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Nanowire battery can hold 10 times the charge of existing lithium-ion battery Stanford Report, December 18, 2007 Courtesy Nature Nanotechnology Photos taken by a scanning electron microscope of silicon nanowires before (left) and after (right) absorbing lithium. Stanford researchers have found a way to use silicon nanowires to reinvent the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, iPods, video cameras, cell phones, and countless other devices. The new technology, developed through research led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion, known as Li-ion, batteries. "It's not a small improvement," Cui said. The breakthrough is described in a paper, "High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires," published online Dec. 16 in Nature Nanotechnology, written by Cui, his graduate chemistry student Candace Chan and five others. The greatly expanded storage capacity could make Li-ion batteries attractive to electric car manufacturers.

Serious Flaw Emerges In Quantum Cryptography The problem of sending messages securely has troubled humankind since the dawn of civilisation and probably before. In recent years, however, physicists have raised expectations that this problem has been solved by the invention of quantum key distribution. This exploits the strange quantum property of entanglement to guarantee the secrecy of a message. Entanglement is so fragile that any eavesdropper cannot help but break it, revealing the ruse. So-called quantum key distribution is unconditionally secure–it offers perfect secrecy guaranteed by the laws of physics. Or at least that’s what everyone thought. For example, lasers that are supposed to send one photon at a time can sometimes send several and this allows information to leak to an eavesdropper. Last year, we discussed another trick used by a group of quantum hackers to eavesdrop on a commercial quantum cryptography system. Here’s the problem. Of course, there are a couple of simple ways round this new problem. Correction:

FUCK YEAH NERVOUS SYSTEM “Your worst enemy, he reflected, was your nervous system. At any moment the tension inside you was liable to translate itself into some visible symptom.” Bees Solve Hard Computing Problems Faster Than Supercomputers We already know bees are pretty good at facial recognition, and researchers have shown they can also be effective air-quality monitors. Here's one more reason to keep them around: They're smarter than computers. Bumblebees can solve the classic "traveling salesman" problem, which keeps supercomputers busy for days. They learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they find the flowers in a different order, according to a new British study. The traveling salesman problem is an (read: very hard) problem in computer science; it involves finding the shortest possible route between cities, visiting each city only once. Bees need lots of energy to fly, so they seek the most efficient route among networks of hundreds of flowers. To test bee problem-solving, researchers Lars Chittka and Mathieu Lihoreau tested bees' response to computer-controlled artificial flowers.

Through a glass, clearly One of the most instantly recognizable features of glass is the way it reflects light. But a new way of creating surface textures on glass, developed by researchers at MIT, virtually eliminates reflections, producing glass that is almost unrecognizable because of its absence of glare — and whose surface causes water droplets to bounce right off, like tiny rubber balls. The new “multifunctional” glass, based on surface nanotextures that produce an array of conical features, is self-cleaning and resists fogging and glare, the researchers say. Ultimately, they hope it can be made using an inexpensive manufacturing process that could be applied to optical devices, the screens of smartphones and televisions, solar panels, car windshields and even windows in buildings. Photovoltaic panels, Park explains, can lose as much as 40 percent of their efficiency within six months as dust and dirt accumulate on their surfaces.

Laws of physics vary throughout the universe, new study suggests A team of astrophysicists based in Australia and England has uncovered evidence that the laws of physics are different in different parts of the universe. The team -- from the University of New South Wales, Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Cambridge -- has submitted a report of the discovery for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters. A preliminary version of the paper is currently under peer review. The report describes how one of the supposed fundamental constants of Nature appears not to be constant after all. "After measuring alpha in around 300 distant galaxies, a consistency emerged: this magic number, which tells us the strength of electromagnetism, is not the same everywhere as it is here on Earth, and seems to vary continuously along a preferred axis through the universe," Professor John Webb from the University of New South Wales said. "The implications for our current understanding of science are profound.

These Skyscrapers Will Clean Pollution From The Surrounding Water And Air Two towers almost a kilometer high have been announced for Wuhan, China. But they won't just be special because of their height - the towers will actually clean the polluted lake next to which they will sit. At 830m high the Burj Khalifa has been the world's tallest building since 2010. However, these days that record seldom lasts long. UK architects Chetwoods are proposing to go for the full 1000m. Tall buildings require a lot of power, particularly for lifts, but Adele Peters of business magazine Fast Company reports “Wind turbines, lightweight solar cladding, and hydrogen fuel cells running on the buildings’ waste will generate all of the power used by the towers, plus a little extra for the rest of the neighbourhood.” Moreover, the designers propose to tackle Wuhan's notorious pollution. “The water goes up through a series of filters,” explains architect Laurie Chetwood.

