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New tool makes a single picture worth a thousand—and more—images

August 14, 2014 | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Software developed by Univ. of California, Berkeley computer scientists seeks to tame the vast amount of visual data in the world by generating a single photo that can represent massive clusters of images. This tool can give users the photographic gist of a kid on Santa’s lap, housecats, or brides and grooms at their weddings. It works by generating an image that literally averages the key features of the other photos.

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R&D Daily

Scientists develop water splitter that runs on ordinary AAA battery

August 22, 2014 7:27 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. Videos Comments

In 2015, American consumers will finally be able to purchase fuel cell cars from Toyota and other manufacturers. Although touted as zero-emissions vehicles, most of the cars will run on hydrogen made from natural gas, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming. Now scientists at Stanford Univ. have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis.

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Water leads to chemical that gunks up biofuels production

August 21, 2014 7:53 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Videos Comments

Trying to understand the chemistry that turns plant material into the same energy-rich gasoline and diesel we put in our vehicles, researchers have discovered that water in the conversion process helps form an impurity which, in turn, slows down key chemical reactions. The study, which was reported online at the Journal of the American Chemical Society, can help improve processes that produce biofuels from plants.

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Bacterial nanowires not what scientists thought they were

August 19, 2014 8:28 am | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California Videos Comments

For the past 10 years, scientists have been fascinated by a type of “electric bacteria” that shoots out long tendrils like electric wires, using them to power themselves and transfer electricity to a variety of solid surfaces. A team led by scientists has now turned the study of these bacterial nanowires on its head, discovering that the key features in question are not pili as previously believed.

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Tattoo biobatteries produce power from sweat

August 13, 2014 12:45 pm Videos Comments

In the future, working up a sweat by exercising may not only be good for your health, but it could also power your small electronic devices. Researchers report that they have designed a sensor in the form of a temporary tattoo that can both monitor a person’s progress during exercise and produce power from their perspiration.

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Foam favorable for oil extraction

August 13, 2014 7:49 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. Videos Comments

A Rice Univ. laboratory has provided proof that foam may be the right stuff to maximize enhanced oil recovery (EOR). In tests, foam pumped into an experimental rig that mimicked the flow paths deep underground proved better at removing oil from formations with low permeability than common techniques involving water, gas, surfactants or combinations of the three.

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Researchers show that how fast you drive might reveal exactly where you are going

August 12, 2014 7:41 am Videos Comments

Rutgers Univ. researchers have shown that GPS technology is not needed to show where a driver traveled. A starting point and the driver's speed are enough when using a technique dubbed “elastic pathing”, which predicts pathways by seeing how speed patterns match street layouts. This could cause concerns for privacy, however, since many insurance companies offer discounts in return for customers allowing their driving habits to be monitored.

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Multiple UAVs perform autonomous formation flight

August 8, 2014 8:05 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology Videos Comments

These days, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) typically fly alone with a team of ground operators controlling their activities through teleoperation or waypoint-based routing.  But one aircraft can only carry so many sensors, limiting its capabilities. That’s one reason why a fleet of autonomous aircraft can be better than one flying alone.

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New material structures bend like microscopic hair

August 6, 2014 10:31 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office Videos Comments

MIT engineers have fabricated a new elastic material coated with microscopic, hairlike structures that tilt in response to a magnetic field. Depending on the field’s orientation, the microhairs can tilt to form a path through which fluid can flow; the material can even direct water upward, against gravity. Researchers say structures may be used in windows to wick away moisture.

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No-power Wi-Fi connectivity could fuel Internet of Things reality

August 6, 2014 8:11 am | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington Videos Comments

Imagine a world in which your wristwatch or other wearable device communicates directly with your online profiles, storing information about your daily activities where you can best access it—all without requiring batteries. Or, battery-free sensors embedded around your home could track minute-by-minute temperature changes and send that information to your thermostat to help conserve energy.

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Researchers boost insect aggression by altering brain metabolism

August 6, 2014 7:37 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Videos Comments

Scientists report they can crank up insect aggression simply by interfering with a basic metabolic pathway in the insect brain. Their study, of fruit flies and honey bees, shows a direct, causal link between brain metabolism and aggression. The new research follows up on previous work from the laboratory of Univ. of Illinois entomology professor and Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson, who also led the new analysis.

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Extracting audio from visual information

August 4, 2014 12:17 pm | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office Videos Comments

Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass.

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“Wetting” a battery’s appetite for renewable energy storage

August 4, 2014 9:22 am | by Frances White, PNNL Videos Comments

Sun, wind and other renewable energy sources could make up a larger portion of the electricity America consumes if better batteries could be built to store the intermittent energy for cloudy, windless days. Now a new material could allow more utilities to store large amounts of renewable energy and make the nation's power system more reliable and resilient.

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Hummingbirds vs. helicopters: Stanford engineers compare flight dynamics

July 30, 2014 2:31 pm | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford News Service Videos Comments

More than 42 million years of natural selection have turned hummingbirds into some of the world's most energetically efficient flyers, particularly when it comes to hovering in place. Humans, however, are gaining ground quickly. A new study led by David Lentink, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford, reveals that the spinning blades of micro-helicopters are about as efficient at hovering as the average hummingbird.

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Researchers discover cool-burning flames in space

July 28, 2014 2:04 pm | by Ioana Patringenaru, Jacobs School of Engineering Videos Comments

A team of international researchers has discovered a new type of cool burning flames that could lead to cleaner, more efficient engines for cars. The discovery was made during a series of experiments on the International Space Station by a team led by Forman Williams, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Univ. of California, San Diego.

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Novel virus discovered in half the world’s population

July 25, 2014 7:14 am | by Michael Price, San Diego State Univ. Videos Comments

Virologists and biologists in California have identified a highly abundant, never-before-described virus that could play a major role in obesity, diabetes. The virus, named crAssphage, has about 10 times as many base pairs of DNA as HIV and infects one of the most common types of gut bacteria. This phylum of bacteria is thought to be connected with obesity, diabetes and other gut-related diseases.

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