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General science advances thread

ScienceRocks

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This thread is for the stuff that isn't part of the others.
Excluding
Medical
3-d printers
Robotics
Advances in comptuers
ect



Tractor beam built from rings of laser light
18:05 19 October 2012 by Jacob Aron
Tractor beam built from rings of laser light - physics-math - 19 October 2012 - New Scientist


Stand aside, Wesley Crusher: there's a new tractor beam on deck that pulls objects using nothing more than laser light. The device has already grabbed NASA's attention as it could one day prove useful on space missions.

It is well known that light can push on objects – this is the basis for using solar sails to propel a spacecraft. But getting light to pull on something is a bit trickier.

Previous laser-based tractor beams could act like tweezers to move particles, picking up the sample and putting it down a short distance away. A more recent version actually pulls on particles, but relies on temperature variations in the beam, which means it cannot function in space.

In 2011, researchers in China calculated that a type of laser called a Bessel beam, which puts out light in concentric rings, could be designed to make a particle inside the beam emit photons on the side facing away from the beam source. These photons should allow the particle to recoil towards the source. But nobody has so far managed to put the idea into practice.

David Ruffner and David Grier of New York University instead projected two Bessel beams side by side and used a lens to angle them so that they overlapped, creating a pattern of alternating bright and dark regions. Fine-tuning the beam caused photons in the bright regions to scatter toward the beam source, pushing a particle in the beam to the next bright region. The beam thus acts like a conveyor belt, constantly drawing the particle toward the source.
 
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Boeing Successfully Tests Microwave Missile That Takes Out Electronic Targets
CBS St. Louis ^ | October 25, 2012 | NA

Boeing Successfully Tests Microwave Missile That Takes Out Electronic Targets « CBS St. Louis

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (CBS St. Louis) — Boeing successfully tests a new missile that can take out electronic targets with little collateral damage.

The aerospace company tested the microwave missile last week on a two-story building on the Utah Test and Training Range where computers and electronic systems were turned on to gauge the effects of the missile’s radio waves, according to a Boeing press release.

The missile, known as CHAMP (Counter-electronics High-powered Advanced Missile Project), fired a burst of High Powered Microwaves at the building, successfully knocking out the electronic systems and computers, and even taking out the television cameras recording the test...
 
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World’s first commercial vertical farm opens in Singapore

George Dvorsky

World's first commercial vertical farm opens in Singapore

The prospect of growing crops in vertical farms directly inside of cities has been on the collective wish-list of environmentalists, sustainable developers, and futurists for quite some time now. And now it looks like it's finally starting to happen. Land-strapped Singapore has opened its first vertical farm — an innovation that will increase the variety of foods it has available and decrease its dependance on foreign imports.

And indeed, a major problem facing Singapore (and many other cities) today is land scarcity. Located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, it is an island country that consists of a mere 710 square kilometers (271 square miles) — and most of it is developed and urbanized. Today, only 7% of Singapore's vegetables are grown locally. But by virtue of the new facility, it's looking to change the situation.

Developed by Sky Greens Farms, the vertical farm consists of 120 aluminum towers that extend over 9 meters (30 feet) in height. In total, the vertical farm is able to produce vegetables at a rate of 0.5 tonnes per day. The company is hoping to attract investors so that it can devote another USD$21M dollars for upgrades. Ideally, they'd like to construct as many as 300 towers — enough to produce two tonnes of vegetables per day.

Currently, the farm is able to grow three kinds of vegetables, and they can only be found at the local FairPrice Finest supermarkets, but at a price that's 10 to 20 cents more than vegetables from other sources. But according to Channel News Asia, customers are enthusiastic about the new products and the supermarkets are struggling to keep the vegetables in stock. Moreover, Sky Greens expects the price to drop as the farm ramps up supply.
 
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Navy Will Get Lasers in 2 Years, Admiral Says


Navy Will Get Lasers in 2 Years, Admiral Says | Office of Naval Research | LiveScience

Laser weapons capable of burning small boats or sending drones plunging from the sky as flaming wrecks could find a home aboard U.S. Navy ships in the next two years, an admiral says.

That prediction came from Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of the Office of Naval Research, during an interview with Wired's Danger Room. The Navy has already worked with defense companies to test lasers for destroying both boats and aircraft, and has even looked at pairing lasers up with more traditional machine guns for ship defense.


Now this is cool!
 
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Key test for re-healable concreteBy Paul Rincon

BBC News - Key test for re-healable concrete

Experimental concrete that patches up cracks by itself is to undergo outdoor testing.

The concrete contains limestone-producing bacteria, which are activated by corrosive rainwater working its way into the structure.

The new material could potentially increase the service life of the concrete - with considerable cost savings as a result.