Tooth decay to be a thing of the past? Enzyme responsible for dental plaque sticking to teeth deciphered The Groningen professors Bauke Dijkstra and Lubbert Dijkhuizen have deciphered the structure and functional mechanism of the glucansucrase enzyme that is responsible for dental plaque sticking to teeth. This knowledge will stimulate the identification of substances that inhibit the enzyme. Just add that substance to toothpaste, or even sweets, and caries will be a thing of the past. The results of the research have been published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The University of Groningen researchers analysed glucansucrase from the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri, which is present in the human mouth and digestive tract. Three dimensional structure Using protein crystallography, the researchers were able to elucidate the three dimensional (3D) structure of the enzyme. Functional mechanism The unravelling of the 3D structure provided the researchers with detailed insight into the functional mechanism of the enzyme. Inhibitors

Smartphone Biosensor Devised to Detect Toxins, Pathogens | Science Business Biosensor smartphone and cradle (Brian Cunningham, University of Illinois) Engineers at University of Illinois in Urbana created a system harnessing an iPhone’s camera to turn the phone into a biosensor that can detect proteins, bacteria, viruses, and toxins. The team led by engineering professor and entrepreneur Brian Cunningham published its findings in a recent online issue of the journal Lab on a Chip (paid subscription required). The biosensor is based on the ability of photonic crystals to alter the frequency of light, which are then captured by the smartphone’s camera. In the case of the Illinois sensor, biological material — e.g., proteins or bacteria — binds to the photonic crystal, altering the reflected light frequency from a shorter to longer wave length, and changing color accordingly. The technician inserts the slide with the specimen sample into the cradle and the reflected light spectrum is measured. Read more:

Quantum Computing: Will It Be a Leap in Human Evolution? Quantum computers have the potential to solve problems that would take a classical computer longer than the age of the universe. Oxford Professor David Deutsch, quantum-computing pioneer, who wrote in his controversial masterpiece, Fabric of Reality says: "quantum computers can efficiently render every physically possible quantum environment, even when vast numbers of universes are interacting. Quantum computers can also efficiently solve certain mathematical problems, such as factorization, which are classically intractable, and can implement types of cryptography which are classically impossible. Quantum computation is a qualitatively new way of harnessing nature." Quantum computing sounds like science fiction -as satellites, moon shots, and the original microprocessor once were. But the age of computing in not even at the end of the beginning. And the development of a silicon based "quantum computer" may be only just over the horizon. Casey Kazan via University College London

Bionic-Arch is a Futuristic Green Skyscraper for Taichung / Vincent Callebaut For the hundredth birthday of the creation of “Taiwan R.O.C.”, the main aim of the Taichung City Government is to honour the local building traditions and symbolize the new Taiwan dynamics into economic, political, social and cultural achievements. International model of the green building of the 21st century, the innovative and pioneering design of the Bionic Arch by Vincent Callebaut Architecture is part of the new master plan “Taichung Gateway – Active Gateway City”, the future urban oasis for lifestyle, innovation, culture and biodiversity in the heart of Central Taiwan. The green tower combines and surpasses the nine major indicators defining a green building by law, and intensifies the relation between the building site and the surrounding Taichung Gateway Park, including an environmental integration of the park and the green land, the integration of green vertical platforms, sky gardens and living façades, interaction between human and natural environments.

How to Hold Your Breath Like David Blaine, World Record Holder (and Now, Me) Last night, world-famous magician and endurance artist David Blaine taught me how to hold my breath. For four months, David held the Guinness world record for oxygen-assisted static apnea (holding your breath after breathing pure oxygen): 17 minutes and 4.4 seconds. His record was then surpassed by Tom Sietas on September 19, 2008. David’s record for doing what I’ll describe is between 7 and 8 minutes. I was born premature and, unlike David, I couldn’t then remember the last time I held my breath for more than one minute. What were the results of his training? My first baseline test: 40 seconds. 15 minutes later: 3 minutes and 33 seconds (!!!). Out of roughly 12 TEDMED attendees he also taught, all but one beat Harry Houdini’s lifelong record of 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Here’s how we did it… The David Blaine Method First and foremost, this is not a joke. Moving onward to the method, which we did seated. These notes were taken on a scrap of paper while performing the exercises. Definitions:

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