A team of electrical engineers and fabrics scientists has invented a hat that tells its wearer when it’s safe to cross the road. The researchers’ proof-of-concept beanie is knitted with germanium fibers that can sense changing traffic lights—and tell pedestrians with visual impairments when they’re clear to walk.
Estimating time of death is crucial in a murder investigation, and the process usually involves considering the complex interplay of an array of biological and environmental variables. Now, new research suggests a set of 20 microorganisms could help investigators pinpoint when someone died.
When astronauts land on Mars, a couple of decades from now, perhaps, they’ll need to find a way to communicate — with each other, with equipment on and around the planet, and with mission control back on Earth. Despite living so far from home, they’ll no doubt want to connect with loved ones, keep their playlists up-to-date or stream the latest episodes of their favorite shows. But setting up a Wi-Fi connection to Earth’s internet won’t be an option. Earth is simply too far away.
Leo Gross is a physicist who has devoted his career to studying the fundamental secrets of chemistry—that is, how atoms and molecules behave and interact with one another. As leader of IBM’s atom and molecule manipulation group, in Zurich, Gross says his tools of choice are the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and atomic force microscope (AFM).
From artificial heart valves to cellular transplants, new treatments for cardiovascular ailments are being developed every day. To model how they work, researchers need a reliable way to observe the heart in action. So to tinker with the heart, scientists have now developed a beating, biorobotic replica that can simulate the workings of both a healthy organ and a diseased one.
Like many late-diagnosed adults, finding out that I’m autistic was a relief. Suddenly, somehow, everything in my life made sense. Overnight, I had a name for that out-of-place feeling I’d had since I was a child. Finally, I belonged somewhere.
But it also meant that everything changed, including my self-perception and the way I engaged with things I enjoyed. No surprises, therefore, that when it came to traveling—something that my partner and I regularly did pre-pandemic—I was apprehensive. H...
Electronic sensors that use piezoresistance—that is, a change in the electric resistance of a material due to mechanical activity—are common in many devices, including cars, medical wearables, and smartphones. Now, researchers in Australia have developed a tiny version of a piezoresistor, as small as a single molecule, that could enable an entirely new host of applications.
Science fiction has inspired plenty of today’s technologies. But one that many of us would really like access to remains elusive: teleportation. It’s what the folks in Star Trek do, for instance, as they routinely beam themselves to and from distant sites. The process appears to break down people’s bodies into their constituent atoms, then stream them to some destination where they reassemble perfectly.
The funerary practices of the ancient Egyptians can still reveal surprising information. In a recent analysis of the 3,500-year-old remains of the noblewoman Senetnay, found in jars in the Valley of the Kings, researchers found a mixture of ingredients that appear more complex than the era’s common embalming fluids. The complexity of the embalming fluid suggests that the Egyptians might have had connections with distant lands much earlier than previously thought.
Massive benefits of AI come with environmental and human costs. Can AI itself be part of the solution?
The recent explosion of generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT and Dall-E enabled anyone with internet access to harness AI’s power for enhanced productivity, creativity, and problem-solving. With their ever-improving capabilities and expanding user base, these tools proved useful across disciplines, from the creative to the scientific.
But beneath the technological wonders of human-like conversation and creative expression lies a dirty secret—an alarming environmental and human cost.
Last December, when scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) achieved a net energy gain—or ignition—in a fusion reactor, you could practically hear champagne being uncorked. The NIF’s discovery was certainly a “necessary first step,” but the eventual possibility of mass-produced fusion still remains far, far away. All the more reason, then, to celebrate a small but necessary first step for another form of inertial fusion.
Asphalt is used for millions of kilometers of roads globally, as well as sidewalks, roofs, parking lots, and other outdoor areas. It’s used for waterproofing and soundproofing, and in construction and manufacturing. On top of that, it’s cheap, easy to repair, and 100% recyclable. But if you’ve ever smelled fresh asphalt on a newly laid road and imagined your life being shortened by a couple of days, that may not be too far from the truth.
On June 25, four NASA recruits set off for to Mars — on Earth. They embarked on the first of three year-long missions to prep Earthlings for life as extraterrestrials. But these missions are terrestrial. This summer, the first crew of four volunteers entered a unique structure called Mars Dune Alpha. It’s located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
As a journalist trained in the 1990s, automated transcription was—pardon the cliché—a game-changer. After losing days (weeks, months?) of my life to manual transcribing and battling with sub-par speech-to-text apps, I discovered the web-based service Otter.ai in 2018.
The much-hyped image-generating AIs such as Stable Diffusion and DALL-E can whip up original artwork with astonishing speed in response to natural-language text prompts. This is fantastic news for non-artists who want to create images. It’s not such good news for illustrators, artists, and photographers: Not only do the AIs threaten their livelihood, but the image-generating algorithms may have been “trained” by consuming the exact creative work that they now purport to replace.