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How We Keep 'New Telescope Smell' From Killing Space Telescopes

Like new cars, new telescopes come with their own unique smell. Unlike cars, telescopes are delicate enough that this smell can damage the high-precision instruments, killing them with their own outgassing. Here’s how NASA protects fragile space telescopes from themselves. » 7/12/15 10:40am 7/12/15 10:40am

A Weird New Supercooled Material Crystallizes and Glows When Touched

Perhaps you’re familiar with the strangeness of supercooled water: It stays liquid well below water’s freezing point until you give it a whack, and bam, it suddenly turns into solid ice. You’re probably less familiar diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP) derivatives, which has similar but also odder properties. » 5/13/15 8:20pm 5/13/15 8:20pm

Finally, a Lithium Battery That Warns You Before It Bursts Into Flames

Lithium ion batteries are wonderful things, but they're unfortunately given to short circuiting and bursting into flames every now and then. It's extraordinarily rare, but it happens. A Stanford research team thinks they've solved this little big problem by building an early warning system into an existing battery.… » 10/13/14 11:46am 10/13/14 11:46am

7 New Materials That Could Change How Our Buildings Act

The gap between material science and actual construction is very far and very wide. It can take decades to move a breakthrough in engineering from a lab to a building site. But as architects and engineers face bigger challenges—from earthquakes to dwindling resources to sheer cost—a new generation of smart materials… » 8/25/14 9:00am 8/25/14 9:00am

Why NASA Launched One of the Blackest Materials Ever Made Into Space

A few years ago, we looked at NASA's long project to design a paint so black, it would absorb nearly every bit of light around it (that's it above, in the "D" spot). Now, NASA has finally launched the stuff into space—which means that the six-year effort to make it is finally paying off. So, why is this such a vital… » 8/22/14 10:25am 8/22/14 10:25am

IBM Lab Accidentally Makes New Type of Super-Strong, Recyclable Polymer

Strong, durable materials are hard to recycle—they're designed to stand up to abuse. But research chemists at an IBM laboratory just published their discovery of a never-before-seen family of polymers that's super strong, self-healing, lightweight, and easy to recycle. And it was discovered completely by accident. » 5/16/14 11:00am 5/16/14 11:00am

Watch GE Torture-Test Supermaterials in the Most Vicious Ways

The heat of an active volcano. A 5,000 pound weight dropped from above. A sandstorm that lasts ten years. These are just some of the ways GE torture-tests the super-strong materials that go into jet engines, wind turbines, and more. And thanks to the company's fascinating YouTube channel, we get an up-close view of… » 4/22/14 11:56am 4/22/14 11:56am

Bees To Humans: We'll Make Hives Out Of Your Plastic Trash

It's hard to be a bee these days, what with the sinister—and still mysterious—Colony Collapse Disorder decimating millions of hives over the past decade. But a few highly resourceful Canadian species have started adapting new nesting techniques, using plain old everyday plastic garbage to build their homes. » 2/12/14 10:40am 2/12/14 10:40am