Science and technology have always been close bedfellows, however sometimes scientist’s dream up new technologies that completely and utterly change everything. A pair of engineers at Harvard have been doing just that, and amazingly, have found a way to store around 704TB of data in a single gram of DNA. I re-read the findings of George Church and Sri Kosuri several times, but it took a while to finally grasp the concept that the entire contents of my NAS could be stored on the surface area of my pinky finger.
Imagine if the windows in your home or automobile weren't just windows, but transparent solar panels collecting light energy and converting it into electricity? Such a concept could have a monumental impact on future hybrid cars, and could potentially shave your monthly electricity bill. If transparent solar cells existed, of course. Well guess what? Not only do they exist, but researchers at UCLA say they've developed a new kind of transparent solar cell that's better than anything out there.
Intel's doing a bang-up job and shrinking transistors and packing them in tighter than ever before, but let's face it: it's going to be hard to scale silicon down much further. That eventual wall is why engineers are pumped about the potential of graphene, a substance with more than 200 times the electron mobility of silicon. (Read: better potential performance.) Coaxing graphene transistors into switching off current to create the 1 and 0 signals we know and love has been tricky, however. Now Samsung says it's developed a solution that does just that, without limiting graphene's electron mobility.
As far as quantum computing breakthroughs go, this latest one by a team of researchers from the U.S., Australia and South Africa is truly special. According to the researchers, a tiny crystal comprising only 300 atoms developed by them has paved the way for a “huge leap” in computing. A leap so vast, these researchers claim, that it would take a supercomputer larger than the known universe to do the kind of calculations possible with their “quantum simulator,” a special type of quantum computer. Hit the jump for more.
Powerful quantum computing and instantaneous long-distance quantum communication (ala the Normandy's quantum entanglement communicator in Mass Effect) sound well and good, but in reality, that sort of technology will never blossom unless we figure out how to create working quantum networks first. Oh wait! We have. Yesterday, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany announced that they've created the first quantum link between two atoms located far away from one another physically.
New York Times writer Nick Bilton has had enough of the FAA’s vague explanations of why personal electronic devices aren’t allowed during certain parts of a flight. After frequently questioning the rationale for such rules, he recently commissioned his own tests on devices like the Kindle. The results seemed to support Bilton’s position that the FAA being a little disingenuous.
The adventures of Sherlock Holmes have been wowing us with his fierce intellect, uncanny forensic prowess and rampant drug abuse since 1887. In 1939, Batman hit the scene, filling the criminals of Gotham with dread thanks to his highly developed detective skills, an encyclopedic knowledge of multiple sciences, wicked gadgets and a deep grief-fuelled psychosis. Montgomery Scott —Scotty—the beloved Chief Engineer of the U.S.S Enterprise: Thanks to his knowledge of particle physics, warp theory and a lifetime’s worth of hands-on experience, he was able to pluck his crew mates from the clutches of a fiery death countless times. Sadly, he too had his faults: routinely lied to his superior officers about repair times and spent his off-hours soaking himself in scotch, whiskey and something green? Don’t we geeks deserve a better class of hero? If our heroes are flawed, can’t they at least be real people? We’d like to think so. There have been so many scientists, innovators and educators throughout history that deserve to be elevated higher than the fictional ideals we idolize and talk about on a daily basis. To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, we’ve put together a short list of eight real-life geek heroes who, while never doing battle with the Klingons, jumped from rooftop to rooftop or solved an crime that confounded Scotland Yard, still managed to make the lives of thousands—even millions of people in some cases—a little bit brighter.
So, how about that aircraft carrier-sized asteroid that buzzed the earth earlier this week--crazy right? Zipping through the cosmos at approximately 30,000 miles per hour and measuring roughly 1000 feet long, Asteroid 2005 YU55 definitely could have ruined a lot of people’s days if it’d passed 202,000 miles closer--a pittance of a distance by astronomical standards--to us than it did. Are there other space bound rocks out there hellbent on our planet’s destruction? You betcha. Do we know when or how likely it is for them to strike? Nope, but the vigilant space geeks over at Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking do, and their online presence is our Cool Site of the Week.
As of 2010, scientists have managed to find and catalog 1.7 million different species of life. Sounds like a lot, right? Not when you consider that the very same lab geeks feel it’s possible that there may still be another five million species out there that we haven’t stumbled across yet. Before depriving anymore of those lifeforms of their habitats for the sake of a new strip mall or a few rolls of toilet paper, maybe we’d do well to get to know them a little bit better (you know, just in case the planet finally decides to rise up and rebel against us). To this end, we’re declaring Encyclopedia of Life our Cool Site of the Week.
Gamers routinely save the world, though the goal isn't always as ambitious. Quests can be as simple as running errands, escorting a high profile figure from point A to point B, or hunting for specific ingredients. No matter how big or little the tasks, gamers get it done, and not just in the virtual world either. To wit, it took a group of gamers a mere three weeks to solve a puzzle in AIDS research that scientists have been working on for years.