillance technology

    Many wish for better security in public places, and support installation of new video surveillance technologies to achieve this goal; these surveillance technologies, however, have important psychological and legal implications, and four German universities cooperate in studying these implications

  • BP's oil spill depleting oxygen in Gulf, decimating Gulf's abundant sea life

    The magnitude of the BP oil spill disaster becomes clearer; scientists confirm the massive oil spill spread more than forty nautical miles from the disaster site and at a depth of 3,300 feet; scientists have said that in addition to being nearly impossible to clean up, the oil plumes could deplete oxygen in the Gulf, decimating its abundant sea life

  • Plastic lasers shed light on hidden explosives

    Detecting hidden explosives is a difficult task but now researchers in the United Kingdom have developed a new way of detecting them, with a laser sensor capable of detecting molecules of explosives at concentrations of 10 parts per billion (ppb) or less

  • Attention to design details will make buildings withstand hurricanes

    One example of design ideas architects in hurricane-prone regions should follow: design buildings with square, hexagonal, or even octagonal floor plans with roofs of multiple slopes such as a four-sloped hip roof; these roofs perform better under wind forces than the gable roofs with two slopes; gable roofs are common only because they are cheaper to build; research and testing demonstrate that a 30-degree roof slope will have the best results

  • Top biometrics students invited to contend for industry awards

    The European Biometrics Forum holds its annual competition for budding biometric enthusiasts; the award aims to encourage on-going essential research in biometrics

  • Green decontaminants to breaking down chemical weapons

    New products developed non-toxically to decontaminate nerve gas, mustard gas, radioactive isotopes, and anthrax. The formulas are based on ingredients found in foods, cosmetics, and other consumer products

  • New method manipulates particles for sensors, crime scene testing

    Researchers develop a new tool for medical diagnostics, testing food and water for contamination, and crime-scene forensics; the technique uses a combination of light and electric fields to position droplets and tiny particles, such as bacteria, viruses, and DNA, which are contained inside the drops

  • Purdue University membrane technology could help cleanup oil spills

    Purdue University researchers developed a new type of membrane which may be used to clean up oil spills such as BP’s massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico; the technology could be used for a variety of other applications, including water purification and industrial uses

  • U.S. military to adopt NFL's instant replay technology

    U.S. Air Force drones collected roughly 1,800 hours of video a month in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009, nearly three times as much video than in 2007; sifting through this growing mountain of information is difficult, so the military wants to use the same instant replay technology used in professional football games; after all, U.S. broadcasters handle 70,000 hours daily of video