Archive for July, 2011

An electric plane you can (almost) buy

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 29, 2011   View Article

A single-passenger electric airplane that you can (almost) buy is waiting for its day in the sun at an air show in Wisconsin where it hopes to showcase the future of zero-emissions aviation.

Torrential rains at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh earlier this week has created a backlog of flights, delaying a demonstration of the Elektra One, officials said.

Tiny house has everything you need

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 28, 2011   View Article

How much space do you really need to live? No more than 128 square feet – about the same footprint as the trailers lawn care companies use to haul their gear, according to a team of college students and recent alumni keyed into the sustainability movement.

The team is putting the finishing touches on their tiny house which, in fact, was built on a trailer and is completely self-sustainable. It generates all the water and electricity its dweller needs, a first, they say, for this class of miniature housing.

Disk drive tech may aid farming

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 26, 2011   View Article

Plowshares coated with the same diamond-like carbon material used to protect computer hard disks could allow farmers to save on fuel costs and improve the quality of their soils, according to German researchers.

The slippery material “reduces the friction between soil and the plow,” Martin Hoerner, a physicist at the Fraunhofer Institute of the Mechanics of Materials in Freiberg who is working on the project, told me Tuesday via email.

See-through battery in the works

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 25, 2011   View Article

Imagine a smartphone that looks like a piece of clear plastic, lighting up to display contacts, a game, the weather, or email from a friend. That future may be upon us thanks to a new, transparent and flexible lithium-ion battery.

Lithium-ion batteries are the type of energy storage devices that power consumer electronics such as smartphones.

Transparent components of gadgets such as touch screens, displays, and optical circuits have been fabricated, but until now, batteries have prevented fully see-through gadgets from entering the marketplace because the materials used to make batteries are not see-through.

Carbon nanotubes to clean water?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 22, 2011   View Article

Scientists are eyeing carbon nanotubes to clean up municipal water supplies contaminated with wate soluble drugs and other compounds that sneak past common charcoal filters.

The teeny tiny tubes of carbon are a factor of 1,000 more effective at filtering out the aromatic molecules in water soluble drugs, Thilo Hofmann, who heads up the department of environmental geosciences at the University of Vienna, explained to me in an email on Friday.

Computer software helps engineer organisms

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 21, 2011   View Article

A computer software program is outfitting biotechnology companies with the ability to determine the genetic plans they need to engineer microorganisms for the production of products such as building materials, drugs and biofuels.

Companies routinely use microorganisms such as E. coli to manufacture products such as insulin. This has primarily been done by cutting and pasting DNA found in nature into organisms that can be grown in the lab, explained Howard Salis, a synthetic biologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Graphene-coated sensors to strike oil?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: July 20, 2011   View Article

Tiny sensors coated with the wonder-material graphene and powered by flowing water could expedite the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves, according to university researchers supported by the energy industry.

The idea is to plop the sensors into the water injected down exploration wells where they can then move sideways through cracks and crevices in the Earth in search of hydrocarbons. The electricity generated by the flow of water would allow the sensors to relay their findings to the surface.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach