research

1,024 robot flash-mob is cleverer when swarming

1,024 robot flash-mob is cleverer when swarming

If you've ever wanted to see more than a thousand robots working together to create letters of the alphabet, Sesame Street style, today you're in luck. A robot swarm - the Harvard University team responsible also refers to it as a flash mob, which perhaps sounds a little less ominous - has been created to show how individually dumb 'bots can work intelligently when given the right tools, borrowing methods from biological systems like cells or even termites.

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3D-printed skin grafts are poised to transform reconstructive surgery

3D-printed skin grafts are poised to transform reconstructive surgery

When it comes to 3D printing, most people think of common objects, both large and small: houses, toys, tools, and such. But researchers have been busy at work using the technology for medical purposes, figuring out how to do things like print eye cells and create futuristic casts. TeVido BioDevices is counted amongst this latter category, working on 3D-printing skin grafts for patients.

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NASA probe may have captured ancient interstellar space dust

NASA probe may have captured ancient interstellar space dust

Microscopic dust particles that could date back to the very start of our solar system have been extracted from NASA's Stardust spacecraft payload, promising to be the first contemporary samples of interstellar dust. Stardust returned its collection of stellar detritus back in 2006, and thus began a painstaking sift through the particles to see what goodies had been gathered during the three billion mile journey.

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The real Ender’s Game: DARPA kids testing tomorrow’s MIL-TEC

The real Ender’s Game: DARPA kids testing tomorrow’s MIL-TEC

A new report into DARPA-funded research draws deep connections between computer games for children and advanced military software, a modern day Ender's Game using STEM to improve US soldier training. These aren't pre-teens inadvertently directing fleets of starships to destroy alien planets, though, with the kids instead said to be unknowingly helping develop software which will train military personnel on things like avoiding counter-insurgency and pacifying occupied territories.

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World’s fastest camera shoots 4.4 trillion fps

World’s fastest camera shoots 4.4 trillion fps

The world's fastest camera, capable of shooting at 4.4 trillion frames per second, has been developed in Japan, able to capture movement at one-sixth the speed of light. Using a new technique called Sequentially Times All-optical Mapping Photography (STAMP), the camera is around 1,000 times faster than any of its existing rivals, and opens the door to new understanding of chemical reactions and more.

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Supermassive black holes’ diets revealed: Crushed stars and X-rays

Supermassive black holes’ diets revealed: Crushed stars and X-rays

The feasting habits of supermassive black holes are under investigation by two teams of astronomers, with X-rays giving up the secrets of three consumed stars, and even how light itself can be bent by the voracious forces. While stars being destroyed by black holes are a rare, once-in-every-10,000-years occurrence, researchers in Russia have identified what they say are three cases. Meanwhile, NASA has been using its own space telescopes to see how X-rays themselves are bent by black holes.

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Marines to test drone-killing laser Humvees by 2016

Marines to test drone-killing laser Humvees by 2016

Military Humvees with lasers capable of shooting down drones should be ready for field-testing by 2016, preparing for a new age of warfare where unmanned, remotely-controlled weapons platforms attack from the skies. The Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move program (GBAD) aims to equip US Marines with highly portable anti-drone weapon systems, significantly miniaturized versus the lasers the US Navy will test on battleships later this year.

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Gecko feet breakthrough could shape sticky robots

Gecko feet breakthrough could shape sticky robots

The method geckos use to switch their sticky feet on and off could open the door to clever new adhesives or even robots that could by turns cling to walls or rocky surfaces but then spring away with minimal exertion. A forest of tiny hairs known as setae cover the lizards' feet, and researchers at Oregon State University have figured out how they can toggle the stickiness of those hairs.

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