The work is taking place at Delft Technical University, the Netherlands.

It is the brainchild of microbiologist Henk Jonkers and concrete technologist Eric Schlangen.

If all goes well, Dr Jonkers says they could start the process of commercialising the system in 2-3 years.

Concrete is the world's most widely used building material. But it is prone to cracks, which means that structures need to be substantially reinforced with steel.

"Micro-cracks" are an expected part of the hardening process and do not directly cause strength loss. Fractures with a width of about 0.2mm are allowed under norms used by the concrete industry.

But over time, water - along with aggressive chemicals in it - gets into these cracks and corrodes the concrete.


Longer life

"For durability reasons - in order to improve the service life of the construction - it is important to get these micro-cracks healed," Dr Jonkers told BBC News.

Bacterial spores and the nutrients they will need to feed on are added as granules into the concrete mix. But water is the missing ingredient required for the microbes to grow.

Concrete is the world's most popular building material, but cracking is a problem
So the spores remain dormant until rainwater works its way into the cracks and activates them. The harmless bacteria - belonging to the Bacillus genus - then feed on the nutrients to produce limestone.

The bacterial food incorporated into the healing agent is calcium lactate - a component of milk. The microbes used in the granules are able to tolerate the highly alkaline environment of the concrete.
 
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Researchers create new microparticles that self-assemble like atoms into molecules

Researchers create new microparticles that self-assemble like atoms into molecules
diameter of a human hair, that spontaneously assemble themselves into structures resembling molecules made from atoms.

Scientists have created new kinds of particles, 1/100th the diameter of a human hair, that spontaneously assemble themselves into structures resembling molecules made from atoms. These new particles come together, or "self-assemble," to form structures in patterns that were previously impossible to make and hold promise for manufacturing advanced optical materials and ceramics.

The method, described in the latest issue of the journal Nature, was developed by a team of chemists, chemical engineers, and physicists at New York University (NYU), the Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, the Harvard Department of Physics, and Dow Chemical Company. The method is centered on enhancing the architecture of colloids—small particles suspended within a fluid medium. Colloidal dispersions are composed of such everyday items as paint, milk, gelatin, glass, and porcelain, but their potential to create new materials remains largely untapped.


"What this means is we can make particles that attach only at the patches, and then we can program them so only specific kinds of particles attach at those patches," said coauthor and NYU physics professor David Pine. "This gives us tremendous flexibility to design 3-dimensional structures." The researchers added that the specificity of DNA interactions between patches means that colloids with different properties, such as size, color, chemical functionality, or electrical conductivity, could lead to the production of new materials. These potentially include 3-dimensional electrically wired networks or photonic crystals to enhance the optical displays of a range of consumer products and to improve the speed of computer chips.

Read more at: Researchers create new microparticles that self-assemble like atoms into molecules
 
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Researchers create laser the size of a virus particle

Miniature laser operates at room temperature and defies the diffraction limit of light

A Northwestern University research team has found a way to manufacture single laser devices that are the size of a virus particle and that operate at room temperature. These plasmonic nanolasers could be readily integrated into silicon-based photonic devices, all-optical circuits and nanoscale biosensors.

Reducing the size of photonic and electronic elements is critical for ultra-fast data processing and ultra-dense information storage. The miniaturization of a key, workhorse instrument -- the laser -- is no exception.

The results are published in the journal Nano Letters.

"Coherent light sources at the nanometer scale are important not only for exploring phenomena in small dimensions but also for realizing optical devices with sizes that can beat the diffraction limit of light," said Teri Odom, a nanotechnology expert who led the research.

Odom is the Board of Lady Managers of the Columbian Exposition Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of materials science and engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

"The reason we can fabricate nano-lasers with sizes smaller than that allowed by diffraction is because we made the lasing cavity out of metal nanoparticle dimers -- structures with a 3-D 'bowtie' shape," Odom said.

These metal nanostructures support localized surface plasmons -- collective oscillations of electrons -- that have no fundamental size limits when it comes to confining light.

The use of the bowtie geometry has two significant benefits over previous work on plasmon lasers: (1) the bowtie structure provides a well-defined, electromagnetic hot spot in a nano-sized volume because of an antenna effect, and (2) the individual structure has only minimal metal "losses" because of its discrete geometry.

"Surprisingly, we also found that when arranged in an array, the 3-D bowtie resonators could emit light at specific angles according to the lattice parameters," Odom said.


###

The Nano Letters paper, titled "Plasmonic Bowtie Nanolaser Arrays," is available at Plasmonic Bowtie Nanolaser Arrays - Nano Letters (ACS Publications).
Researchers create laser the size of a virus particle
 
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High-strength material advancements may lead to new, life-saving steel
November 5, 2012

There has been great advancements in the development of the high-strength steel and the need for additional enhancements continue to grow. Various industries have a need for structural components that are lighter and stronger, improve energy efficiencies, reduce emissions and pollution increase safety and cost less to produce, particularly in the automotive industry.

