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  • News in Brief

    Spherical flames in space could solve the mystery of soot-free fires

    Solving this burning question requires starting fires in space.

    Ongoing experiments on the International Space Station could help resolve a scientific debate about why some fires burn without producing soot. Made of carbon particles created when fuel fails to burn completely, soot is a pollutant. The particles are linked to health issues, including cancer (SN: 8/4/07, p. 69), and...

    05/23/2019 - 09:00 Physics, Technology
  • Feature

    The search for new geologic sources of lithium could power a clean future

    The future of lithium is electrifying. Cars and trucks powered by lithium batteries rather than fossil fuels are, to many people, the future of transportation. Rechargeable lithium batteries are also crucial for storing energy produced by solar and wind power, clean energy sources that are a beacon of hope for a world worried about the rapidly changing global climate.

    Prospecting for new...

    05/07/2019 - 14:09 Earth, Technology, Sustainability
  • News

    Facebook data show how many people left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

    Hurricane Maria sent Puerto Ricans fleeing from the island to the U.S. mainland, but population surveys to assess the size of that migration would have taken at least a year to complete. A new study suggests, however, that a Facebook tool for advertisers could provide crude, real-time estimates for how many people are moving because of a natural disaster. That could help governments design...

    05/03/2019 - 07:00 Science & Society, Technology, Computing
  • News

    How scientists took the first picture of a black hole

    Black holes are extremely camera shy. Supermassive black holes, ensconced in the centers of galaxies, make themselves visible by spewing bright jets of charged particles or by flinging away or ripping up nearby stars. Up close, these behemoths are surrounded by glowing accretion disks of infalling material. But because a black hole’s extreme gravity prevents light from escaping, the dark...

    04/10/2019 - 09:57 Astronomy, Physics, Technology
  • News

    Blood vessels built from a patient’s cells could help people on dialysis

    Bioengineered blood vessels are one step closer to being available for patients.

    In clinical trials, these vessels were installed in the arms of dialysis patients and successfully integrated into their circulatory systems, researchers report online March 27 in Science Translational Medicine. The new blood vessels, which eventually host the patient’s own cells after implantation, are...

    03/27/2019 - 14:01 Clinical Trials, Biomedicine, Technology
  • News in Brief

    An origami design helps this robot lift delicate and heavy cargo

    A new robotic gripper is a strong “hand” with a soft touch.

    The bell-shaped gripper has a silicone rubber skeleton with an intricate origami design, wrapped in an airtight, latex rubber skin. When a vacuum sucks air out of the gripper, the skin constricts, forcing the origami skeleton to collapse into a narrow funnel. The bunched-up gripper’s ridged interior and rough latex skin help it...

    03/14/2019 - 00:05 Robotics, Technology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Nine companies are steering the future of artificial intelligence

    The Big NineAmy WebbPublicAffairs, $27

    Whether artificial intelligence is humankind’s best friend or greatest threat has been widely debated. We’ve all heard promises of device-studded smart homes conferring unprecedented convenience, as well as warnings of killer robots. The Big Nine is a different kind of story about the potential risks and rewards of AI.

    Rather than...

    03/12/2019 - 14:38 Science & Society, Technology, Artificial Intelligence
  • 50 years ago, doctors lamented a dearth of organ donors

    Number of donors drops —

    Both laymen and surgeons have become faint-hearted about heart transplants.… The rejection and infection problems remain unsolved, and although Dr. [Denton A.] Cooley has performed the greatest number of transplants in the world, he has had to stop operating for lack of donors. — Science News, March 15, 1969

    Update

    Candidates for heart or other organ...

    03/12/2019 - 06:00 Biomedicine, Cells, Technology
  • News in Brief

    Japan puts plans for the world’s next big particle collider on hold

    Physicists awaiting approval to build the world’s first “Higgs factory” will have to wait a while longer.

    Japan had been expected to decide by March 7 whether it would host the International Linear Collider — a particle smasher that would produce subatomic particles called Higgs bosons far more efficiently than CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Instead, Japanese officials encouraged the...

    03/07/2019 - 12:32 Physics, Technology
  • Feature

    Nanosponges sop up toxins and help repair tissues

    To take his fledgling lab to new heights, Liangfang Zhang hatched a plan that he considered brilliant in its simplicity. It involved procedures that many of his peers found a little out there. But if he could make his idea work, it would clear a major hurdle to safely ferry therapies through the body on nanoparticles one-thousandth the width of a human hair.

    Yet back in 2010, the young...

    03/07/2019 - 07:00 Biomedicine, Technology