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A hot body could help ships reduce drag, save fuel

June 2, 2011 8:04 am | News | Comments

In revisiting the 255 year-old Leidenfrost effect, which describes how a liquid produces an insulating vapor layer when contacting a solid hotter than its boiling point, researchers at the University of Melbourne and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have found a new way to reduce drag on large ships.

Researchers cut machinery fuel consumption by half

June 1, 2011 12:43 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Aalto Univ. in Finland have found a way to cut the amount of fuel consumed by non-road mobile machinery by half. This new technology captures energy, which up to now has been lost by the machinery when working, and uses it instead of fuel. The fuel consumption of construction and mining machines, agricultural machines, and material handling machines is reduced significantly.

Modern-day jetpack takes flight

May 31, 2011 11:46 am | by Paul Livingstone | News | Comments

Last weekend, the Martin Jetpack successfully lifted off, pilot attached, over the New Zealand landscape. The test showcased the machine’s ability to quickly achieve 5,000 feet in altitude and deploy the world’s first ballistic jetpack parachute before returning to earth. The Martin Aircraft Company’s goal is to provide jetpack flight for less than $100,000.

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Honing household helpers

May 26, 2011 5:55 am | by Emily Finn, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Imagine a robot able to retrieve a pile of laundry from the back of a cluttered closet, deliver it to a washing machine, start the cycle, and then zip off to the kitchen to start preparing dinner. This may have been a domestic dream a half-century ago, when the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence first captured public imagination. However, it quickly became clear that even "simple" human actions are extremely difficult to replicate in robots. Now, MIT computer scientists are tackling the problem with a hierarchical, progressive algorithm that has the potential to greatly reduce the computational cost associated with performing complex actions.

Shale gas: a short history from NETL

May 25, 2011 6:39 am | News | Comments

After lying dormant for hundreds of millions of years, shale gas was tapped for the first time in a natural gas well in 1821. Since then, oil has taken the spotlight, but now shale gas is looked to as the energy resource of the present and future. The National Energy Technology Laboratory, which helped pioneer hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, tracks some of the technological developments in shale gas extraction.

Simplifying Parkinson's surgery

May 25, 2011 4:31 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics has become the second academic medical center in the country where neurosurgeons can perform deep-brain stimulation (DBS) in an intra-operative MRI (iMRI) suite.

How protein-making machine bends without breaking

May 20, 2011 5:15 am | News | Comments

In a development that could lead to better antibiotics, scientists from several institutions derived atomic-scale resolution structures of the cell's ribosome at key stages of its job. The structures reveal that the ribosome's ability to rotate an incredible amount without falling apart is due to the never-before-seen springiness of molecular widgets that hold it together.

Characterizing the renegade protein in Huntington's Disease

May 19, 2011 5:15 am | by Agatha Bardoel | News | Comments

An ORNL-Univ. of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine collaboration has for the first time successfully characterized the earliest structural formation of the disease type of the protein "huntingtin" that creates such havoc in Huntington's Disease.

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NMR without the magnets

May 18, 2011 9:43 am | News | Comments

Conventional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is unsurpassed for chemical analysis. The catch is that conventional NMR depends on strong magnetic fields and big, expensive, superconducting magnets. Now Berkeley researchers have found a way to perform chemical analysis with NMR without using any magnets at all.

World's smallest 3D printer

May 17, 2011 8:25 am | News | Comments

Printers, which can produce three-dimensional objects have been available for years. However, at the Vienna Univ. of Technology, a printing device has now been developed, which is much smaller, lighter, and cheaper than ordinary 3D-printers.

Energy-efficient laser for optical communication systems

May 17, 2011 7:41 am | by Andrew Myers | News | Comments

In the push toward ever-smaller and ever-faster data transmission technology, a team of Stanford electrical engineers has produced a nanoscale laser that is much faster and more energy efficient than anything available today.

Engineers to help paraplegic student walk at graduation

May 12, 2011 1:33 pm | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations | News | Comments

Austin Whitney was instantly paralyzed in 2007 when a car accident severed his spinal cord. When he graduates this Saturday at UC Berkeley, he will rise out of his wheelchair to accept his diploma thanks to the help of fellow students who have designed a robotic exoskeleton for his wheelchair.

Second Z plutonium 'shot' safely tests materials for NNSA

May 11, 2011 7:27 am | News | Comments

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that researchers from Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories have completed their second experiment in the past six months at Sandia's Z machine to explore the properties of plutonium materials under extreme pressures and temperatures.

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Tiltable head could improve navigation of undulating robots

May 10, 2011 5:12 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology recently built a robot that can penetrate and "swim" through granular material. In a new study, they show that varying the shape or adjusting the inclination of the robot’s head affects the robot’s movement in complex environments.

Robot engages novice computer scientists

May 6, 2011 4:44 am | News | Comments

Learning how to program a computer to display the words "Hello World" once may have excited students, but that hoary chestnut of a lesson doesn’t cut it in a world of videogames, smartphones, and Twitter. One option to take its place and engage a new generation of students in computer programming is a Carnegie Mellon Univ.-developed robot called Finch.

Speeding swarms of sensor robots

May 3, 2011 4:11 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new MIT-developed algorithm ensures that robotic environmental sensors will be able to focus on areas of interest without giving other areas short shrift.

NASA technology looks inside Japan's nuclear reactor

April 29, 2011 10:14 am | News | Comments

Design techniques honed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., for Mars rovers were used to create the rover currently examining the inside of Japan's nuclear reactors, in areas not yet deemed safe for human crews.

New submersible capable of return to deepest ocean depths

April 27, 2011 7:03 am | News | Comments

Triton Submarines this week announced the impending release of their Triton 36,000 full ocean depth submersible. Featuring passenger cockpit approximately six feet in diameter and made entirely of borosilicate glass developed using a new process from Rayotek Scientific, the sub will offer the possibility of a return to the deepest part of the ocean in more than 50 years.

Physicists nab new record for heaviest antimatter

April 25, 2011 4:28 am | News | Comments

Members of the international STAR collaboration at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider have detected the antimatter partner of the helium nucleus: antihelium-4. This new particle, also known as the anti-alpha, is the heaviest antinucleus ever detected.

Slim SIA-series robots from Motoman

April 11, 2011 7:08 am | Product Releases | Comments

Motoman Robotics recently introduced their SIA-series robots, which feature an actuator-based 7-axis design with wrist performance characteristics that enable freedom of movement. The SIA-series is suited for assembly, injection molding, machine tending, and other industrial applications.

Company planning biggest rocket since man on moon

April 6, 2011 5:18 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Although the Falcon Heavy has been in SpaceX’s plans for some time, Tuesday marks the first time founder Elon Musk has announced his company’s intentions to launch the first Heavy in 2013. The rocket would put 117,000 pounds of cargo into the same orbit as the International Space Station, more than twice as much as the Space Shuttle.

Richard Branson plans deep-ocean submarine dives

April 6, 2011 4:52 am | by Noaki Schwartz, Associated Press | News | Comments

Over the next two years, billionaire adventurer Richard Branson will plumb the deepest depths of the world’s five oceans with a new 18-foot-long Virgin Oceanic submarine that was unveiled Tuesday in Newport Beach, Calif. He has partnered with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and several other research laboratories to add scientific clout to his plans.

Pumping up the polarization of protons for RHIC

April 6, 2011 4:50 am | News | Comments

The competition may have been slim, but the feat was great. With custom-built power supplies built from old inventory and 1960s quadrupole magnets pulled from storage, Brookhaven Lab's Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) can now provide researchers with five to eight percent more protons that are polarized—breaking its own world record set in 2009 for the highest polarization, energy, and intensity beams at BNL’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC).

Digging through the discontinuity

March 30, 2011 9:23 am | by Paul Livingstone | Blogs | Comments

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, some of the last hurdles in human exploration of the globe were overthrown, notably the scaling of Mt. Everest and the plumbing of the depths of the Marianas Trench. They paved the way for planting a flag on the Moon. But one notable project went underfunded and eventually forgotten.

Japan quake stirs unease about global supply chain

March 30, 2011 7:02 am | by Joe McDonald, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

A shortage of auto parts and other components after Japan's earthquake has stirred unease about two pillars of manufacturing: the country's role as a crucial link in the global supply chain and "just in time" production. The realization that these practices have made companies brittle in the face of natural disasters has some questioning current practices.

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