So here's the deal - a research team headed up by Washington State chemistry professor Choong-Shik Yoo has come up with a battery design capable of condensing energy like nobody's business.
We won't pretend we fully understand what the flip is going on, but in a nutshell, the battery consists of material called xenon difluoride (XeF2), which is a white crystal mostly used to etch silicon conductors. The material is placed into two diamond anvils, where it's then pressurized. And therein lies the key - in normal circumstances, molecules in XeF2 don't come close to each other. But as they're squeezed together -- the pressure from the anvils is roughly equivalent to what you'd find halfway to the center of the Earth -- the molecules go on to form 3D metallic "network structures," pushing the mechanical energy of the compression process to be stored as chemical energy within the molecular bonds.
Yeah, we don't really follow it either, but according to Choong-Shik Yoo, this "is the most condensed form of energy storage outside of nuclear energy." Now that we can wrap our craniums around.
Where this all leads remains to be seen, but it could see use in superconductors, super-oxidizing materials, and other super applications. Sounds super to us.
Did your car really need new muffler bearings and was it actually low on blinker fluid, or did your mechanic take you for a ride? You may never know (we do - he took you for a ride). To help put your mind at ease (and maybe to get back at its staff for joining a union), Audi is test driving a new program called Audi Cam.
The way it works is when you drop off your Audi for repair, you end up tethered to your mechanic with a two-way radio and headset video camera. You're then whisked away to the waiting room, where you can watch your mechanic's every move and, for better or worse, communicate with him as he works, and vice versa.
Snarkiness aside, we can see where this would be useful, both for the mechanic and the customer. We can also see where it would be incredibly annoying, at least for the repair guy. Either way, Audi Cam so far is only available in Europe.
Origami is one of those things where it seems you either have a knack for it or you don't. If you don't, all the practice in the world won't help turn your crumpled creations into works of art, but maybe one day your PC will be able to lend a helping hand.
If so, you can thank Robert Wood of Harvard University and Daniella Rus and Eric Demaine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The trio have developed a material that's able to fold on its own. It's a square sheet of glass fiber 4cm wide and patterned with 32 triangular tiles, the seams of which are made from flexible silicon rubber and a "shape memory" alloy foil, New Scientist reports.
To make it all work, each foil was folded in two and held in a vice and then heated to 420C for 30 minutes. This allowed the foil to retain a memory of its fold when opened back up and allowed to cool.
After this was done, the research team fired up origami simulator software to calculate the sequence of folds required to put together two basic objects, one being a paper airplane and the other a boat. A current was then sent through the foils heating them above their "transition" temperature of 70C and forcing them to fold.
A team of researchers from down under have come up with what they claim is the most efficient quantum memory for light in the world. The team, located at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering in Australia, developed a technique that allows them to stop and control light from a laser, making it possible to manipulate electrons in a crystal that's been cooled to -200C.
"Light entering the crystal is slowed all the way to a stop, where it remains until we let it go again," explains lead researcher Morgan Hedges. "When we do let it go, we get out essentially everything that went in as a three-dimensional hologram, accurate right down to the last photon.
"Because of the inherent uncertainty in quantum mechanics, some of the information in this light will be lost the moment it is measured, making it a read-once hologram. Quantum mechanics guarantees this information can only be read once, making it perfect for secure communication."
According to the research team, the same efficient and accurate qualities places their memory as a front runner for quantum computing, long considered the holy grail of computers. Light storage could also make it possible to test fundamental physics, the team says.
Apple may boast a greater market cap than its sworn enemy now, but not a lot has actually changed: Microsoft still is the top dog in the world computer market and the Mac seems comfortably entrenched in the perennial-runner-up-to-the-PC role.
Apple's vastly improved market capitalization and the investor confidence it reflects can be attributed to its dominance in the PMP and phone segments. What started out as a MP3 player has blossomed into a device and software ecosystem that currently spans three segments and knows no parallel.
Steve Jobs avowedly learnt a valuable lesson in 1997: “We have to let go of a few notions here. We have to let go of the notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft needs to lose.” Those words appear to have acquired a prophetic aura.
We are eagerly anticipating a future of neural implants that can form brain-computer links, but one British scientist is out to bring us down. Mark Gasson has become the first human be infected with a computer virus. This feat was accomplished with small RFID chip Gasson had implanted in his hand. In the experiment, the virus infected chip was able to pass the infection to other devices, thus propigating much like biological viral vectors.
This proof on concept is of concern as a future of implantable devices is coming on fast. Various medical devices could be infected with viruses that then spread to other people. The idea is scary to be sure. People put up with computer viruses and security holes, but what can we do if the threat has the ability to cause real harm? Before you know it, we'll be reviewing Norton 360 Bio-Implant Edition.
So will you one of the cyborgs of the future, or is the whole idea too creepy?
Australian researchers have opened the door to smaller, faster computers by creating a seven-atom transistor measuring just four billionths of a meter. It was made by swapping seven atoms of a silicon crystal for phosphorous atoms and is the first step in the research team's larger goal, which is to build a solid-state quantum computer.
"Australia's first computer was commissioned in 1949," lead researcher Michelle Simmons told the BBC."It took up an entire room and you could hold its components in your hands.
"Today you can carry a computer around in your hand and many of its components are more than 1000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
"Now we have just demonstrated the world's first electronic device in silicon systematically created on the scale of individual atoms."
The research team's breakthrough could eventually shrink the size of microchips by up to 100 times, while at the same time resulting in "exponentially" faster processor speeds.
Perhaps in the not too distant future, you'll be able to coax a few more minutes of talk time from your smartphone by jogging around the block. That's because researchers at the University of Georgia Institute of Technology have come up with a way of generating enough energy to power portable devices by walking or running.
What they've done is develop tiny nanowries constructed of zinc oxide. These wires can generate an electric field through force or motion, converting mechanical energy into electrical energy.
"Any physical action that bends the substrate creates energy," said Zhong Lin Wang, professor and director of the Center for Nanostructure Characterization at Georgia Institute of Technology. Wang went on to explain that the electricity output depends on the number of nanowires and how strong the materials are.
There haven't been any field tests yet, but within two to three years, the researchers think they'll have substrates ready small and stable enough to integrate into low-power devices like Bluetooth transmitters. And what about those smartphones and other similar sized portable devices? We're looking at five years down the road, Wang said.
We fully grasp that, as a human race, we're intelligent enough to devise a way for cow pies to be used to power a data center, but what we really want to know is how anyone in HP's ranks kept a straight face while discussing the "manure output of cows." Not only did HP talk about this internally, but the company went and drew up an entire game plan, and who knows, that smell seeping in through your car windows as you drive down the interstate might be coming for a new data center.
"The idea of using animal waste to generate energy has been around for centuries, with manure being used every day in remote villages to generate heat for cooking. The new idea that we are presenting in this research is to create a symbiotic relationship between farms and the IT ecosystem that can benefit the farm, the data center and the environment," said Tom Christian, principal research scientist, Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab, HP.
According to HP, 10,000 dairy cows produce enough waste to power a 1 megawatt (MW) data center, which is the equivalent of a medium-sized data center, and still have power left over to support other needs on the farm. And get this - the heat generated by the data center can be used to increase the efficiency of the anaerobic digestion of animal waste. Yep, warm manure is just what the IT industry needs.
On very much a related note, did you know that the average dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of manure each day, and about 20 metric tons per year? That's enough to generate 3 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electrical energy.
We're not sure whether to laugh, cry, or sign up for an Old Glory insurance plan, but apparently it's now possible to be legally wed by a robot, at least in Tokyo.
The couple in question are both connected with Japan's robotics industry, and now they're legally connected to each other, all thanks to an automated preacher known as I-Fairy.
According to BBC News, I-Fairy, with its flashing eyes and plastic pigtails, instructed the groom to lift the bride's veil for the customary kiss after the two tied the knot. C-3PO was no where be found, nor was Robby, Cylon, or any of these other notable robots.