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E.g., 11/13/2018
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  • Science Stats

    Car tires and brake pads produce harmful microplastics

    There’s a big problem where the rubber meets the road: microplastics.

    Scientists analyzed more than 500 small particles pulled from the air around three busy German highways, and found that the vast majority — 89 percent — came from vehicle tires, brake systems and roads themselves. All together, these particles are classified by the researchers as microplastics, though they include...

    11/12/2018 - 08:38 Pollution, Technology
  • News

    These fragile, futuristic batteries run longer with a little oil

    Batteries that use aluminum and oxygen normally live fast and die young. But a new design could help these high-energy devices endure.

    Aluminum-air batteries are promising candidates for a new generation of non-rechargeable batteries, because they’re super lightweight and compact. The batteries, however, aren’t widely used because their internal components quickly degrade each other. In...

    11/08/2018 - 14:00 Chemistry, Technology
  • News

    Virtual avatars learned cartwheels and other stunts from videos of people

    Animated characters can learn from online tutorials, too.

    A new computer program teaches virtual avatars new skills, such as dances, acrobatic stunts and martial art moves, from YouTube videos. This kind of system, described in the November ACM Transactions on Graphics, could render more physically coordinated characters for movies and video games, or serve as a virtual training ground...

    11/05/2018 - 14:09 Computing, Technology
  • Editor's Note

    Screen time to heal, and perhaps to harm

    In any given year, nearly 20 percent of U.S. adults, more than 40 million people, have to contend with a mental illness. Getting treatment is often a struggle; fewer than half of those affected get any sort of care, which can be especially hard to find in rural and underserved communities.

    Virtual reality may seem like the least likely technology to address the lack of mental health...

    11/04/2018 - 06:15 Science & Society, Technology, Neuroscience
  • News

    Vanadium dioxide’s weird phase transition just got weirder

    For the first time, researchers have gotten a detailed view of how atoms in a compound called vanadium dioxide move when an ultrafast laser pulse transforms the material from an electrical insulator to a conductor — and it’s nothing like scientists expected.

    Rather than switching from one crystal formation to another in a direct, synchronized manner, like choreographed ballerinas, the...

    11/01/2018 - 14:00 Physics, Materials, Technology
  • Feature

    Virtual reality therapy has real-life benefits for some mental disorders

    Edwin adjusted his headset and gripped the game controller in both hands. He swallowed hard. The man had good reason to be nervous. He was about to enter a virtual environment tailor-made to get his heart pumping way more than any action-packed video game: a coffee shop full of people.

    Determined to overcome his persistent fear that other people want to hurt him, Edwin had enrolled in a...

    11/01/2018 - 08:24 Technology, Mental Health
  • News in Brief

    A new robot decides how and when to transform to get the job done

    A robot made of several smaller robotic pieces can autonomously transform its body into shapes best suited for a particular task. 

    The bot primarily consists of wheeled, cubic “modules” that link up with one another using magnets, forming a small assortment of body types reminiscent of cars or snakes. The brains of the operation reside in a specialized module equipped with cameras and a...

    10/31/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology
  • News in Brief

    A new palm-sized drone is mini, but mighty

    A new type of mini drone can pull a lot more than its own weight.

    The drone latches onto a surface and uses a cable to reel in objects up to 40 times its mass, researchers report. This feat is a marked improvement over other flying robots, which generally can’t tote objects heavier than about their own weight (SN: 2/7/15, p. 18). The new palm-sized flyer, described October 24 in Science...

    10/24/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology
  • News

    Artificial intelligence crowdsources data to speed up drug discovery

    A new cryptographic system could allow pharmaceutical companies and academic labs to work together to develop new medications more quickly — without revealing any confidential data to their competitors.

    The centerpiece of this computing system is an artificial intelligence program known as a neural network. The AI studies information about which drugs interact with various proteins in...

    10/18/2018 - 14:00 Artificial Intelligence, Biomedicine, Technology
  • 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