Tech

Using measurements of the four ESA's Cluster satellites, a study published this week in Nature Physics shows pioneering experimental evidence of magnetic reconnection also in turbulent 'plasma' around Earth.This image provides a model of magnetic fields at the Sun's surface using SOHO data, showing irregular magnetic fields (the ‘magnetic carpet’) in the solar corona (top layer of the Sun's atmosphere).

Juicing up your cell phone or iPod may take on a whole new meaning in the future. Researchers at Saint Louis University in Missouri have developed a fuel cell battery that runs on virtually any sugar source — from soft drinks to tree sap — and has the potential to operate three to four times longer on a single charge than conventional lithium ion batteries, they say.

The American Institute of Mathematics (AIM), one of the leading math institutes in the U.S., announced today that after four years of intensive collaboration, 18 leading mathematicians and computer scientists from the U.S. and Europe have successfully mapped E8, one of the largest and most complicated structures in mathematics. Partners on this project included MIT, Cornell University, University of Michigan, University of Utah and University of Maryland.The E8 root system consists of 240 vectors in an eight-dimensional space.

A new light source based on fiber-optic technology promises to improve the inspection of food, produce, paper, currency, recyclables and other products. New research revealing this technology will be presented at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (OFC/NFOEC), being held March 25-29 in Anaheim, Calif.

The Internet is enough of a marvel that most people would never ask, "Is this really how we would build it if we could design it all today?" But asking that very question is the job of a broad-based team of Stanford researchers. Taking a nothing-is-sacred approach to better meet human communications needs, this month they are launching a new program called the Clean Slate Design for the Internet. They will present their ideas March 21 during a daylong workshop at the annual meeting of the Stanford Computer Forum.

Japan's advanced humanoids can now serve tea and wash the cup afterwards, but they still need to learn from their mistakes if they are to become real household helpers.

A Tokyo University team this week showed their latest robots which can perform more complicated daily tasks, but the machines still have a learning curve.

In a model living room equipped with robotic items including two humanoids, professor Tomomasa Sato plopped himself down on the sofa, prompting a reading lamp to turn on automatically.

Researchers from MIT, Georgia Institute of Technology and Ohio State University have developed a new computer modeling approach to study how materials behave under stress at the atomic level, offering insights that could help engineers design materials with an ideal balance between strength and resistance to failure.

A team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has created the world’s first material that reflects virtually no light. Reporting in the March issue of Nature Photonics, they describe an optical coating made from the material that enables vastly improved control over the basic properties of light. The research could open the door to much brighter LEDs, more efficient solar cells, and a new class of "smart" light sources that adjust to specific environments, among many other potential applications.

Researchers have used the world's thinnest material to create the world's smallest transistor – a breakthrough that could spark the development of a new type of super-fast computer chip.

Professor Andre Geim and Dr Kostya Novoselov from The School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester, reveal details of transistors that are only one atom thick and less than 50 atoms wide, in the March issue of Nature Materials.

The Altair 8800, introduced in the early 1970s, was the first computer you could build at home from a kit. It was crude, didn't do much, but many historians would say that it launched the desktop computer revolution.