A group of researchers in Wayne State University's College of Engineering have been working to create advanced materials with high-yield strength, fracture toughness and ductility. Their efforts have led to the development of a new material consisting of bainitic steels and austempered ductile iron that has all these characteristics, ultimately resisting fatigue that can cause fractures in materials often with catastrophic consequences.

The group, led by Susil Putatunda, Ph.D., professor of chemical engineering and materials science in WSU's College of Engineering, has focused on developing novel materials using unique processing technique. These materials are processed from existing raw materials used in the steel industry and can be heat treated using currently available industrial austempering process. According to Putatunda, this third generation advanced high strength steel has a number of advantages over the currently available steels currently being used in industry today.

"Our steel has twice the yield strength, has a very high tensile strength, and is close to three times the fracture toughness over advanced steels currently on the market," said Putatunda. "In addition, it has improved strength for fatigue and impact, improved durability, lower weight, and the austempering process reduces energy consumption and eliminates the post-treatment process."
High-strength material advancements may lead to new, life-saving steel
 
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Let's hear it for bainitic steels and austempered ductile iron.

:thup:

99 pallets of bainitic steels and austempered ductile iron on the wall,
99 pallets of bainitic steels and austempered ductile iron...

Take one down, pass it around,
98 pallets of bainitic steels and austempered ductile iron on the wall.
 
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Heres another one!
Hypergravity helping aircraft fly further

Hypergravity helping aircraft fly further
November 6, 2012

Aircraft turbine in flight. ESA research has helped to develop an aircraft-grade alloy that is twice as light as conventional nickel superalloys while offering equally good properties. Credit: Creative Commons–A. Rueda

(Phys.org)—ESA research has helped to develop an aircraft-grade alloy that is twice as light as conventional nickel superalloys while offering equally good properties. The path to creating this alloy required research under all types of gravity.

Airlines are always looking for ways to save fuel by cutting down on weight without sacrificing safety. Generally, cutting weight by 1% will save up to 1.5% in fuel.

For commercial airlines, this saving quickly adds up, offering cheaper flights and fewer stopovers while reducing the overall impact on the environment.

For years, engineers have known that titanium aluminide alloys offer great weight benefits over the nickel superalloys used today in conventional jet engines.


Since the newer alloy can withstand extreme temperatures up to 800°C, it is of particular interest to engine manufacturers.

Although it is possible to make the alloy in a laboratory, casting it in the shapes required by industry, such as a turbine blade, is not simple.

ESA scientists working in the Impress project looked into the problem. To understand natural processes, scientists often remove as many external variables as possible, concentrating their observations on core interactions.

Switching off gravity

Aluminium samples were heated in a small furnace carried in a sounding rocket launched from Kiruna, Sweden. During six minutes of free fall, they were heated to over 700°C and then monitored by X-rays as they cooled.

Looking at the results, the researchers realised that casting titanium aluminides might require looking in the opposite direction: hypergravity.

ESA is the only organisation that offers all levels of gravity, so the Impress team turned to the agency's centrifuge in the ESTEC research and technology centre, the Netherlands to test their theory.

Casting the metals in a centrifuge creating up to 20 times normal gravity helps the liquid metals to fill every part of a mould, producing a perfectly cast alloy, even with complex shapes.

Analysing metal casting in as many ways as possible produced building blocks of knowledge that allowed the industrial process to be refined and commercialised.

Over a million jet turbine blades will be made over the next eight years, and using titanium aluminide would reduce their weight by 45% over traditional components.

The alloy's benefits are also of interest to the car industry – before long, cars will run on engines using space-based knowledge.
 
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Batteries not required, just plug into ear cells
16:55 08 November 2012 by Will Ferguson

Batteries not required, just plug into ear cells - health - 08 November 2012 - New Scientist

For the first time, an electrical device has been powered by the ear alone.

The team behind the technology used a natural electrochemical gradient in cells within the inner ear of a guinea pig to power a wireless transmitter for up to five hours.

The technique could one day provide an autonomous power source for brain and cochlear implants, says Tina Stankovic, an auditory neuroscientist at Harvard University Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

Nerve cells use the movement of positively charged sodium ions and negatively charged potassium ions across a membrane to create an electrochemical gradient that drives neural signals. Some cells in the cochlear have the same kind of gradient, which is used to convert the mechanical force of the vibrating eardrum into electrical signals that the brain can understand.
 

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99 groups of natural electrochemical gradient in cells on the wall

99 groups of natural electrochemical gradient in cells...

