Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Travel by Plane That Does Not Stop For Fuel- Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse had a test flight this week for a non-stop 26+ hours. The plane used solar cells instead of conventional petroleum fuel for energy. Isn’t it amazing? It looks as though we may be able to go green in the sky!

André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, expertly piloted the aircraft with its 64 meter wingspan. The long wingspan enables improved aerodynamic efficiency and greater surface area on which to place solar cells.

The maximum speed reached was 68 knots (ground speed) with an average speed of 23 knots.

At present the plane's cockpit is very small and can only accommodate one pilot. Even if found commercially feasible, it may be a while before this might fly over American cities carrying passengers. Well, Wright brothers did not have more people in their maiden flight either.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Paper That Folds by Itself to Plane or Boat- It is No Magic, Watch it Happens

Have you seen a paper fold itself into a plane or boat. That is what the scientists at Harvard and MIT invented - a programmable matter by folding.

It might remind you of Origami. In fact the program relied on the ancient art of origami. In the video below you will see how a single thin sheet composed of interconnected triangular sections could transform itself into a boat or plane-shape - all without the help of skilled fingers.
The sheet, a thin composite of rigid tiles and elastomer joints, is studded with thin foil actuators (motorized switches) and flexible electronics.

The senior authors on the study were Robert J. Wood, associate professor of electrical engineering at the Harvard and Daniela Rus, a professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department at MIT. The fancy folding techniques were inspired in part by the work of co-author Erik Dermaine, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and one of the world's most recognized experts on computational origami. The recent was published in the most recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, also known as PNAS.

"Smart sheets are Origami Robots that will make any shape on demand for their user," says Rus. "A big achievement was discovering the theoretical foundations and universality of folding and fold planning, which provide the brain and the decision making system for the smart sheet."

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This news item was adapted from the science news online publication

No Tattoos or Genital Piercing for Minors in Minnesota

In Minnesota, minors can no longer get tattoos or pierced genitals, regardless of whether they have a parent's permission.

Florida outlaws personal ownership of Burmese pythons and other reptiles, and cracks down on horse thieves!

People with permits to carry concealed weapons can carry guns into restaurants that serve alcohol in Virginia and New Mexico.

Ohio will require insurance plans governed by state law to offer parents the chance to buy coverage for their children up to age 28, going beyond the federal law.

These interesting laws coming into effect on July 1 were reported in yahoo news today.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wash liver with soap before transplatation to boost graft survival?

A group of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital used a gentle detergent on liver for 3 days to remove cells and leave a scaffold with the architecture of the original liver tissue. After this process they transferred good liver cells back into the matrix and found that this works quite well.

Complete news story is availble at the Science news website.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Challenge Ideas Invited for Oil Spill Clean Up- Millions in Prize

Multimillion dollar prize for winning idea! The X Prize Foundation announced today that it is developing a multimillion-dollar “oil spill cleanup X challenge” to come up with solutions to cleaning up shorelines and open water fouled by oil leaking from the BP Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
More of this news available at CNN

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Organ on Chip- A Lung-on-Chip to Test Drugs!

It might sound like a fiction, to put an organ on a chip! Harvard biologists recently developed a lung on chip tool. They speculate that this can be used to test the effect of drugs and other agents before going to clinical trial.

Biopharmaceutical companies spend millions in the discovery of drugs. This kind of tools can cut down the cost.
This may also provide more valuable information on how human lungs responds, without testing on humans.

When we breathe oxygen enters blood through a three-layer interface of lung cells. The lung-on-a-chip microdevice takes a new approach to tissue engineering by placing two layers of living tissues-the lining of the lung's air sacs and the blood vessels that surround them-across a porous, flexible boundary. Air is delivered to the lung lining cells, a rich culture medium flows in the capillary channel to mimic blood and cyclic mechanical stretching mimics breathing. The device was created using a novel microfabrication strategy that uses clear rubbery materials.

More information on this news can be found at the science news website

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BP Well Cannot be Plugged?

Well Pipe Below the Sea Floor Broken? Keith Olbermann show says the BP well is essentially unstoppable. Is this correct? He says the broken well tilting 10-12 degree may be due to this structural problem. See the video.

Keith's program of June 23, 2010 can be viewed on MSNBC website