Tech

Just a few years ago, the average computer user’s documents, applications and even photos seemed to rattle around a 120 GB disk drive. Today’s multimedia-intensive user can exhaust that capacity in no time and engineers expect to max out conventional magnetic storage techniques by about 2010.

At that point, they’ll be looking for nanotechnology to step up.

An international team including researcher Ermanno Borra, from Université Laval’s Center for Optics, Photonics, and Laser, have found a combination of materials that allows the creation of a highly reflective liquid mirror capable of functioning even on the moon's harsh landscape.

Science fiction? Not at all.

Engineers at Purdue University are developing robots able to make "educated guesses" about what lies ahead as they traverse unfamiliar surroundings, reducing the amount of time it takes to successfully navigate those environments.

The method works by using a new software algorithm that enables a robot to create partial maps as it travels through an environment for the first time. The robot refers to this partial map to predict what lies ahead.

By precisely controlling billions of individual electrons every second, they hope to develop new computing systems and increase the security of digital communication.

Much like the conveyor belt in a production plant, NPL’s electron surf machine delivers electrons one by one in a reliable steady stream at a rate of more than a billion a second. Whilst small streams of electrons can already be produced, until now no one has found a way to deliver them in a controlled fashion at such a high rate.

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), along with colleagues at George Mason University and Kwangwoon University in Korea, have fabricated a memory device that combines silicon nanowires with a more traditional type of data-storage. Their hybrid structure may be more reliable than other nanowire-based memory devices recently built and more easily integrated into commercial applications.

In the internet age, when 120,000,000 smart people on Digg can see an article about your technology, it takes some real courage to use the term "unbreakable", but the guys at NIST are doing just that.

MIT researchers were recently able to light a 60W light bulb from a power source seven feet away; there was no physical connection between the source and the appliance.

Transporting energy without any loss, travelling in magnetically levitated trains, carrying out medical imaging (MRI) with small-scale equipment: all these things could come true if we had superconducting materials that worked at room temperature. Today, researchers at CNRS have taken another step forward on the road leading to this ultimate goal. They have revealed the metallic nature of a class of so-called critical high-temperature superconducting materials. This result has been eagerly awaited for 20 years.

Researchers at the University of Illinois are developing panels of microcavity plasma lamps that may soon brighten people’s lives. The thin, lightweight panels could be used for residential and commercial lighting, and for certain types of biomedical applications.Cross-sectional diagram of a flat lamp structure based on aluminum foil encapsulated in saphire and a thin glass coating.

Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity has fascinated physicists and generated debate about the origin of the universe and the structure of objects like black holes and complex stars called quasars. A major focus has been on confirming the existence of the gravitomagnetic field, as well as gravitational waves.