Tiny Robot Grippers Dissolve Away in Your Body Once Their Job Is Done

As robots get small enough to easily swim around inside the human body, they'll soon be used to perform medical procedures all from within a patient. And researchers at Johns Hopkins University are making such an idea even more plausible with the development of tiny robotic grippers that will actually dissolve away… » 2/24/15 11:35am 2/24/15 11:35am

Electron Microscopes Can Reveal Filed-Off Serial Numbers

To make it difficult for law enforcement to trace stolen cars or weapons, thieves will usually grind off their metal vehicle identification numbers or serial numbers. And while techniques for trying to recover those numbers do exist, they're not as accurate as a new method developed by researchers at the National… » 2/23/15 2:30pm 2/23/15 2:30pm

Pinchable Headphone Cords That Control Your Music Are a Brilliant Idea

The limits of battery life means that dealing with cords and cables—instead of going completely wireless—is still our reality for at least a few more years. So researchers at MIT figure we should just start using them to our advantage as smart remotes and controllers, instead of just a means to transfer power and data. » 2/20/15 9:47am 2/20/15 9:47am

Color-Changing Rubber Sheets Show Areas of Extreme Stress When Stretched

Researchers at Japan's National Institute for Materials Science—or NIMS for short—have taken some inspiration from insects like beetles and butterflies to create a stretchable rubber-like material that changes color under stress. As the material is stretched, it moves through a spectrum of shimmering colors that can… » 2/12/15 11:25am 2/12/15 11:25am

"Spot" Is a Smaller (More Kickable) Version of Boston Dynamic's Big Dog

We haven't seen much of Boston Dynamic's four-legged self-balancing Big Dog robot since it was last spotted hurling cinder blocks in a lab. And that's maybe because the company's robotic geniuses have been hard at work building a smaller more agile version called Spot that weighs just 160 pounds so it can safely… » 2/09/15 3:30pm 2/09/15 3:30pm

Deep Web Search Engine Memex Fights Crime a Bit Like Minority Report

Exactly one year ago, DARPA announced a characteristically scifi-inspired mission: to create a search engine that could find things on the deep web that Google's crawlers would miss. The so-called Memex project is now well underway, and for the first time we're getting a look at the crime-fighting search engine in… » 2/09/15 12:40pm 2/09/15 12:40pm

Even Our Balloon Animals Will Soon Be Made By Robots

DARPA's ATLAS is an impressive feat of robotics engineering, but despite representing the bleeding edge of automatons, it's slow and clumsy when it comes to doing anything on its own. A better way to make a robot as skilled as a human is to simply put a human in complete control of it, manipulating it remotely like a… » 2/06/15 6:15pm 2/06/15 6:15pm

MIT's Well On Its Way To Perfecting Auto-Zipping Zippers

Sneaker freaks have their fingers crossed that Nike will be able to deliver power laces in time for when Back to the Future II predicted we'd all be wearing them. But what about the rest of our clothing? Who wants to be bothered zipping up a jacket when your shoes automatically lace themselves? So Adam Whiton and… » 2/06/15 4:21pm 2/06/15 4:21pm

Obama's Precision Medicine Plan Sounds Great—Unless It's an IT Nightmare

After teasing a "Precision Medicine Initiative" in his State of the Union address, President Obama today released the details of his $215 million plan: A massive database containing the genetic profiles and health records of at least a million volunteers. Genetics sequencing! Big data! These all sound like good… » 1/30/15 3:25pm 1/30/15 3:25pm

How Research Scientists Get Free Illegal Drugs from the Government 

On an obscure webpage that looks like it's been barely updated in the last decade there's a link to download a PDF with the unassuming name of "NDSP Catalog." Click it and you'll find pretty much every drug you can dream up: meth, cocaine, heroin, MDMA—nearly 800 compounds in all. Welcome to the scientist's stash of… » 1/28/15 1:05pm 1/28/15 1:05pm

Inflatable Stickies Make Building Robots as Easy as Arts and Crafts

In recent years, taking a simpler approach to science and engineering has paid off handsomely in certain fields. It's part of the reason there are now rovers exploring Mars, and many feel it will be the easiest way to make robots more commonplace. After all, what could be a simpler way to build an automaton than with… » 1/28/15 9:25am 1/28/15 9:25am

Batteries Made With Bulletproof Kevlar Fibers May Never Explode

One of the most common reasons that batteries explode and catch fire—like on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner—is because over time small conductive pathways grow inside the battery's inner structure that eventually cause it to short out with disastrous results. But Nicholas Kotov, a professor at the University of Michigan, and… » 1/27/15 8:15am 1/27/15 8:15am

Scientists Can Now Unboil Eggs to Hopefully Make Cancer Drugs Cheaper

It sounds like research that doesn't have much more of a practical application than making people say "neat," but chemists at UC Irvine have figured out a way to unboil egg whites—turning them from a solid back into a liquid—and the process behind it promises to help lower the production cost of cancer drugs and other… » 1/26/15 12:30pm 1/26/15 12:30pm

This Destructive 3D Printer Is the Closest We've Come to Teleportation

Many equate the 3D printer as being the earliest form of a real-life teleporter—or transporter, if you prefer to get your science from Star Trek. The only problem is that you're not actually moving an object from point A to point B, you're just creating a duplicate somewhere else. So "Scotty" might actually be the… » 1/22/15 8:32am 1/22/15 8:32am

A New, Cutting-Edge Microscope Technique That Uses Diaper Absorbent

Up until now, most microscopy has operated on a pretty simple principle: Use tricks of light to make small things appear big. A group of MIT scientists, however, are trying something radically different. They've developed a technique that physically makes tiny neurons bigger, and yes, it uses a chemical commonly found… » 1/12/15 2:51pm 1/12/15 2:51pm