Solar thermal energy converters, generators that capture and use heat from the sun, have greater potential than solar cells for efficient, low-cost energy production. Preventing heat loss through conduction or convection is the key, and researchers at the UK's University of Bristol have developed a three-layer sandwich with carbon and gold that effectively accomplishes this.
Solar stills to purify water are typically costly affairs due to the mirrors or lenses required to concentrate the heat of the sun. But MIT mechanical engineer Gang Chen has developed a low-cost alternative that employs a commonly used metal and ceramic composite material, copper and bubble wrap as an insulator, thus lowering the cost to about 5% of conventional technology.
Computerized maintenance management systems are a powerful way to use predictive maintenance and can make positive contributions if other departments are allowed access. In such scenarios, CMMS can serve as the go-to source for an agreed-on "version of the truth" and reduce drains on productivity and communications.
Remote diagnostics for truck fleets are now refined enough to distinguish between faults that require immediate attention and those that can wait, thus keeping more trucks on the road. And now they can even make engine adjustments remotely, eliminating the need to visit a shop.
BRAINtellect 2, a wearable device with sensors that was developed to improve sleep quality, could help reduce the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as treat PTSD, according to researchers at the Military Health System Research Symposium. Researchers looked at data from a large number of combat personnel and found an association between sleep disturbance and PTSD.
For those willing to commit to crowdfunding, a 3D printer that prints in ceramics can now be had for $165. The VAY kit is the product of a team of Chinese students led by mechanical engineer Wen-Qiang Liu, a long-time advocate of bringing the technology to the masses at low cost.
The lofty cost of advanced research can be prohibitive, but scientists are finding more economical ways to carry on with 3D printing and a little tinkering. Scientists are turning themselves into makers, leveraging technology to produce highly specialized equipment for fields including energy, transportation and neuroscience.
Engineer Anthony Levandowski, the man heading up Uber's bid for driverless cars, traces his obsession with the possibilities of robotics to a 2004 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contest. Since then, the technology has come a long way, with Uber planning to put autonomous cars on the streets of Pittsburgh this month and Ford vowing to produce driverless vehicles within five years.
After a turtle named Uga was likely attacked by rats, her back leg was heavily damaged and had to be amputated, leaving her immobile. Veterinarian Nicola Di Girolamo of Italy worked with a 3D-printing company to develop a prosthetic device, and now Uga can motor around.
A mobile app from Operator goes a step beyond the usual chatbot to enhance the shopping experience with human input, creating a sort of e-commerce cyborg. Human curators recommend products in various categories, and a chatbot addresses ordinary interactions, leaving the higher-functioning, subjective work to the humans.
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