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New airborne GPS technology for weather conditions takes flight

March 19, 2014 9:19 am | News | Comments

In 2010, researchers demonstrated for the first time that atmospheric information could be captured by an airborne GPS device. Now, a new technique led by a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography stands to improve weather models and hurricane forecasting by detecting precise conditions in the atmosphere through a new GPS system. A first-time demonstration using this system has captured key meteorological data from aircraft.

NIST chips help South Pole telescope find direct evidence of universe origin

March 19, 2014 9:16 am | News | Comments

Earlier this week, a team of U.S. cosmologists using the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole said they have discovered the first direct evidence of the rapid inflation of the universe at the dawn of time. The finding was made possible, in part, by superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) designed at NIST.

Obama unleashing power of data on climate change

March 19, 2014 8:47 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The White House on Wednesday announced an initiative to provide private companies and local governments better access to already public climate data. The idea is that with this localized data they can help the public understand the risks they face, especially in coastal areas. The government also is working with Google, Microsoft and Intel, to come up with tools to make communities more resilient in dealing with weather extremes.

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Smartphone to become smarter with “deep learning” innovation

March 19, 2014 8:01 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers are working to enable smartphones and other mobile devices to understand and immediately identify objects in a camera's field of view, overlaying lines of text that describe items in the environment. The innovation could find applications in "augmented reality" technologies like Google Glass, facial recognition systems and robotic cars that drive themselves.

New lens design improves kidney stone treatment

March 18, 2014 10:53 am | by Ken Kingery, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Duke Univ. engineers have devised a way to improve the efficiency of lithotripsy—the demolition of kidney stones using focused shock waves. After decades of research, all it took was cutting a groove near the perimeter of the shock wave-focusing lens and changing its curvature.

Flexible carbon nanotube circuits are more reliable, power efficient

March 18, 2014 9:57 am | News | Comments

Engineers would love to create flexible electronic devices, such as e-readers that could be folded to fit into a pocket. One approach they are trying involves designing circuits based on electronic fibers, known as carbon nanotubes, instead of rigid silicon chips. But reliability is essential.

New algorithm improves the efficiency of small wind turbines

March 18, 2014 9:47 am | News | Comments

Small wind turbines tend to be located in areas where wind conditions are more unfavorable and control systems of current wind turbines cannot adapt. To address this problem, researchers in Spain have developed an adaptive algorithm that can contribute toward making these miniature turbines more efficient.

Researchers devise stretchable antenna for wearable health monitoring

March 18, 2014 9:13 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new, stretchable antenna that can be incorporated into wearable technologies, such as health monitoring devices. The researchers wanted to develop an antenna that could be stretched, rolled or twisted and always return to its original shape, because wearable systems can be subject to a variety of stresses as patients move around.

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Graphene light detector first to span infrared spectrum

March 18, 2014 8:04 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

The first room-temperature light detector that can sense the full infrared spectrum has the potential to put heat vision technology into a contact lens. Unlike comparable mid- and far-infrared detectors currently on the market, the detector developed by Univ. of Michigan engineering researchers doesn't need bulky cooling equipment to work.

The rush to rain

March 17, 2014 8:31 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new analysis of satellite data reveals a link between dust in North Africa and West Asia and stronger monsoons in India. The study shows that dust in the air absorbs sunlight west of India, warming the air and strengthening the winds carrying moisture eastward. This results in more monsoon rainfall about a week later in India.

Big data tackles tiny molecular machines

March 14, 2014 12:11 pm | News | Comments

Biophysicists at Rice Univ. have used a miniscule machine, a protease called an FtsH-AAA hexameric peptidase, as a model to test calculations that combine genetic and structural data. Their goal is to solve one of the most compelling mysteries in biology: how proteins perform the regulatory mechanisms in cells upon which life depends.

Emotion detectors could make driving safer

March 14, 2014 10:46 am | News | Comments

Technology now allows us to read facial expressions and identify which of the seven universal emotions a person is feeling: fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise or suspicion. This is very useful in video game development, medicine, marketing and, perhaps less obviously, in driver safety. Scientists and automakers are now using these tools and embedded cameras to observe drivers and determine when driver irritation takes place.

Nanoscale optical switch breaks miniaturization barrier

March 14, 2014 10:15 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt Univ. | News | Comments

An ultra-fast and ultra-small optical switch has been invented that could advance the day when photons replace electrons in the innards of consumer products ranging from cell phones to automobiles. The new optical device can turn on and off trillions of times per second and consists of tiny individual switches made of a metamaterial that uses vanadium dioxide.

