The tungsten lightbulb has served well over the century or so since it was introduced, but its days are numbered now with the arrival of LED lighting, which consume 1/10 the power of incandescent bulbs and have a lifespan 30x longer. Potential uses of LEDs are not limited to illumination: smart lighting products offer various additional features, including linking your laptop or smartphone to the Internet. Move over Wi-Fi, Li-Fi is here.
Human beings inherit many genetic traits directly from their parents. However, cultural traits — tools, beliefs and behaviors that are transmitted by learning — can be passed on not only by parents but also teachers and peers. Many animals have learned behaviors, but people are uniquely good at building on existing knowledge to innovate further. This capacity, known as cumulative culture, was captured by Sir Isaac Newton...
One of the hottest topics in lab informatics discussions today encompasses externalization of scientific R&D. Organizations spanning many industries (petrochemicals, food and beverage, fine chemicals, pharma/biotech) have increasingly outsourced a variety of activities along the business value chain. Extending existing systems into an externalized world that they were never designed to address presents myriad more predicaments.
Two years ago, I taught a section of Calculus I to approximately 650 undergrads in a large auditorium. Perhaps “taught” isn’t the right word. “Performed,” maybe? Unsurprisingly, my student evaluations were not as high as they usually are in my more typical classes of 35 students. I particularly remember one comment: “This class destroyed my confidence.” According to a new Mathematical Association of America report, this outcome is common.
With support from DARPA, and in support of the White House BRAIN Initiative, researchers have set out to build the world’s first neural system to enable naturalistic feeling and movements in prosthetic hands. The HAPTIX program aims to provide wounded service members with full and natural dexterous control over advanced prosthetic devices that substitute for amputated hands — the name HAPTIX is a play on the word haptics...
In advance of the Modeling, Simulation and Crash Testing of Automotive Lightweight Materials Congress — a congress encompassing cost-effective modeling, crash simulation and lifecycle prediction for lightweight materials and composites taking place January 26-27 — Steven Sheng, a formability engineer at GM and Xinran Xiao, a professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan State University, offer a few insights on their upcoming talks.
Reproducibility is one of the cornerstones of science. Made popular by Robert Boyle in the 1660s, the idea is that a discovery should be reproducible before being accepted as scientific knowledge. In essence, you should be able to produce the same results if you follow the method I describe when announcing my discovery in a scholarly publication. If not, we’re left wondering what accident or mistake produced the original favorable result.
Human beings will always be explorers. We’ve pretty well surveyed our planet, our tiny blue dot, for answers and only found more questions. We’ve already taken baby steps out into the solar system. But cheap, affordable space travel would be revolutionary, heralding in technologies we haven’t even imagined. But here’s the thing: we won’t be heading to the stars in a rocket. Rockets are a terrible way of getting to space.
November 8 marks the 120th anniversary of one of the greatest moments in the history of science: an obscure German physics professor’s discovery of the X-ray. In the six weeks that followed, Wilhelm Roentgen devoted nearly every waking hour to exploring the properties of the new rays before announcing his discovery to the world. Within just months, scientists worldwide were experimenting with the newly discovered rays.
When Svetlana Alexievich won this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, it was not unexpected. She was not only the clear favorite with the bookmakers but had traded as one of the leaders in the betting in the previous two years. While firms lay odds on the literature and peace prizes, there are no betting lines available for physics, chemistry and medicine. Instead, organized platform seeks to predict winners based on research citations.
Recently, a New York Times article on Russian submarine activity near undersea communications cables dredged up Cold War politics and generated widespread recognition of the submerged systems we all depend upon. Not many people realize that undersea cables transport nearly 100 percent of transoceanic data traffic. These lines carry the world’s internet, phone calls and even TV transmissions between continents at the speed of light.
The transformation of conventional R&D operating models is continuing at a rapid pace. The poor track record of preclinical candidates successfully making it to market, rising costs and increasing scientific complexity is forcing biopharmaceutical companies to rethink how they have traditionally executed pipeline projects. It is no longer acceptable to “go it alone” and perform all activities. Partnering is now in vogue.
When I think of a tractor beam — a stream of energy that can move objects — I imagine a ray emerging from a spaceship gripping an object outside and pulling it in. In my mind this spaceship is the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek, but the idea has been used in countless science fiction plots. But in the last few decades, the concept has also gathered attention from scientists and engineers.
Using supercomputers to calculate the properties of all known materials based on first-principles quantum-mechanical frameworks, the Materials Project has attracted more than 10,000 users since it was launched in 2011. The Project aims to take the guesswork out of finding the best material for a job by making the characteristics of every inorganic compound available to any interested scientist. With more than 58,244 compounds...
Quantum mechanics is weird. Far apart objects can influence each other in what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance,” and cats can potentially be dead and alive at the same time. Researchers have proven the link between particles at a distance reflects how the universe behaves. Others have set out to show a living creature can be in two different quantum states at the same time — just like Schrödinger’s cat.