Archive for September, 2012

Dragster sets speed record with cheesy biofuel

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 26, 2012   View Article

A dragster powered by biofuel brewed from cheese-making waste has set a blistering land-speed record for a one liter, two cylinder engine of 64.4 miles per hour.

“That, in that class, is fast,” Lance Seefeldt, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Utah State University, told NBC News on Tuesday.

Robotic tuna fish to sniff out homeland threats

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 20, 2012   View Article

Would-be terrorists hoping to sneak weapons and other contraband through U.S. ports on and in the hulls of ships may be thwarted by a robotic tuna fish under development for the government.

The BIOSwimmer robofish is able to overcome so-called position-keeping problems experienced by traditional underwater robots that are powered by vertical and horizontal thrusters, according to the David Taylor, program manager for the robot at the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.

Scotch tape may stick quantum computing to the masses

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 12, 2012   View Article

Even in the out-there world of quantum computing, there’s a use for Scotch tape, according to researchers who used the adhesive to give a semiconductor the properties of a so-called high-temperature superconductor.

The breakthrough is a step toward building the quantum computers of the future and “shows that the standard approach of doing more and more complicated things is not always the best solution,” Kenneth Burch, a physicist at the University of Toronto, told me Wednesday.

Can fungi make violins sound like a Stradivarius?

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 11, 2012   View Article

Violin makers of the future may be able to match the sound quality of a Stradivarius thanks to a pair of fungi that get their nutrition from the wood used to make the instruments.

The Swiss researchers and violin makers behind the project explain that ideal wood for violin tone is low density, with a high speed of sound and a high modulus of elasticity, which is a measure of the wood’s resistance to strain.

Remote-control tech turns cockroaches into beasts of burden

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 7, 2012   View Article

Scientists have outfitted a cockroach with a high-tech backpack that allows them to remotely control where it scurries.

While the concept may sound terrifying, anyone buried alive under rubble in an earthquake will shout for joy at the sight of one of these bugs. The shout will be relayed to rescue teams.

Scientists control rat dreams with technique that could enhance memory

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 6, 2012   View Article

Scientists can sway the dreams of sleeping rats, a breakthrough that could lead to new behavioral and learning therapies in humans that enhance selected memories and block undesired ones, according to a new study.

Going into the study, scientists had already shown that rats dream about what they experience in the hours before drifting off to sleep.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach