Jul 07, 2015

Sculptures that change shape when wet, return to original shape when dry

posted by Larra Morris

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Designer Chao Chen has been developing and working with a material that has an unusual type of shape memory. It changes shape when wet, and goes back to the original shape when dry.

The only thing cooler than that is the actual application of the material.
via Yanko Design

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Image: Chao Chen

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Jul 07, 2015

Gene-modded mosquitoes will fight Dengue Fever in Brazil

posted by Larra Morris

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The Brazilian city of Piracicaba has a potent new weapon in the ongoing fight against Dengue Fever, which infects more than a million people annually: genetically modified mosquito lotharios Created by Oxitec of Abingdon, UK and bred locally within Brazil, these GM mosquitoes (all of which are male) are designed to crash the local population before they can spread the tropical disease. More than six million have been released throughout Piracicaba since April. When a GM male mates with a wild female, his sapper genetics cause the resulting larvae to die before they can reach adulthood. What's more, the larvae also carry a genetic mutation that causes them to glow red under UV light, giving researchers an easy way to identify them on sight. "It gives an instant readout of how successfully you're driving down the native population," Hadyn Parry, chief executive of Oxitec, told New Scientist.
via Engadet

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Image: Arnulfo Franco/Associated Press

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Jul 07, 2015

The key to awesome future robots could be seahorse tails

posted by Larra Morris

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The key to better, tougher and more coordinated robots as well as improved surgical procedures, among other advances, could derive their inspiration from an unlikely source – the odd, square tail of the all-around strange seahorse.

While most animal tails are cylindrical in cross-section, the seahorse has a unique, squared tail that not only provides the fish with a tough armor, but also gives it a strong grasp to hold on to things like plants or coral and "fish" for food that floats by its mouth. A paper in the most recent issue of the journal Science lays out some of the virtues of the appendage, which provides potential insight into engineering and robotics applications given its combination of strength and flexibility.
via Gizmag

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Image: Oregon State University

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Jul 06, 2015

3D-printed 'dough' helps fix your fractured bones

posted by Larra Morris

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One day, you might not have to spend ages waiting for broken bones to heal. Researchers have developed a 3D-printed, dough-like biomaterial that could fill large bone fractures while aiding the recovery process. The porous chemical blend can withstand the same abuse as the spongy parts of your longer bones while still letting cells and proteins through -- it even could release its own proteins to speed up your treatment.

The paste has yet to reach clinical trials, so don't count on getting it if you break your leg in the near future. However, it's relatively easy to make (you can produce it at room temperature) and shouldn't be inordinately expensive.
via Engadget

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Image: IOP Publishing

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Jul 06, 2015

"Nemo's Garden" grows terrestrial crops underwater

posted by Larra Morris

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The stand for the region of Liguria at the Milan 2015 Expo features a project as bizarre-sounding as it is intriguing: an attempt to grow crops underwater, inside air-filled biospheres. It's part of an effort that could prove a low-cost, low-energy solution to grow food in parts of the world where this was not previously possible...

As bizarre as this solution may sound, there is method to this madness. A few feet below the surface, plenty of sunlight still filters in, the temperature is kept at a stable 25° C (77 °F) by the sea, and the crops are well out of the reach of parasites.

The evaporating sea water condenses on the inner walls of the biosphere, creating a high-humidity environment (up to 85 percent) that favors crop growth. All in all, according to its proponents, the system is sustainable and requires very little energy.
via Gizmag

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Image: Nemo's Garden


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Jul 03, 2015

Solar Impulse plane lands in Hawaii

posted by Larra Morris

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Solar Impulse, the aeroplane that is powered only by the sun, has landed in Hawaii after making a historic 7,200km flight across the Pacific from Japan.

Pilot Andre Borschberg brought the vehicle gently down on to the runway of Kalaeloa Airport at 05:55 local time (15:55 GMT; 16:55 BST).

The distance covered and the time spent in the air - 118 hours - are records for manned, solar-powered flight.

The duration is also an absolute record for a solo, un-refuelled journey.
via BBC 

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Jul 03, 2015

Amazon could be building a phone that unlocks with your ear

posted by Larra Morris

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Forget TouchID. The next smartphone security code could come from your ear. Amazon has patented an ear recognition technology that can identify a user based just on ear shape, as seen through a phone’s front-facing camera. 

The device, according to the patent, could “determine whether the user is holding the device near the user's right ear or left ear, and adjusts functionality of the device based at least in part upon how the user is likely holding the phone” when making a phone call or listening to an audio file. That means the technology could adjust the volume based on your position. 
via Mental Floss

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Image:U.S. Patent and Trademark Office 

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