Sci-Tech

  • WikiLeaks reveals relentless Chinese drive for scientific hegemony

    Among the documents released by WikiLeaks are cables from the science office in the U.S. embassy in Beijing; the cables — some based on Chinese informers — reveal an aggressive, government-funded R&D effort by the Chinese government; among the items of interest: gait biometric device which will be placed under floors and sidewalk to identify people, covertly, by the way they walk; efforts to hack quantum cryptography; and a plan to build 70 nuclear-fusion reactors in 10 years

  • New strategy for UAVs: emulate the soaring approach of peregrine falcons

    UAVs could fly for longer using less power if they copied the counter-intuitive flying patterns of peregrine falcons, say researchers; falcons, instead of spiraling in one direction to stay with a single thermal, constantly change the direction of their spirals

  • U.S. Air Force creates powerful supercomputer out of PS3s

    The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has connected 1,760 PlayStation 3 systems together to create the fastest interactive computer in the entire Defense Department; the Condor Cluster, as the group of systems is known, is capable of performing 500 trillion floating point operations per second (500 TFLOPS)

  • Underground "physical Internet" to distribute food, goods

    A start-up proposes automatically routed canisters to replace lorries for the purpose of delivering food and other goods in all weather with massive energy savings; the proposal envisions putting goods in metal capsules 2-meter long, which are shifted through underground polyethylene tubes at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, directed by linear induction motors and routed by intelligent software to their destinations

  • New life form -- thriving on arsenic -- found on Earth

    Life as we know it requires particular chemical elements and excludes others—- But are those the only options? How different could life be?” — asks Arizona State University professor Ariel Anbar; researchers find that the toxic element arsenic can replace the essential nutrient phosphorus in biomolecules of a naturally occurring bacterium; the finding expands the scope of the search for life beyond Earth

  • Color-changing "blast badge" detects exposure to explosive shock waves

    Researchers develop a color-changing patch that could be worn on soldiers’ helmets and uniforms to indicate the strength of exposure to blasts from explosives in the field; blast-induced traumatic brain injury is the “signature wound” of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; with no objective information of relative blast exposure, soldiers with brain injury may not receive appropriate medical care and are at risk of being returned to the battlefield too soon

  • view counter
  • U.S.: China rise a "Sputnik moment" for clean energy

    Energy Secretary Steven Chu likened a series of Chinese milestones — including the development of the world’s fastest supercomputer — to the Soviet Union’s landmark 1957 satellite that led the United States into the Space Race; the United States still concentrated on research in areas such as computers, defense, and pharmaceuticals but that its funding for energy innovation was paltry

  • FedEx loses -- then finds -- radioactive rods

    The shipment of radioactive rods sent from Fargo, North Dakota, to Knoxville, Tennessee, posed little threat, but its misplacement underscores the need to track low-hazard materials that could be used in small-scale terrorist attacks, experts say; as al Qaeda has shifted its tactics from 9/11-scale attacks to smaller attacks which aim to create fear and do economic damage, there is growing concern about low-radiation materials which are widely used in research, medical facilities, and industry; such materials may not be suitable for a nuclear bomb, but could be used to create “dirty bombs,” which cause fewer casualties but can release hazardous materials when they explode

  • Nature's desalination: bacteria turn salty water fresh

    The growing global shortage of water has led to a growing interest in desalination to produce fresh water from seas and estuaries; conventional desalination plants, however, consume large amounts of energy; the solution: a bug-powered desalination cell that takes salt out of seawater

  • Royal Society paints unsettling picture of a world 4 °C warmer

    If present warming trends continue, the world could warm by 4 °C by 2060; a new, detailed study by the U.K. Royal Society would make global water shortages acute; most of sub-Saharan Africa will see shorter growing seasons, with average maize production will drop 19 percent and bean production by 47 percent compared with current levels; the extreme weather, sea-level rise, and water shortages will drive many people to migrate

  • Police radar can identify suicide bombers

    The radar guns police use to spot speeding motorists fire microwave pulses at a car and measures the Doppler shift of the reflected signal to calculate its velocity; researchers found that the strength and polarization of the reflected signal — the “radar cross section” — can also measure the reflected signal created by the most common arrangements of looped wiring typically used by suicide bombers

  • Game-changing rifle arrives in Afghanistan

    A new smart rifle can be programmed so that its 25-mm. ammunition does not explode on impact; instead, it can be set to detonate either in front of or behind a target, meaning it literally will go through a wall before it explodes and kills the enemy; the Army says that enemy soldier can run, but they can no longer hide

  • American Military University: meeting the needs of the security community

    AMU promises a learning community of like-minded adult professionals with established careers in law enforcement, emergency services, national security, and intelligence; the current student body of 70,000 students worldwide is divided between 60 percent military and 40 percent non-military; in terms of program satisfaction, 98 percent of the 3,631 students surveyed between January 2010 and September 2010 reported that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience at AMU

  • DARPA looking for a game interface to end all interfaces

    A soldier in the field has his or her hands and voice fully taken up managing their weapons, sensors, and communications; DARPA wants to help: the Pentagon’s push-the-envelope research unit asks for idea on how to develop an interface which would allow soldiers to run, leap, or otherwise navigate about virtually without needing to do so physically

  • Rare Earth elements in U.S. not so rare: report

    Approximately 13 million metric tons of rare Earth elements exist within known deposits in the United States, according to the first-ever nationwide estimate of these elements by the U.S. Geological Survey; despite their name, these elements are relatively common within the Earth’s crust, but because of their geochemical properties, they are not often found in economically exploitable concentrations