Tech

Solar cells made from silicon are projected to be a prominent factor in future renewable green energy equations, but so far the promise has far exceeded the reality. While there are now silicon photovoltaics that can convert sunlight into electricity at impressive 20 percent efficiencies, the cost of this solar power is prohibitive for large-scale use. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), however, are developing a new approach that could substantially reduce these costs. The key to their success is a better way of trapping sunlight.

If harnessing the unlimited solar power of the sun were easy, we wouldn't still have the greenhouse gas problem that results from the use of fossil fuel. And while solar energy systems work moderately well in hot desert climates, they are still inefficient and contribute only a small percentage of the general energy demand. A new solution may be coming from an unexpected source ― a source that may be on your dinner plate tonight.

Blacksburg, Va. -- Students at Virginia Tech's Unmanned Systems Laboratory are perfecting an autonomous helicopter they hope will never be used for its intended purpose. Roughly six feet long and weighing 200 pounds, the re-engineered aircraft is designed to fly into American cities blasted by a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb.

The helicopter's main mission would be to assist military investigators in the unthinkable: Enter an American city after a nuclear attack in order to detect radiation levels, map and photograph damage.

HOUSTON - In a new study from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, researchers found that cystoscopy, the standard for screening for recurrence of early-stage bladder cancer, is a cost-effective method of detecting tumors.

Adding other tests to cystoscopy increases the cost, as well as the number of false positives that may result in emotional distress and unnecessary procedures, the investigators include.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---The most common digital security technique used to protect both media copyright and Internet communications has a major weakness, University of Michigan computer scientists have discovered.

RSA authentication is a popular encryption method used in media players, laptop computers, smartphones, servers and other devices. Retailers and banks also depend on it to ensure the safety of their customers' information online.

Mini- thrusters or miniature, electric propulsion systems are being developed, which could make it easier for the Air Force's small satellites, including the latest CubeSats, to perform space maneuvers and undertake formidable tasks like searching for planets beyond our solar system.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University researchers have developed a miniature device capable of converting ultrafast laser pulses into bursts of radio-frequency signals, a step toward making wires obsolete for communications in the homes and offices of the future.

Such an advance could enable all communications, from high-definition television broadcasts to secure computer connections, to be transmitted from a single base station, said Minghao Qi, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

LAWRENCE, Kan. — People who lie on online dating services likely are people-pleasers who want to present themselves in the most favorable light to get someone to like them — just as they would in face-to-face dating, according to a University of Kansas researcher.

Scientists at L'Oréal, in hot pursuit of the hidden elements of beauty, seem well on their way to disputing the old adage, "beauty is only skin deep." In fact, their work indicates that what makes hair curly or straight and skin smooth or rough, is much deeper. It actually is linked to molecules within the body, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

Far from being a food spoiler, the fluorescent lighting in supermarkets actually can boost the nutritional value of fresh spinach, scientists are reporting. The finding could lead to improved ways of preserving and enhancing the nutritional value of spinach and perhaps other veggies, they suggest in a study in ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Chemicals that helped solve a global environmental crisis in the 1990s — the hole in Earth's protective ozone layer — may be making another problem — acid rain — worse, scientists are reporting. Their study on the chemicals that replaced the ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) once used in aerosol spray cans, air conditioners, refrigerators, and other products, appears in ACS' Journal of Physical Chemistry A, a weekly publication.

A team of scientists in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are reporting disturbing evidence that soil microbes have become progressively more resistant to antibiotics over the last 60 years. Surprisingly, this trend continues despite apparent more stringent rules on use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, and improved sewage treatment technology that broadly improves water quality in surrounding environments. Their report appears in ACS' bi-weekly journal Environmental Science and Technology.

People who suffer from injuries to the distal biceps tendon may benefit from earlier surgical intervention and new surgical techniques, according to a review article published in the March 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS). Located in the front of the elbow, the distal biceps tendon attaches to the lower end of the biceps muscle, and is responsible for two primary motions:

A low-cost water purification technique published in Current Protocols in Microbiology could help drastically reduce the incidence of waterborne disease in the developing world. The procedure, which uses seeds from the Moringa oleifera tree, can produce a 90.00% to 99.99% bacterial reduction in previously untreated water, and has been made free to download as part of access programs under John Wiley & Sons' Corporate Citizenship Initiative.

Researchers from the University of Cádiz (UCA) have studied the connection between professional preferences and personality, based on interviews and questionnaires carried out on 735 secondary school students from the province of Cadiz. The results indicate that personality does not have an influence when choosing a professional career.