Archive for Science

Wave energy converters to go live in California

Posted in Green,News,Science by Darrin Olson on December 18th, 2007

Wave energy converter buoy to be put to use to produce electricity in CaliforniaSome California residents might be receiving electricity from a more novel, environmentally friendly and source in the coming years. PG&E has announced that it is going to team up with Finavera Renewables to build a “wave farm” off the coast of California in order to generate electricity.

The wave farm consists of “wave energy converters”, or basically large buoys like Finavera’s Aquabuoy pictured here. As the buoy moves up and down on top of the waves that pass by it drives a piston which is anchored on the ocean floor. The piston creates pressure which drives a turbine and in turn creates electricity. A single full-scale Aquabuoy can generate 250 killowatts which can power approximately 80 homes. The initial plan is to create a farm of these buoys that will generate 2 megawatts of electricity by 2012, and if things go well they will ramp up the farm to produce 100 megawatts.

Cloned cat glows red

Posted in News,Science by Chetz on December 13th, 2007

Kittens cloned with modified skin colorThis next story should give you pause to think about what may be ahead in the near future for the emerging biotechnology sector. A science team at South Korea’s Gyeongsang National University announced that they have successfully cloned kittens that have a modified gene that alters their skin color. When placed underneath an ultraviolet light a unmodified cat will look green. These new genetically modified cats have a fluorescent protein inserted into their DNA which makes their skin appear red under the same kind of UV light.

Three cloned Turkish Angola kitties were born in early 2007 but one died shortly after. The two surviving cats now weigh 3.5 kilograms and appear to be perfectly healthy representatives of the feline race. Aside from being able to make funky colored critters the new procedure is hoped to be used for bringing back the populations of animals on the endangered species list as well as identifying and eliminating genetic diseases in people and pets.

Make a rainbow indoors this Christmas

Posted in Home,Science,Toys by Conner Flynn on November 2nd, 2007

The Discovery Rainbow In My Room.The Discovery Rainbow In My Room makes a great gift if you want to steer your kid toward Science and away from say, Halo. Though I doubt most boys would appreciate this. It fits in more in a room filled with My Little Pony’s.

LED lights recreate the colors of a real rainbow and the motion-activated sensor turns the unit off with a wave of your hand.

Samsung cellphone powered by water

Posted in Samsung,Science by Conner Flynn on October 12th, 2007

When the phone powers on, metal and water in the phone react and  produce hydrogen gas which powers the cellphone.Samsung has actually developed a water powered cellphone. A micro fuel cell and hydrogen generator make it possible. They will be capable of powering all kinds of small electronics, in this case cellphones, for 10 hours on nothing but old fashioned H2O.

When the phone powers on, metal and water in the phone react and produce hydrogen gas. They envision beginning with hydrogen cartridges that would have to be changed roughly every four days, if you use the phone for four hours a day. After that, their plan is to improve on the design until all you need to do is squirt some water in your phone and you are ready.

Nobel prize for physics awarded to small drive technology

Posted in Magnets,News,Science by Darrin Olson on October 10th, 2007

Nobel prize in physics awarded to Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg for Giant Magnetoresistance which helped make smaller hard drivesThe 2007 Nobel Prize for physics was awarded joinlty to French physicist Albert Fert (pictured left) and German physicist Peter Grünberg for their work in magnetoelectronics, also known as spintronics. The two each made independent discoveries of magnetoresistance back in the 80′s, which uses the spin of electrons to store and transport information instead of using an electrical charge. This discover allows more data to be stored in a smaller physical space and in under a couple decades led to radically smaller hard drives for common items such as laptop computers, smartphones and iPods.

Computer Solves the Game of Checkers

Posted in News,Science by Chetz on July 20th, 2007

Computer Solves the Game of CheckersAfter 18 years spent playing the game and millions of matches won and lost, a computer has now solved the riddle of whether there can be a perfect game of checkers. Computer scientists working at the University of Alberta in Canada used a program called Chinook to factor out the 500 billion positions possible in any one game of checkers. The result was that it is possible to reach a draw against your opponent but it’s exceedingly rare to happen. Chinook was able to plot out every possible move and reach the determination but for flesh and blood players, thinking ahead 20 or 30 moves down the line is asking a little too much from the software in our heads.

The U of A researchers also said that checkers was by far the most complex game ever to be successfully worked out by …

Hawking to Experience Zero G’s Firsthand

Posted in News,Science by Reuben Drake on March 2nd, 2007

Stephen Hawking to experience weightlessness in zero gravity rideStephen Hawking is a name that by now we all know well. The Cambridge professor, best selling author and the world’s reigning expert on black holes is now set to take a zero-gravity ride out of Cape Canaveral. Since he has spent most of his life working around the nature of gravity, it seems only fit that he should experience it himself, first hand.

Said the executive of Zero G, “the idea of giving the world’s expert on gravity the opportunity to experience zero gravity” was irresistible. He will be accompanied by his own medical team to make sure that all is well with the genius.

Hawking, now 65, suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is unable to move any part of his body, save his eyes and a small part of his fingers. Though this particular disease usually kills …

Surgeons Who Play Video Games More Skilled

Posted in Games,News,Science by Paul Patterson on February 20th, 2007

Surgeons who Play Video Games more SkilledAre surgeons who regularly play video games better equipped to operate on you?

A study by an Iowa State University psychologist indicates that Surgeons who play video games more are skilled and less likely to make mistakes than their non-playing counterparts.

The study identifies a strong relationship between time spent playing video games and the surgeon’s capabilities performing laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is a surgical technique where operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions – normally less than 1.5 cm – as opposed to the larger incisions needed in traditional procedures.

