research

Flexible solar panels are both functional and decorative

Flexible solar panels are both functional and decorative

While scientists and engineers are still racing to make solar panels more efficient and feasible, some are trying to make the technology more attractive. Literally. Researchers from the VTT Technical Centre of Finland have developed a process that creates solar panels that are not only flexible but also organic and recyclable and can be used on things like windows, walls, machines, and other surfaces that can turn any structure, furniture, or even works of art into light-powered sources of energy for small devices and sensors.

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Ford might just move the driver, not go driverless

Ford might just move the driver, not go driverless

Ford's new Palo Alto research center may have driverless cars on the menu, but technology shifting the human driver from the car to across the country might be closer to primetime if engineers have their way. Virtual valets and remotely-piloted car sharing schemes could take advantage of increasingly electrified cars and faster LTE networks, Ford's Mike Tinskey explained to me, with a controller potentially thousands of miles away taking the wheel when a local driver isn't available or practical. Right now, that means going on a joyride in an Atlanta parking lot, when you're actually sat at a Logitech gaming wheel in California.

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We’re three minutes from Doomsday

We’re three minutes from Doomsday

Climate change and the unrelenting development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons have seen the Doomsday Clock pushed another minute closer to global disaster, with scientists warning that we're three metaphorical minutes from destruction. The clock, a symbolic representation of how close humanity is to teetering on the edge of effective annihilation by its own hand, is now just three minutes from midnight, with the team in charge of the hands - the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, counting seventeen Nobel Prize laureates among its members - ominously suggesting that "the probability of global catastrophe is very high."

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Ford’s new Silicon Valley lab isn’t all pie-in-the-sky

Ford’s new Silicon Valley lab isn’t all pie-in-the-sky

Self-driving cars are undoubtedly the most attention-grabbing project at Ford's new tech outpost in Palo Alto, but it's not all the team is working on, and other schemes are far closer to helping modern drivers. The Research and Innovation Center is also exploring how digital dashboards can be smarter, how smart home gadgets like Nest can play nicely with your car, and even how a little Project Ara style modularity could make Fords more future-proof. Read on for three of the more down-to-earth - and potentially closer to production cars at your nearest Ford dealer - projects underway.

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Here’s why rain smells, presented in slow-mo

Here’s why rain smells, presented in slow-mo

There's a word for the scent that comes with the rain after a long, warm period of dry weather - it's called Petrichor. This week, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have published a study - and a rather fascinating video - that shows how rain gives off this scent. Rain releases a smell much in the same way champagne releases its scent through bubbles - with tiny bursts of aerosols. Like miniature spray bottles aiming for your nose, raindrops are able to smell just like rain.

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Frill Shark “living fossil” found alive in Australia

Frill Shark “living fossil” found alive in Australia

It's time again to cover your kids' eyes and make certain you don't have a heart condition, because the animal you're about to see is terrifying. This is the Chlamydoselachus anguineus, or "Frilled Shark", so named for its six pairs of "frill like gills." One of these beasts was found earlier this month near Lakes Entrance in Gippsland, Australia. This animal is one of two living species from a genus of shark that's nearly extinct. This family of sharks has existed since the Cretaceous epoch, 72-million years ago.

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Ford R&D Palo Alto puts driverless cars in pole position

Ford R&D Palo Alto puts driverless cars in pole position

Ford CEO Mark Fields may have been critical of the auto industry’s attempts to over-hype driverless cars, but that doesn’t mean the company isn’t working on its own model at its new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California. The car firm has snagged a former Apple engineer, Dragos Maciuca, to lead its innovation efforts, heading projects like autonomous and remotely-piloted vehicles, integrating the dashboard with the smart home - including hooking up with the Google-owned Nest thermostat - and leveraging GPU acceleration for things like swifter speech recognition.

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This metal is so water-resistant that it bounces them off

This metal is so water-resistant that it bounces them off

If you think IPX8 grade waterproofing is already astounding, prepare to pick up your jaw after seeing this new metal etching technique. Researchers at the University of Rochester were able to come up with a laser-etching method that creates what is probably the most super hydrophobic sheet of metal in the world. It's so hydrophobic that water doesn't simply roll off to one side when tilted at an angle. Water drops actually bounce off repeatedly until they either fall off the edge.

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Jaguar Land Rover “Bike Sense” aims to save cyclists’ lives

Jaguar Land Rover “Bike Sense” aims to save cyclists’ lives

In the UK alone, a recorded staggering 19,000 cyclists are killed or injured each year, making what is in theory a healthy lifestyle also a dangerous one. That is why Jaguar Land Rover is investing in research and automotive technology that aims to make roads a safer place for cyclists, not by simply relegating them to a part of the road but by helping inform drivers of oncoming bikers. They're calling it Bike Sense and it gives drivers a sort of sixth sense, thanks to advancements in driver assistance technologies.

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NASA releases Ceres shots as Dawn nears dwarf planet

NASA releases Ceres shots as Dawn nears dwarf planet

NASA has shared its newest photos of distant dwarf planet Ceres, the next destination for the long-traveling Dawn spacecraft as it continues its nearly two-decade mission. The 590 mile wide planet is just 27 pixels across in Ceres' first snapshot, beamed back to Earth as the exploring spaceship makes its approach, but that's still enough to help guide the craft into orbit. Meanwhile, the quality will only increase as the distance from the mysterious planet shrinks: NASA says that the next scheduled photos will be the best shots of Ceres ever seen by human eyes.

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