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Researchers write languages to design synthetic living systems

March 14, 2014 10:08 am | by Emily Kale, Virginia Tech | News | Comments

A computer-aided design tool has been used by researchers at Virginia Tech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create genetic languages to guide the design of biological systems. Known as GenoCAD, the open-source software was developed to help synthetic biologists capture biological rules to engineer organisms that produce useful products or health-care solutions from inexpensive, renewable materials.

Google cameras take rafting trip at Grand Canyon

March 14, 2014 10:03 am | by Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press | News | Comments

The 360-degree views of the Grand Canyon that went live Thursday in Google's Street View map option once were reserved largely for rafters who were lucky enough to board a private trip through the remote canyon, or those willing to pay big bucks to navigate its whitewater rapids. But a partnership with the advocacy group American Rivers has allowed to Google to take its all-seeing eyes down nearly 300 miles of rich geologic history.

Amsterdam canal house built with 3-D printer

March 14, 2014 9:58 am | by Toby Sterling, Associated Press | News | Comments

Hundreds of years after wealthy merchants began building the tall, narrow brick houses that have come to define Amsterdam's skyline, Dutch architects are updating the process for the 21st century: fabricating pieces of a canal house out of plastic with a giant 3-D printer and slotting them together like oversized Lego blocks.

Making sense of big data

March 13, 2014 12:56 pm | by Wallace Ravven, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Ben Recht, a statistician and electrical engineer at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, looks for problems. He develops mathematical strategies to help researchers, from urban planners to online retailers, cut through blizzards of data to find what they’re after. He resists the “needle in the haystack” metaphor for big data because, he says, people usually don’t know enough about their data to understand the goal.

Soft robotic fish moves like the real thing

March 13, 2014 8:05 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Soft robots have become a sufficiently popular research topic that they now have their own journal, Soft Robotics. In the first issue of that journal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers report the first self-contained autonomous soft robot capable of rapid body motion: a “fish” that can execute an escape maneuver, convulsing its body to change direction in just a fraction of a second, or almost as quickly as a real fish can.

California pushes to finish driverless car rules

March 12, 2014 1:44 pm | by Justin Pritchard, Associated Press | News | Comments

Once the stuff of science fiction, driverless cars could be commercially available by decade's end. Under a California law passed in 2012, the DMV must decide by the end of this year how to integrate the autonomous vehicles onto public roads. That means the regulation's writers will post draft language regulations around June, then alter the rules in response to public comment by fall in order to get them finalized by the end of 2014.

Inventor of Web calls for digital bill of rights

March 12, 2014 8:50 am | Videos | Comments

The World Wide Web marks its 25th anniversary this year. On Wednesday, its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, commented about the state of the Internet and about the need to defend principles that have made the Web successful. Named an R&D Scientist of the Year in 1996, Berners-Lee has been a long-time proponent of openness and neutrality on the Web.

Lignin breakthroughs serve as GPS for plant research

March 12, 2014 7:57 am | by D'Lyn Ford, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have developed the equivalent of GPS directions for future plant scientists to understand how plants adapt to the environment and to improve plants’ productivity and biofuel potential. Two articles published in The Plant Cell offer a step-by-step approach for studying plant traits, drawing on comprehensive, quantitative research on lignin formation in black cottonwood.

South By Southwest: Secrets, spying, chef Watson

March 11, 2014 11:49 am | by Barbara Ortutay, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

FOMO—or the fear of missing out—is a common complaint at the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas each year. It's here, after all, that "Girls" creator Lena Dunham spoke on Monday at the same time that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave a teleconferenced talk. All the while, IBM showed off the capabilities of cognitive computing in a language anyone could understand: food.

Diagnosing diseases with smartphones

March 11, 2014 9:59 am | by Toby Weber, Univ. of Houston | News | Comments

Smartphones are capable of giving us directions when we’re lost, sending photos and videos to our friends in mere seconds and, perhaps very soon, diagnose our diseases in real time. Researchers in Texas are developing a disease diagnostic system made of a glass slide and a porous film of gold that offers results that could be read using only a smartphone and a $20 lens attachment.

Bending the light with a tiny chip

March 11, 2014 7:56 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

Imagine that you are in a meeting with coworkers or at a gathering of friends. You pull out your cell phone to show a presentation or a video on YouTube. But you don't use the tiny screen; your phone projects a bright, clear image onto a wall or a big screen. Such a technology may be on its way, thanks to a new light-bending silicon chip developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology.

Scientists build thinnest-possible LEDs to be stronger, more energy efficient

March 10, 2014 1:11 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Most modern electronics, from flatscreen TVs and smartphones to wearable technologies and computer monitors, use tiny light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. These LEDs are based off of semiconductors that emit light with the movement of electrons. As devices get smaller and faster, there is more demand for such semiconductors that are tinier, stronger and more energy efficient.

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