Fingertip Sensor Makes Robots Better (And Far Scarier)

Good as robots are at repeating the same motion over and over, they can’t adapt to situations nearly as well as good ‘old flesh-and-bones. That’s where MIT’s new fingertip sensor comes in. The technology employed to make a robot version of our fingertips is sophisticated, but surprisingly simple.

The Chemistry Behind The Different Colours Of Autumn Leaves

At some point, when you were a wee child, your parents or teachers probably gave you a simple — but incomplete — explanation of why leaves change colour in autumn: green chlorophyll fades to reveal the yellows and oranges that have been there all along. That’s true, but that’s not the whole chemical story.

This Artificial Tongue Can Taste The Tannins In Wine

Wine-tasting notes are famous for their verbal flourishes — for example, “kirsch, dried beef and baker’s chocolate” — but the liquid is ultimately just a collection of molecules, some sour, some bitter, some dry. And we’re getting better at quantifying taste. A newly developed artificial tongue uses the very proteins from our mouths to measure the dryness of wine.

The Four More Likely Places To Host Alien Life In The Solar System

Briefly: NASA’s astronomy picture of the day is nothing special today for some people. For me, it is special, because I like to look at the four moons that tantalise Earth scientists with the possibility of life — four moons that we should explore soon, shown here to scale. So beautiful, they never get old.

Radio Tornadoes Could Deliver Never-Ending Wi-Fi Capacity Some Day

Coaxial wiring — like what runs into your cable box — revolutionised data transmission by drastically widening the wire’s data pipeline. Two years ago, a research team from University of Southern California accomplished the feat using a vortex of lasers. Now, that same team is back with a means of coiling radio waves around themselves that could provide us with theoretically limitless, long-range Wi-Fi connectivity.

NASA Is Blasting The First 3D Printer Into Space Today

A few minutes after 2am EST (4pm AEST), a SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft will lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida carrying something that’s never been taken into space: Aa3D printer. When it docks with the ISS, it will deliver the first machine capable of making things in orbit — a huge step forward for exploration.

Nobody Knows How These Strange Ridges Appeared On Mars

The technology used to map to Mars is advancing at a thrilling rate and uncovering all kinds of curiosities. The latest head-scratching image comes from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). It reveals a series of mysterious sandy ridges. No one knows exactly how they got there.

Scientists Are Reinventing Photosynthesis To Grow More Food

What if we could grow rice and wheat with the same amount of water and fertiliser but end up with 50 per cent more food? Sound like magic? Bad accounting? No, just some chemistry and genetic engineering. Scientists have recently figured out the second of three steps to make photosynthesis a whole lot more efficient in plants.

MIT's New BioSuit Shrinkwraps Astronauts To Hold Them Together

Our current spacesuits are awesome pieces of technology, but they certainly have their limitations. This is why MIT scientists (and NASA itself) have been working on a next generation spacesuit. And their latest innovation is super futuristic.

15 Rare Images From NASA's First Decades Of Space Exploration

The idea of floating in orbit, protected from the void by mere inches of material, is one we’ve grown pretty blasé about over the years. But it’s a terrifying, marvellous, sublime thing — and a new exhibit of rare NASA photos attempts to remind us of that fact.

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