The Cool Promise of Machines That Run on Body Heat

The human body at rest radiates 100 watts of heat—heat that does nothing other than make crowded rooms stuffy. But body heat can be converted to electricity, and new technology is always improving the process. With the rise of wearables, the body heat-powered device becomes an ever more tantalizing promise. » 4/14/14 1:00pm Monday 1:00pm

This Synthetic Mother of Pearl Is Ten Times Tougher Than Ceramics

Ceramics are an increasingly common material to work with—from hard-wearing bearings to heat-proof cladding on spacecraft—but they all share one fatal weakness: they're fragile. Now, though, inspired by nature, researchers are making a ceramic that mimics mother of pearl—and is ten times stronger than normal ceramics. » 3/25/14 4:00pm 3/25/14 4:00pm

Amazing Aerogel: Eight Looks at the Ghostly Supermaterial in Action

Aerogel must be one of the strangest supermaterials to ever exist. Ghostly and shimmering in appearance, it's insanely light, incredibly strong, and an amazing thermal insulator. And its tricks look absolutely impossible when you see them up close. » 3/21/14 10:00am 3/21/14 10:00am

The History of Invisibility and the Future of Camouflage

In 2004, the U.S. Army made a colossal mistake. It introduced a new digital camouflage called the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), a single pattern designed to work across all environments. Only a few months later, however, as the war in Iraq was intensifying by the day, every soldier on the ground knew the truth:… » 1/27/14 1:02pm 1/27/14 1:02pm

These Intricate Collars Look Like Fish Bones, Are Actually 3D-Printed

These complex collars look like like they're made from freaky shark jaws or the skeleton of some crazy underwater menace, but they were actually borne directly from a 3D printer. MadLab designer Madeline Gannon did start with an aquatic inspiration, though—the virtual movement of a digital squid. » 1/23/14 5:20pm 1/23/14 5:20pm

What Happens When Water Freezes in a Box So Strong It Can’t Expand?

Some readers may recall a science class in which an excitable teacher walked to the front of the class to show off a small, cracked steel container, seemingly damaged by an incredibly powerful, but tiny force; only for said teacher to reveal that the damage had been done by nothing more than water. However, what would… » 1/14/14 6:40am 1/14/14 6:40am

The 38 Most Interesting Designs of 2013

Welcome to the end of another year, people! We made it, and not without a ton of brand new stuff to carry us into 2014 and beyond. We saw lots of beautiful, interesting, and just plain weird things, but here we've rounded up the items that stuck with us; not just because of what they are, but also because of how they… » 12/31/13 9:00am 12/31/13 9:00am

Move Over Graphene: The Wonder Conductor of the Future May Be Stanene

When it comes to super materials, graphene seems to get all the attention. But a team of researchers has developed Stanene: a single layer of tin atoms that could just be the world’s first material to conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency at the temperatures that computers work at. » 11/25/13 8:00am 11/25/13 8:00am