Take one down, pass it around,

98 groups of natural electrochemical gradient in cells on the wall
 
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Four African Teens Create Pee-Powered Energy Generator


Article | November 9, 2012 - 8:56pm Comment0


Quote:
Four African teens have wowed visitors to Maker Faire Africa by creating a generator that is powered with pee. Using a resource that everyone has, the girls developed a generator that produces six hour of power for one liter of urine. At only 14 and 15 years old, the students are an inspiration for renewable energy developers everywhere!
Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin and Bello Eniola aren’t even college grads — the young inventors barely in their teens! Growing up in a region with little natural resources, the girls were inspired to take on the challenge of creating an alternative energy system that could be further developed to solve energy solutions in their community.

http://www.zeitnews.org/applied-scie...ergy-generator

Doesn't surprise me that they'd do something like this.
 
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Entanglement Makes Quantum Batteries Almost Perfect, Say Theorists

Entanglement Makes Quantum Batteries Almost Perfect, Say Theorists | ZeitNews



In recent years, physicists have amused themselves by calculating the properties of quantum machines, such as engines and refrigerators.

The essential question is how well these devices work when they exploit the rules of quantum mechanics rather than classical mechanics. The answers have given physicists important new insights into the link between quantum mechanics and thermodynamics.

The dream is that they may one day build such devices or exploit those already used by nature.

Today, Robert Alicki, at the University of Gdansk in Poland, and Mark Fannes, at the University of Leuven in Belgium, turn their attention to quantum batteries. They ask how much work can be extracted from a quantum system where energy is stored temporarily.

Such a system might be an atom or a molecule, for example. And the answer has an interesting twist.
 
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Coimbatore students design model for flying car
Arun P Mathew, TNN | Nov 7, 2012, 06.17AM IST


Coimbatore students design model for flying car - The Times of India

COIMBATORE: Most people will go out of their way to avoid rush hour traffic. The lucky ones can adjust their schedules to work around peak traffic hours, while the rest of us take to the road reluctantly, wishing and hoping our car or bike could fly. The good news is that we may be closer to operating a flying car than we think, thanks to three students of a prominent city college who have designed a car that can fly at the press of a switch.

Godfrey Derek Sams, Kamali Gurunathan and Prasanth Selvan, aeronautical engineering students at Kumaraguru College of Technology have been selected by the Planetary Scientific Research Centre to present their design for a flying car at the International Conference on Aerospace, Automotive and Mechanical Engineering that will be held on December 8 and 9 at Pattaya in Thailand. The flying car is a concept that has existed from the time of the Wright Brothers. Although many have attempted to design a flying car, no one has been successful so far. However, the selected students are optimistic that their design is a workable solution.
 
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Flexible and transparent supercapacitor: For energy-storage devices, thin is in (w/ Video)
November 12, 2012 by Angela Herring

(Phys.org)—Cell phones as thin and flexible as a sheet of paper. Energy-storing house paint. Roll-up touch screen displays. These are the sorts of devices that the engineering industry is preparing for and expecting. But if any of them is to work, said Northeastern University mechanical and industrial engineering professor Yung Joon Jung, experts also need to create a thin and flexible energy-storage system. His lab has developed such a system.

The supercapacitor, which has not yet been optimized, is able to store energy and provide power at levels comparable to other devices. The difference, however, is its ability to be incorporated into thin film devices. "If we give up transparency and mechanical flexibility," Jung said, "we can easily go to that level of commercially available devices. But my goal is not to lose these two qualities and simultaneously develop high-performance energy devices."

The research team has already used a flexible and transparent prototype to power a light. The group plans to make continued improvements in power generation and energy storage.

Flex*ible and trans*parent super*ca*pac*itor: For energy-storage devices, thin is in (w/ Video)
 
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Team demonstrates new hybrid nanomaterial for power generation
November 12, 2012

A University of Texas at Arlington physics professor has helped create a hybrid nanomaterial that can be used to convert light and thermal energy into electrical current, surpassing earlier methods that used either light or thermal energy, but not both.
Working with Louisiana Tech University assistant professor Long Que, UT Arlington associate physics professor Wei Chen and graduate students Santana Bala Lakshmanan and Chang Yang synthesized a combination of copper sulfide nanoparticles and single-walled carbon nanotubes.

The team used the nanomaterial to build a prototype thermoelectric generator that they hope can eventually produce milliwatts of power. Paired with microchips, the technology could be used in devices such as self-powering sensors, low-power electronic devices and implantable biomedical micro-devices, Chen said.

"If we can convert both light and heat to electricity, the potential is huge for energy production," Chen said. "By increasing the number of the micro-devices on a chip, this technology might offer a new and efficient platform to complement or even replace current solar cell technology."
Team demonstrates new hybrid nanomaterial for power generation
 

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