Sci-Tech

  • Intel to invest up to $8 billion on U.S. manufacturing

    Intel will invest $8 billion to build a new factory in Oregon and upgrade four existing plants in Arizona and Oregon; Intel’s new investment will support its transition to 22-nanometer manufacturing technology. Intel’s last major investment was a $7 billion outlay announced in February 2009

  • Maneuverable bullet to enhance sniper accuracy

    Snipers have to contend with disruptions such as changing winds, muzzle velocity dispersions, and round-to-round variations; Teledyne, with funding from DARPA, offers a solution in the form of the first-ever guided small-caliber .50 bullet

  • New way to sniff out shoe bombs

    Triacetone triperoxide (TATP) is a high-powered explosive that in recent years has been used in several bombing attempts. TATP is easy to prepare from readily available components and has been difficult to detect. It defies most standard methods of chemical sensing: It does not fluoresce, absorb ultraviolet light, or readily ionize; University of Illinois researchers offers a solution that overcomes these problems

  • Revolutionary forensic fingerprinting technique also detects corrosion

    Two years ago, Dr. John Bond at the University of Leicester developed a revolutionary method for identifying fingerprints on brass bullet casings, even after they have been wiped clean; now, Bond has applied the same technique to industry by developing a simple, handheld device which can measure corrosion on machine parts

  • Drought may threaten much of globe within decades

    A new study, based on twenty-two computer climate models and a comprehensive index of drought conditions, as well as analyses of previously published studies, finds that most of the Western Hemisphere, along with large parts of Eurasia, Africa, and Australia, will be at risk of extreme drought this century; in contrast, higher-latitude regions from Alaska to Scandinavia are likely to become more moist

  • Robots compete in self-destruction

    One Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics states that a robot must protect its own existence; a competition was held last weekend which aimed to subvert that law: participants were challenged to build a robot that attempts a simple, menial task but fumbles it or fails, before destroying itself

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  • Spray DNA lowers crime

    Several business establishment in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam have been using a new tool to fight robberies: spray DNA; the McDonald’s branch near city hall, for example, has a small orange box near the exit, which, when triggered by an employee (the protocol for secretly activating the system: removing a 10 Euro bill from a special bill clip kept behind the counter), both sprays the culprit with odorless, invisible synthetic DNA and alerts the local police; the company making the spray DNA also makes crayon DNA which companies can use to mark computers and other valuable office equipment

  • China to cut rare Earths minerals export by 30 percent

    China controls more than 95 percent of the global market for rare Earth elements; China has cut rare earths exports by five to 10 percent a year since 2006; China Daily reported yesterday that the government would again cut rare earths export quotas by up to 30 percent next year, “to protect the metals from over-exploitation”; critics charge China’s real goal is to cripple important industrial segments of Western economies

  • Spray-on skin to be commercialized

    Sheffield, U.K.-based Altrika set to produce a spray version of its Cryoskin donor skin cell product that can be applied in hospitals outside of a sterile surgical environment in order to reduce treatment time; the spray would be stored in individual doses so the right number of skin cells can be selected once the wound is assessed; the cells would then be thawed as the patient is being prepared

  • High performance materials for the tunnel of the century

    On 15 October Swiss engineers finished their work on the Gotthard Tunnel — longest rail tunnel in the world; the 57-km (35.4-mile) high-speed rail link, which will open in 2017, will form the lynchpin of a new rail network between northern and southeastern Europe and help ease congestion and pollution in the Swiss Alps

  • App developed to find crooks

    University of Nebraska researchers are developing an app for iPhone and Droid which will allow police to locate sex offenders, parolees, known gang members, and people with arrest warrants; the Nebraska team is planning to combine police GIS and GPS data into a program that would instantly create maps tailored to officers’ specific locations

  • End to limits on carrying liquids on board in sight

    New bottled liquid scanners unveiled; researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory developed a magnetic resonance device to read liquids’ molecular makeup, even when the substances are in metal containers; the device is so sensitive it can tell the difference between red and white wine, and between different types of soda; satisfactory test result may spell the end of limitations on carrying liquids on board

  • NOAA: Global temperature ties for warmest on record

    The first nine months of 2010 tied with the same period in 1998 for the warmest combined land and ocean surface temperature on record (the records go back to 1880); this value is 1.17 F (0.65 C) above the twentieth century average; Los Angeles set a new all-time maximum temperature on 27 September when temperatures soared to 113 F;

  • Geologists warn of warming-induced landslides flattening cities

    There are 39 cities around the world with populations greater than 100,000 — and an untold number of smaller towns and villages — which are situated within 100 kilometers of a volcano that has collapsed in the past and which may, therefore, be capable of collapsing in the future; thinning glaciers on volcanoes could destabilize vast chunks of summit cones, triggering mega-landslides capable of flattening cities such as Seattle and devastating local infrastructure

  • Unease grows about China's rare Earth elements monopoly

    Rare Earth elements are quite abundant in the Earth’s crust, but environmental concerns and aggressive subsidies by China’s government to Chinese manufacturers have led to a Chinese near-monopoly: 90 percent of the world’s rare Earth elements are now being mined and processed in China; growing unease with this Chinese dominance has led to renewed efforts around the world to develop alternatives to rare Earth elements, and find environmentally sound ways to mine them