research

Plastic car engine could create lighter cars, better gas mileage

Plastic car engine could create lighter cars, better gas mileage

When it comes to cars, lightening the load can increase performance capabilities and fuel economy. Incorporating plastic components into the body of the car can only cut down the weight so much. So, auto makers are scrambling to find ways to use plastic parts in other components of the car. German research group Fraunhofer has found a way to create a car engine using plastic parts. Sure the pistons need to be metal, but the casing that houses the cylinders can be made of plastic. Fraunhofer's plastic casing weighs 20% less than if it were made using standard aluminum, and a little goes a long way when it comes to performance and saving fuel.

Google’s self-driving cars avoid cows—and other road hazards

Google’s self-driving cars avoid cows—and other road hazards

Self-driving cars are getting a lot of buzz lately. Companies from Google to Uber and Mercedes-Benz are each developing their own driverless car technology. In fact, Uber just partnered with Carnegie Mellon to create the Advanced Technology Center dedicated to the development driverless vehicles. If you're an engineer, you're in luck because they are hiring, too. Google is racing to get to the finish line first, and it may have an edge over the competition as its driverless vehicles can now officially avoid cows (and other conditions.)

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Intelligent aliens are (probably) huge, says researcher

Intelligent aliens are (probably) huge, says researcher

It is doubtful humans are alone in the universe, at least when it comes to intelligent beings, and one researcher claims the intelligent aliens that might be out there are probably very, very big...at least in relation to the typical human. Huge, in this case, means somewhere in the realm of 650lbs, and could even be higher. This would place humans on the smaller end of the intelligent beings scale, and probably also means we'd lose in an intergalactic battle.

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Brontosaurus is back from the dead (in name at least)

Brontosaurus is back from the dead (in name at least)

Back when you were a kid and you were first learning about dinosaurs - almost no matter what age you are today - you probably learned about a dinosaur named Brontosaurus. As one of the first dinosaurs to be reconstructed with fossil fragments and shown to the public as a quintessential "thunder lizard," Brontosaurus remained a popular name for a certain kind of long dinosaur for many years after it was formally retired. In 1903, paleontologist Elmer Riggs suggested that traits that separated the Brontosaurus and the Apatosaurus suggested that the former was just a shorter or younger version of the latter. This week that changes.

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M3 autonomous 1mm computer might be the world’s smallest

M3 autonomous 1mm computer might be the world’s smallest

Computers are getting exponentially smaller. Ahead of the curve is the Michigan Micro Mote, or the M3. Designed with the Internet of Things (IoT) in mind and measuring in at ony 1 cubic mm, this autonomous computer might be the smallest computer in the world. It packs sensors and other features into a package about the sie of a grain of rice. It's amazing to consider that the computing power of today's smartwatch was not only impossible 60 years ago; computers that amounted to basic graphing calculators took up the space of entire rooms.

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Stanford has a battery that charges in a minute

Stanford has a battery that charges in a minute

Batteries. The lifeblood of our mobile devices and ironically also somewhat their Achilles heel. Although the evolution of lithium-ion batteries has made all these portable electronic devices possible, they haven't really caught up with the growing power that we keep in our pockets. That's not even considering yet the similarly growing obsession over thinner devices, which would require thinner batteries that deliver the same power. Stanford University researchers, lead by chemistry professor Dai Hongjie, might have stumbled on the answer in a new variant of an aluminum-ion battery.

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Uber to hire slew of engineers, could be developing self-driving cars

Uber to hire slew of engineers, could be developing self-driving cars

Uber has big dreams, one of which might be to run fleets of self driving cars. The ride-share company is hitting the ground running as it looks to hire a range of positions including mechanical engineers from the automotive field and software engineers to work on sensors and vehicle controls. Nineteen positions were posted online today. The job listings are for Uber's newly established Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, which is a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University. This research center will act as an experimental lab where the top minds can solve problems blocking the path to driver-less vehicles.

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LHC is active again; proton beams online and firing

LHC is active again; proton beams online and firing

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is back in action today, firing proton beams around its 27-kilometer track. The LHC has been out of active commission for two years for upgrades, maintenance, and consolidation. The most recent delay was due to a short-circuit. Its repairs didn't take as long as originally anticipated, but were tedious because the parts in need of repair operate at temperatures near absolute zero. So, the device had to be slowly thawed and then painstakingly re-frozen before it could begin operation again.

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Caltech designs smartphone camera chip capable of 3D scanning

Caltech designs smartphone camera chip capable of 3D scanning

As one of the most popular new technologies, 3D printing is likely to continue its rapid growth in the consumer market over the next few years. With 3D printers becoming more common in homes, another possible growth might be in the use of 3D scanners. Users find something they'd like to make a replica of, and with a few quick photos they can go home and get to work. This could become even easier than expected, as a team of researchers at Caltech have designed a new camera chip that would allow your smartphone to take those 3D scans.

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New black hole theory: Matter doesn’t disappear after entering

New black hole theory: Matter doesn’t disappear after entering

Black holes hold unfathomable mysteries, the most mysterious among them is the question of what happens to matter once it is sucked into the black hole. Scientists no longer think that it is lost and irretrievable forever. The latest theory provides a mathematical solution to the "loss paradox" that has plagued black hole physicists. This theory maintains that matter which enters a black hole still exists, in some form, actually disproving Stephen Hawking's theory of material destruction by black holes.

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