Tech

MINNEAPOLIS – Can a smartphone app enable meaningful, face-to-face conversation?

Engineers are trying to find out, with software that helps people locate their friends in a crowd – and make new friends who share similar interests.

The software, called eShadow, makes its debut at the IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS) on Thursday, June 23 in Minneapolis.

A University of Exeter team has monitored the movements of an entire sub-population of marine turtle for the first time. The study confirms that through satellite tracking we can closely observe the day-to-day lives of marine turtles, accurately predicting their migrations and helping direct conservation efforts.

PHILADELPHIA — When semiconductor nanorods are exposed to light, they blink in a seemingly random pattern. By clustering nanorods together, physicists at the University of Pennsylvania have shown that their combined "on" time is increased dramatically providing new insight into this mysterious blinking behavior.

OSAKA, JAPAN—In horticultural production, growers often depend on systems that use artificial light to produce high-quality transplants. Although the systems are efficient, fluorescent lamps can produce plants with shorter shoots than those grown under natural light. Studies have indicated that this reduced shoot elongation is due to the high red:far red ratio of typical commercial fluorescent lamps, which emit little far red irradiation.

EAST WAREHAM, MA—Cranberry is an important commercial crop in states such as Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Washington, and Oregon. Insects and disease can pose serious problems for growers trying to realize profits in heavy cranberry production regions. Since cranberry is a perennial crop, pest damage can have a particularly significant negative impact in the next growing season.

University of Minnesota engineering researchers in the College of Science and Engineering have recently discovered a new alloy material that converts heat directly into electricity. This revolutionary energy conversion method is in the early stages of development, but it could have wide-sweeping impact on creating environmentally friendly electricity from waste heat sources.

Caribou have been dwindling in Alberta for several decades and some scientists believe they could be gone entirely in 70 years. In the area of the petroleum-rich Athabasca Oil Sands in the northern part of the Canadian province, some say they could disappear in as little as 30 years.

Efforts have begun to remove wolves from parts of Alberta to reduce caribou predation, but new research suggests that human activity related to oil production and the timber industry could be more important than wolves in the caribou population decline.

The obscure technology used in heated automobile seats, gadgets that charge iPhones from the heat of a campfire, and other devices is undergoing a renaissance and could well emerge as a new "green" substitute for traditional sources of energy and play other key roles in addressing some of society's most pressing sustainability issues. That's the conclusion of an article on the technology — termed thermoelectrics — in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) the American Chemical Society's weekly newsmagazine.

The regulation of personal data varies hugely across countries and sectors, research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) reveals.

Researchers at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. recently found a way to improve electricity generating fuel cells, potentially making them more efficient, powerful and less expensive. Specifically, they discovered a way to speed up the flow and filtering of water or ions, which are necessary for fuel cells to operate.

Simply put, the researchers stretched Nafion, a polymer electrolyte membrane, or PEM, commonly used in fuel cells and increased the speed at which it selectively filters substances from ions and water.

In a recent publication in Physical Review Letters, physicists at the University of Arizona propose a way to translate the elusive magnetic spin of electrons into easily measurable electric signals. The finding is a key step in the development of computing based on spintronics, which doesn't rely on electron charge to digitize information.

Unlike conventional computing devices, which require electric charges to flow along a circuit, spintronics harnesses the magnetic properties of electrons rather than their electric charge to process and store information.

COLUMBIA, Mo. –Retirement is often viewed as a time to relax, travel, participate in leisurely activities and spend time with family. However, for many older adults, chronic health problems and poor planning often hinder the enjoyment of retirement. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that planning for changes in lifestyle and health leads to better retirement for married couples.

How does the power output from solar panels fluctuate when the clouds roll in? And can researchers predict these fluctuations? UC San Diego Professor Jan Kleissl and Matthew Lave, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Jacobs School, have found the answer to these questions. They also have developed a software program that allows power grid managers to easily predict fluctuations in the solar grid caused by changes in the cloud cover. The program uses a solar variability law Lave discovered.

Using barium oxide nanoparticles, researchers have developed a self-cleaning technique that could allow solid oxide fuel cells to be powered directly by coal gas at operating temperatures as low as 750 degrees Celsius. The technique could provide a cleaner and more efficient alternative to conventional power plants for generating electricity from the nation's vast coal reserves.

AURORA, Colo (June 20, 2011) Did you ever make mud pies as a kid? Remember how good it felt to get your hands in the dirt, to run through the sprinkler, and get pollen from a sweet-smelling flower on your nose? Most kids who grow up in cities today never have this experience. But the latest research is about to change all that.