Food to fuel, tissue regeneration, and Japanese wind power
When Vincent van Gogh painted The Starry Night in 1889, he brilliantly captured a single moment in time. But with the 13 March inauguration of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, or ALMA, scientists and engineers now have the ability to see back to the beginning of time itself. ALMA’s 50 (out of an eventual 66) high-precision antennas can yield images 10 times as sharp as those resolved by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Worried about pesticides on your fruit and vegetables? That’s understandable, but imagine the danger faced by the guy seated in the crop duster spraying the bug-killing concoctions, who’s also breathing in a fine mist of noxious chemicals. Now farmers are avoiding that danger by sending unmanned aircraft to handle the dirty work. The agricultural drones also give farmers bird’s-eye views of fields, letting them spot problems early.
Photo: TPG/Getty Images
This prototype lifeboat, meant to save residents of coastal areas in the event of a tsunami, was put on display outside the Japanese Transport Ministry, in Tokyo, earlier this month. The boat, likened to Noah’s ark, is designed to withstand violent impacts as a result of tidal waves and still remain upright. The 8.4-meter-long vessel, built by IHI Corp. with Japanese government funding, can accommodate up to 35 people for about a week.
Photo: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images
The Golden-I headset computer shown here is marketed to police and fire departments because of its ability to capture still images and video, detect the heat signatures of living things with infrared sensors, identify people with facial recognition software, scan license plates, and pull up a host of other information via a Wi-Fi connection. The gadget also lets wearers share what they’re seeing with other headset users via private networks.
Photo: Rex Features/AP Photo
Previously, when students at Colorado State University put their trays on conveyor belts to send their food scraps to the kitchen, the end of the line was actually a landfill, and the result was the potent greenhouse gas methane bubbling up into the atmosphere. Now the school is diverting tons of food waste to local water treatment plants where the methane is trapped by digesters and subsequently used to power the treatment plants.
Photo: RJL Sangosti/The Denver Post/Getty Images
Mommy, where do ears come from? Someday, an acceptable answer might be “From 3-D printers that use living cells as the raw materials.” In this case, researchers at Cornell University formed a customized replacement ear using a printed soft mold that had been injected with a collagen gel. The gel contained special cow cells that produce cartilage. After a few weeks, enough cartilage had grown to replace the collagen, leaving a flexible, natural-looking ear.
Photo: Lindsey France/Cornell University/AP Photo
This wind turbine, installed off the coast of Choshi, Japan, has recently begun delivering 2.4 megawatts to the power-starved region. A 2-MW turbine, off Kitakyushu, will start generating power by July. The addition of wind power comes as Japan attempts to compensate for the nuclear power that dominated the nation’s energy mix before the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.
Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The man in this photo just used his thumb to pay for a snack. He’s part of a 54-person trial group at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology that’s testing the use of a biometric technology called biocryptology. A quick swipe of a finger allows the system to generate a single-use code that represents the person’s fingerprint and the hemoglobin in his or her blood. A positive ID authorizes payment from an account without the need for cash, credit cards, or personal identification numbers.
Photo: Amber Hunt/AP Photo
This highly detailed model shows the results of a collaboration among physicians and engineers to restore parts of a patient’s face lost to cancer. After the patient was disfigured by the loss of his right eye, cheek bone, and upper jaw, Belgian anaplastologist Jan De Cubber and clinical engineers at Materialise, a Belgian 3-D printing firm, made new silicone and titanium parts that were modeled on the unaffected parts of the patient’s face.
Photo: Yves Herman/Reuters
Although electric vehicles are clean, quiet, and efficient, their drawbacks—limited range on a single charge and lengthy recharge times—have made many car buyers reluctant to purchase one. But this unit, a CHAdeMO quick charger from SGTE-Power, in Le Mans, France, alleviates the second problem by delivering 50 kilowatts of DC directly to an EV’s battery. The machine can boost a car’s depleted batteries to an 80 percent state of charge in less than 30 minutes.