“We found that laparoscopic surgeons who played video games were quicker and more accurate, and you typically don’t tend to see those two elements working together when it comes to surgery. So these were surprising results,” said Douglas Gentile, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State

Japanese Cellular Breakthrough Grows Teeth

Posted in News,Science by Paul Patterson on February 19th, 2007

Stem Cell Breakthrough Grows TeethScientists in Japan have discovered a method to grow teeth from single cells in lab dishes and transplant them into mice.

The method involves the use of primitive cells that are injected into a collagen mold. The cells were taken from the tooth germ – a mass of tissue that has the potential of developing into a tooth. The cells eventually mature into a structure that shares the qualities of teeth, including dentin, enamel, dental pulp, blood vessels, and periodontal ligaments. Once transplanted to a mouse, the teeth grew and developed normally.

This is a significant breakthrough in regenerative therapies and demonstrates the possibilities of developing bioengineered organs to replace organs failing from age, disease, or injury.

Stem Cell research is the source of great controversy and heated debate due to the techniques used to obtain and use them. With current technology, starting a stem …

Robotic Cameras Search for Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Posted in News,Robots,Science by Paul Patterson on February 18th, 2007

Robotic Cameras Search for Ivory-Billed WoodpeckerThe Ivory-billed Woodpecker has long been considered by bird-watching enthusiasts to be “The Holy Grail” of bird watching. The bird is an extremely rare member of the woodpecker family, and is officially listed as an endangered species and even considered extinct by many people.

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker made headlines back in 2004 when a kayaker in Arkansas reported seeing one. In 2005 a team led by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology also reported spotting the elusive bird. In September 2006, a team of ornithologists from Auburn University and the University of Windsor also published a paper detailing evidence for the existence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in northwest Florida. In 2006, a $10,000 reward was offered for any information that leads researchers to an Ivory-bill nest.

In order to get conclusive evidence that the Ivory-Billed is not extinct, scientists …

New Battery to last 10 times as long – available this year

Posted in News,Science by Chris Weber on January 23rd, 2007

EEstor close to manufacturing new battery with 10 times more powerA company named EEStor is claiming that it is close to commercially manufacturing a battery that will last 10 times longer than standard electrochemical batteries. If fact the company’s goal is to completely replace standard batteries anywhere they are currently found from cell phones to cars.

EEStor is claiming specifically that their new battery will store ten times more power and cost half as much as current lead-acid batteries. Lead-acid batteries are currently used in most automobiles. EEStor also claims it batteries will operate in conditions ranging from -4 below 0 to almost 150 degrees above zero. Not quite good enough for much of the northern United States in winter, but good enough for the southern parts of the country.

The company claims they have produced a battery capacitor hybrid that will …

Invisible Water – Sulfur Hexafluoride

Posted in Science by Darrin Olson on January 23rd, 2007

We had such a great response to our post about ferrofluid a few months back that I thought I would share this video showing the effects of a gas that is six times more dense than ambient air. In the video after the jump a light boat made out of tin foil floats on top of sulfur hexafluoride contained in an aquarium, and the gas is actually able to be “scooped” like water to fill the boat and make it sink.

My first thought was that the sulfur hexafluoride might be toxic, but according to Wikipedia the gas is colorless, odorless, non-toxic and non-flammable. The gas is actually dense enough to even float some light woods. To give you some reference; air is 784 times less dense than water compared to the 6 times of sulfur hexafluoride, and water is about 2.5 times less dense than dirt in case …

Robot Nurses Coming to a Hospital Near Your

Posted in Humor,News,Robots,Science by Chris Weber on January 23rd, 2007

european scientists developing robot nurses could be in hospitals in 2010European scientists think they may have an answer to the nurse shortage: build robot nurses to replace the puny hu-mon nurses. The robots would perform basic tasks and free up the real nurses to do the important stuff like look hot and give naughty boys shots in the bum or something like that.

Actually, the robots would be performing more of a janitorial function than actual nursing activities. The robots would clean up spills, deliver messages and guide visitors to their beds. Wouldn’t a Roomba, a telephone and some old people be a lot better at this and a lot cheaper? No wonder Europe is such an economic disaster. Their brilliant minds are busy re-inventing stuff Americans can buy on late night TV.

In all seriousness, it appears that …

A Railgun Cannon. What’s Next Star Destroyers?

Posted in News,Science by Chris Weber on January 20th, 2007

Navy test railgun - a railgun demonstrated in stargate atlantisHow many games have you played that featured a railgun as a weapon? I’m guessing just a few under a thousand. From Halo to Stargate to the movie Eraser, railguns are just as much a part of the sci-fi genre as bad acting and large-chested blue aliens. Now however, railguns are no longer science fiction. They are a reality for the US Navy.

The Navy demonstrated its new toy at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. The weapon uses electromagnetism to propel non-explosive projectiles to high speeds. The new weapon should increase the range of US Navy vessels as well as decrease the cost. The railgun is expected to replace the expensive Tomahawk missile saving the Navy a lot of money. Because of the speed of the projectile …

Is Your Cell Phone Giving You Cancer?

Posted in Mobile Phones,News,Science by Chris Weber on January 19th, 2007

do mobile phones cause cancer?Do cell phones cause cancer? That is what the British government wants to know. Some recent studies have raised questions about the safety of cell phones after ten years of use. Specifically, does using a cell phone for ten or more years lead to an increased chance of brain cancer?

Many studies have been conducted over the years, some with conflicting results but the latest consensus is that cell phones are generally safe for use in the short term. The effects of long term usage have yet to be studied. Some researchers feel that there is a critical need to study the long term effects and believe governments should be more concerned about the health of its citizens.

Professor Lawrie Challis is one such researcher. He is currently securing funding from the British Department of Health …