The material science of building a light sail to take us to Alpha Centauri


It has been about two years since Yuri Milner announced his most audacious piece of science-focused philanthropy: Breakthrough Starshot, an attempt to send hardware to Alpha Centauri by mid-century. Although the technology involved is a reasonable extrapolation of things we already know how to make, being able to create materials and technology that create that extrapolation is a serious challenge. So much of Breakthrough Starshot’s early funding has gone to figuring out what improvements on current technology are needed.

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The history of Electronic Books.


An Electronic Book or E-Book as they are universally known, is a text-based publication in digital form.  While they may contain images and graphs of some kind, mostly their formats lead them to be text-based.

E-books are designed to be read off an electronically compatible device either an IReader, a Kindle EReader, tablet or personal computer.   While E-Books are the actual text and document being read, an E-Reader is the device that makes this possible.  E-books are stored as electronic files, they are small and easy to share and purchase.

They are convenient, light and have a huge storage capacity, that allows for incredible travel reading, electronic notes, and character summaries.  However, they were not always like this.

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How to create your very own 3D printer.

3d printer

Swedish inventor Torbjørn Ludvigsen has spent the last three years developing a new kind of large-format 3D printer that can build furniture-sized objects in any room — surprisingly easily and relatively cheaply. Ludvigsen’s invention, the Hangprinter, employs a system of wires and computer-controlled pulleys anchored to the walls, floor, and ceiling. Once installed, the Hangprinter essentially uses the room itself as a casing.

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Artificial ‘skin’ gives robotic hand a sense of touch

robotic skin

A team of researchers from the University of Houston has reported a breakthrough in stretchable electronics that can serve as an artificial skin, allowing a robotic hand to sense the difference between hot and cold, while also offering advantages for a wide range of biomedical devices.

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An amazing new technology which cools water without using any electricity.


It looks like a regular roof, but the top of the Packard Electrical Engineering Building at Stanford University has been the setting of many milestones in the development of an innovative cooling technology that could someday be part of our everyday lives. Since 2013, Shanhui Fan, professor of electrical engineering, and his students and research associates have employed this roof as a testbed for a high-tech mirror-like optical surface that could be the future of lower-energy air conditioning and refrigeration.

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A fascinating article about “rotor sails”, a new, more efficient way to power ocean-going ships.


Early next year, a tanker vessel owned by Maersk, the Danish transportation conglomerate, and a passenger ship owned by Viking Cruises will be outfitted with spinning cylinders on their decks. Mounted vertically and up to 10 stories tall, these “rotor sails” could slash fuel consumption up to 10%, saving transportation companies hundreds of thousands of dollars and cutting soot-causing carbon emissions by thousands of tons per trip.

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New electronics that biodegrade when they’re no longer needed.


Engineers have built a new type of gadget that doesn’t look like most others. It’s stretchy, thin and so light that a human hair can lift it. It’s made from cheap, nontoxic materials. It can also vanish. After a month in acid — even just kitchen vinegar — the device is gone.

Chemical engineer Ting Lei helped design the innovation. He works in the lab of engineer Zhenan Bao at Stanford University in California. “We’re focusing on low-cost sensors for flexible electronics,” Lei says. For about five years, Bao’s group has been studying materials that can break down naturally.

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Nanowires made from silver are super stretchy



This naturally occurring chunk of silver came from Michigan. Scientists used much, much smaller pieces of silver to make surprisingly stretchy nanowires.


Many metals can be fashioned into wires. You just have to stretch out a piece of the metal until it’s long and thin. Keep pulling, and the wire will eventually break. But new research reveals that when wires are extremely small, they can be super-stretchy. That’s especially true when they’re made of a single crystal of silver and stretched slowly. These wires can stretch to almost three times their original length before they snap, new data show.

And that’s a big deal for engineers. They could use that sort of stretchiness to design flexible electronics that resist damage.

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A potential amazing new medical diagnostic tool powered by the user’s touch.


A new medical-diagnostic device made out of paper detects biomarkers and identifies diseases by performing electrochemical analyses — powered only by the user’s touch — and reads out the color-coded test results, making it easy for non-experts to understand

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