News Column

LAB NOTES Dispatches from the world of science

January 26, 2014

Not for all the CO2 in China. . .

Extreme air pollution in China and other Asian countries is having a global impact on weather, making cyclones and storms more powerful. Researchers from Nasa'sJet Propulsion Laboratory and Texas A&M University found the pollution was affecting cloud formation, precipitation and storm intensity globally. The economic boom in China and other parts of Asia has been accompanied by huge amounts of pollution. The pollution rises high into the atmosphere, affecting the amount of solar radiation reflected by the Earth and therefore also global air circulation and weather patterns. Pollution levels in some Chinese cities are 100 times higher than WHO recommendations.

Power some sugar on me

A biodegradable battery that runs on sugar has been invented by researchers at Virginia Tech. The battery, which can be recharged by simply adding sugar, could reduce the environmental impact caused by the billions of toxic batteries sent to landfill each year. Artificial enzymes are used to break down the sugar, stripping charge from the molecules and creating electricity and water as byproducts. Although batteries that run on sugar have been developed in the past, this new version is more energy-dense than previous examples.

Good? It's the cat's e-whiskers

Robots in the future could sport cat-like "e-whiskers" with the recent invention of super-sensitive fibre sensors by researchers at the Berkeley Laboratory and the University of California. Composed of carbon nanotubes and silver nanoparticles, the sensors provide tactile feedback, with the ability to detect pressures as slight as 1 pascal, roughly equivalent to the downward pressure exerted by a banknote. Sensitive enough to create detailed maps of variations in the wind, the e-whiskers could find use as mapping tools for robots or even as wearable devices for measuring your pulse. Kadhim Shubber

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: Observer (UK)

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