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  • News

    A new ultrafast laser emits pulses of light 30 billion times a second

    Blazingly fast lasers have just leveled up.

    Ultrafast lasers emit short, rapid-fire bursts of light, with each pulse typically lasting tens of millionths of a billionth of a second. A new laser pulses 30 billion times a second — about 100 times as fast as most ultrafast lasers, researchers report in the Sept. 28 Science.

    The speed boost was thanks to a new technique for making...

    10/05/2018 - 07:00 Physics, Technology
  • News in Brief

    This reflective paint could keep sunbaked buildings cool

    A new polymer-based paint that reflects nearly all incoming sunlight could help keep buildings, cars, airplanes and other sunbaked structures cool.

    This polymer paint, described online September 27 in Science, can be applied to various surfaces, including plastics, metals and wood. It also could be fashioned into recyclable tarpaulins for covering homes, cars or other enclosed spaces....

    09/28/2018 - 09:00 Materials, Technology, Sustainability
  • News

    Laser mapping shows the surprising complexity of the Maya civilization

    A laser-shooting eye in the sky has revealed the previously unappreciated size and complexity of ancient Maya civilization, both before and during its presumed heyday, scientists say.

    Maya people in what’s now northern Guatemala built surprisingly extensive defensive structures and roads as part of political systems featuring interconnected cities, starting at least several hundred years...

    09/27/2018 - 14:22 Archaeology, Technology
  • News

    Fiberglass-spinning robots could be construction workers of the future

    Much like a silkworm uses a single thread to swaddle itself in a cocoon, a new kind of robot spins a single strand of material around its body to build custom-shaped fiberglass structures.

    The new robots could create customized construction materials on-site, unlike other industrious bots that assemble premade building blocks (SN: 3/22/14, p. 8). Fleets of the fiberglass-spinning bots...

    09/26/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology
  • Feature

    Anshumali Shrivastava uses AI to wrangle torrents of data

    Anshumali Shrivastava, 33Computer ScienceRice University

    The world is awash in data, and Anshumali Shrivastava may save us from drowning in it.

    Every day, over 1 billion photos are posted online. In a single second, the Large Hadron Collider can churn out a million gigabytes of observations. Big data is ballooning faster than current computer programs can analyze it.

    “We have...

    09/26/2018 - 08:28 Artificial Intelligence, Numbers, Technology
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers contemplate water on Mars and more

    Life signs

    Scientists estimate that there are roughly 10 billion liters of liquid water beneath a polar glacier on Mars, Lisa Grossman reported in “Mars (probably) has a lake of liquid water” (SN: 8/18/18 & 9/1/18, p. 6).

    Some online readers wondered what the detection meant for the possibility of life on the Red Planet.

    Grossman wrote about the lake’s implications for life...

    09/26/2018 - 07:00 Planetary Science, Pollution, Technology
  • Teaser

    These new superthin antennas are made from metallic nanomaterials

    A new design for lightweight, flexible antennas, made from metallic 2-D materials, could one day be used connect household appliances and wearable devices to the internet (SN: 6/9/18, p. 18).

    Researchers created the antennas, described online September 21 in Science Advances, using a water-based ink containing 1-nanometer-thick flakes of titanium carbide. The ink can be sprayed, painted...

    09/21/2018 - 14:00 Technology
  • News

    High-tech ‘skins’ turn everyday objects into robots

    A new type of soft robot gets its power from the skin it’s in.

    Robotic skin that bends, stretches and contracts can wrap around inanimate objects like stuffed animals, foam tubes or balloons to create flexible, lightweight robots. Removable, reusable sheets of this artificial skin, described online September 19 in Science Robotics, could also be used to build grippers or wearable devices...

    09/19/2018 - 14:00 Materials, Robotics, Technology
  • For Daily Use

    A sensor inspired by an African thumb piano could root out bogus medicines

    Identifying faulty drugs or diagnosing kidney problems could one day be as simple as playing an instrument and analyzing the sound.

    An inexpensive, handheld tool inspired by an ancient African instrument called an mbira, or thumb piano, can distinguish between liquids of different densities, researchers report online September 12 in ACS Omega. That could help pharmacists and consumers...

    09/18/2018 - 11:10 Technology, Health
  • News

    Here’s how graphene could make future electronics superfast

    Graphene just added another badge to its supermaterial sash.

    New experiments show that this single layer of carbon atoms can transform electronic signals at gigahertz frequencies into higher-frequency terahertz signals — which can shuttle up to 1,000 times as much information per second.

    Electromagnetic waves in the terahertz range are notoriously difficult to create, and...

    09/11/2018 - 12:00 Materials, Technology