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A micro nuclear reactor in your garden?
Roland Piquepaille’s Emerging Technology Trends blog features technology that’ll make you wish you were living in the next decade. But there will also be some “advances” that you’ll wish never happened. Here are some of his best posts over the past few weeks.nn
According to The Guardian New Mexico-based Hyperion Power Generation is already receiving firm orders and expects to deliver about 4,000 “individual” nuclear power plants between 2013 and 2023. The nuclear reactors are expected to be small enough to be carried by truck and buried in a garden. It also said that it has a six-year waiting list. So if you want such a micro nuclear reactor, don’t expect to receive it by 2014.nn
Credit: Hyperion Power Generation
Flying lens boosts chip density by a factor of 100
Engineers at the University of California at Berkeley have developed a new approach that involves u2018flying’ an array of plasmonic lenses just 20 nanometers above a rotating surface. With this approach, it is possible to increase throughput by several orders of magnitude. This process could make current microprocessors more than 10 times smaller, but far more powerful’ and that u2018it could lead to ultra-high density disks that can hold 10 to 100 times more data than today’s disks.’.
nRead more…nCredit: UC Berkeley
1,500 ships to fight climate change?
According to UK and U.S. researchers, it should be possible to fight the global warming effects associated with an increase of dioxide levels by using autonomous cloud-seeding ships to spray salt water into the air. This project would require the deployment of a worldwide fleet of 1,500 unmanned ships to cool the Earth even if the level of carbon dioxide doubled. But would any country pick up the multi-billion dollar price tag?
nnCredit: John MacNeill
Genetically modified cancer-killer tomatoes
In an experiment to make fruits and vegetables more palatable, European researchers have decided to genetically modify one of the plants we still often eat, the tomato. And the high anthocyanins content purple tomatoes they’ve produced are apparently able to extend lifespan in cancer-prone mice. (Annthocyanins are part of a category of antioxidants belonging to the class of flavonoids). Experiments on mice look promising, with the ones eating these purple tomatoes having an average lifespan of 182 days in comparison to the 142 recorded for mice fed with standard diet.
nnCredit: John Innes Centre, UK
Drink beer to avoid cancer
The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) synthetic biology competition held last week in Cambridge, Massachusetts is based on u2018a standard toolkit of DNA building blocks — think genetic LEGO blocks — to create living organisms that do odd things.’ One of these teams, the u2018BiOWLogists’ from Rice University, unveiled an anticancer beer, dubbed u2018BioBeer.’ It will contain resveratrol, u2018a chemical in wine that’s been shown to reduce cancer and heart disease in lab animals.’ The team took second place for best presentation.
Credit: Wikipedia contributor Ccroberts
How our brain sees objects in 3-D
Neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) have discovered how we see objects in depth. Even if computers are better than humans in chess games, they can’t beat us in the field of object recognition. This JHU research work ‘suggests that higher-level visual regions of the brain represent objects as spatial configurations of surface fragments, something like a structural drawing.’
A protein version of a Vermeer masterwork
Canadian scientists have recreated the famous painting, u2018Girl with a Pearl Earring’ – a masterwork of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, on the microscale by using a new protein patterning technique. In fact, they’ve used a new laser method to draw protein pictures. But the real goal of this work is to replicate the brain’s complex cellular environment. The research team said their new laser method is u2018a major discovery, since the new laser technology can encourage and guide the growth of finicky nerve cells.’ nn
Robot helicopters flying low among obstacles
According to New Scientist, engineers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have modified an unmanned commercial civilian helicopter to fly fast and low while avoiding obstacles such as buildings, trees or power lines. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Yamaha has been adapted to integrate a sensing system able to see obstacles — and to avoid them.nn
New Australian land warfare robots
Australia’s Minister of Defense Warren Snowdon showed off a new robot called SPIKER designed to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs). For your curiosity, SPIKER is an acronym for u2018Special Purpose IED Killer Experimental Robot.’ Snowdon also unveiled a remotely controlled vehicle known as RASP — short for u2018Remote Advanced Sensor Platform’ — which can identify radioactive threats from a distance. This post is focused on SPIKER which should cost about $15,000 to produce, about a tenth of the cost of existing robots able to do a similar job, according to other sources.
nnCredit: Australian Department of Defense
The world’s first optical firewall?
According to ICT Results, researchers for a EU-funded project named WISDOM are developing an optical firewall which aims to clear Internet security bottlenecks. WISDOM is an acronym for u2018Wirespeed security domains using optical monitoring.’ The project started in June 2006 and should be completed in May 2009 for a total cost of u20ac1.91 million. This optical firewall should be able to analyze data on fiber optic networks at speeds of 40 gigabits per second. n
Credit: WISDOM project
Wireless networks can avoid car crashes
European researchers are working on a project named I-WAY, an acronym for u2018Intelligent co-operative system in cars for road safety.’ The goal of this project is to develop new automotive safety systems that will alert drivers to potential hazards by using data obtained from in-vehicle sensing systems, the road infrastructure and other road users.nn
Credit: I-WAY project
A rocket to see through the northern lights?
The northern lights are beautiful when you see them from the ground. But they can be dangerous for your life if you’re in a plane crossing an area where they are active. This is why a Norwegian professor of physics is about to launch a rocket to discover the mysteries of the northern lights. The 9-meter long rocket should be launched between November 28 and December 7, 2008. It should reach an altitude of 350 kilometers and its flying time will be only 10 minutes. Let’s hope that the embarked sensors function correctly.n
Flying robots behave like wild animals
A team of engineers at the University of Maryland specializing in flight and navigation, is turning to biology for inspiration to protect troops as the military’s role in international dealings has increased. According to the team leader, the key to ensuring troops’ protection lies in the study of birds and insects. So they’re developing robots that both look and behave like wild animals, u201choping one day these machines can be used to scout enemy territory and warn American soldiers of potential ambushes.u201dnn
Credit: University of Maryland
Multi-touch smart desks surface in the classroom
Researchers at Durham University in the UK are using them to develop the world’s first interactive classroom. The new learning environments are using u2018interactive multi-touch desks that look and act like a large version of an Apple iPhone.’ Their initiative, called SynergyNet, has several goals, including the development of learning by sharing.
nCredit: Durham University