Tech

Molecules in their breath, sweat and skin have been used to detect humans in a simulation of a collapsed building, raising the prospect of portable sensors for use in real-life situations, such as the devastating aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and more recent disasters in New Zealand and Japan.

How can we better exploit the light that hits the outside of a building? Imagine sunlight channelled into the building An optofluidic solar lighting system could capture sunlight from a roof using a light concentrating system that follows the sun's path by changing the angle of the water's refraction, and then distribute the sunlight throughout the building through light pipes or fibre optic cables to the ceilings of office spaces, indoor solar panels, or even microfluidic air filters.

Measuring at the limits of the laws of nature – this is the challenge which researchers repeatedly take up in their search for gravitational waves. The interferometers they use here measure with such sensitivity that a particular quantum phenomenon of light – shot noise – limits the measuring accuracy. With the "squeezed light" method scientists from the Max Planck Society and the Leibniz University Hannover likewise use quantum physics in a countermove in order to remove the interfering effect.

Tropical Storm Nate is perched to make landfall in Mexico this weekend, and warnings are in effect. Nate is one of three major weather events around the Gulf of Mexico today, and NASA's Aqua satellite captured all three in one image. Raging wildfires are occurring in Texas while the remnant clouds from Tropical Storm Lee in the northern Gulf of Mexico were also seen by Aqua.

Poachers could be tracked down through tests for human DNA on deer remains, according to research led by scientists at the University of Strathclyde.

Identifying deer poachers can be problematic, as the crimes are often committed in remote areas and are not discovered until some time after the event. Poachers' practice of disassembling a carcass also often means that little physical evidence, and consequently little human DNA, is left behind.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Two remarkable pulsed-power machines used to test the nation's defenses against atomic weapons have surpassed milestones at Sandia National Laboratories: 4,000 firings, called 'shots,' on the Saturn accelerator and 9,000 shots on the HERMES III accelerator.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers have created an application that enables cell phones and other portable devices to translate foreign-language food menus for English speakers and could be used for people who must follow restricted diets for medical reasons.

CLEMSON, S.C. — By looking to Mother Nature for solutions, researchers have identified a promising new binder material for lithium-ion battery electrodes that not only could boost energy storage, but also eliminate the use of toxic compounds now used to manufacture the components.

Known as alginate, the material is extracted from common, fast-growing brown algae. In tests so far, it has helped boost energy storage and output for both graphite-based electrodes used in existing batteries and silicon-based electrodes being developed for future generations of batteries.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The increasing complexity of multi-invention technologies such as laptops and smartphones raises serious challenges for firms looking to cash in with the "next big thing," and points to a need for businesses to integrate their patent and business strategies, according to research published by a University of Illinois patent strategy expert.

PASADENA, Calif.—Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have obtained the first high-resolution, three-dimensional images of a cell with a nucleus undergoing cell division. The observations, made using a powerful imaging technique in combination with a new method for slicing cell samples, indicate that one of the characteristic steps of mitosis is significantly different in some cells.

Embargoed until 1800 hrs London time/1300 US Eastern Time (please note new standard embargo time) on WEDNESDAY 07 SEPTEMBER 2011

Ultra high precision analyses of some of the oldest rock samples on Earth by researchers at the University of Bristol provides clear evidence that the planet's accessible reserves of precious metals are the result of a bombardment of meteorites more than 200 million years after the Earth was formed. The research is published today in Nature.

When it comes to Major League Baseball's pitchers, the more strikes, the better. But what if white umpires call strikes more often for white pitchers than for minority pitchers?

New research findings provide an answer. Analysis of 3.5 million pitches from 2004 to 2008 found that minority pitchers scale back their performance to overcome racial/ethnic favoritism toward whites by MLB home plate umpires, said Johan Sulaeman, a financial economist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a study author.

Scientists from the University of Picardie Jules Verne and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are reporting development of a new genre of an electrolyte system for solar cells that breaks the double-digit barrier in the efficiency with which the devices convert sunlight into electricity. Their study appears in Journal of the American Chemical Society.

With a technology called "fracking" sparking energy booms — and controversy — worldwide, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) describes advances in the workhorse materials used to produce oil and gas from previously inaccessible deposits deep below Earth's surface. C&EN is the American Chemical Society's weekly newsmagazine.

Cables made of carbon nanotubes are inching toward electrical conductivities seen in metal wires, and that may light up interest among a range of industries, according to Rice University researchers.

A Rice lab made such a cable from double-walled carbon nanotubes and powered a fluorescent light bulb at standard line voltage -- a true test of the novel material's ability to stake a claim in energy systems of the future.

The work appears this week in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.