Diatoms could triple solar cell efficiency

Microscopic algae called diatoms could help triple the electrical output of experimental, dye-sensitized solar cells, according to researchers at Oregon State University and Portland State University.

By trapping light inside the nanoscale pores of thin-film solar cells coated with diatoms, the engineers claim that more incident photons are captured to boost electricity generation, thereby greatly increasing efficiency.

“In our system, photons bounce around inside pores formed from diatom shells,” said OSU professor Greg Rorrer, “making them three times more efficient.”

The Recent Future / April 13, 2009 / Tech / 0 Comments

Military Laser Hits Battlefield Strength

Wired.com Reports: Huge news for real-life ray guns: Electric lasers have hit battlefield strength for the first time — paving the way for energy weapons to go to war.

In recent test-blasts, Pentagon-researchers at Northrop Grumman managed to get its 105 kilowatts of power out of their laser — past the “100kW threshold [that] has been viewed traditionally as a proof of principle for ‘weapons grade’ power levels for high-energy lasers,” Northrop’s vice president of directed energy systems, Dan Wildt, said in a statement.

The Recent Future / April 1, 2009 / Tech / 0 Comments

Scientists Find ‘Baffling’ Link between Autism and Vinyl Flooring

Swedish children who live in homes with vinyl floors are more likely to have autism, according to a new study, but what’s behind the link is unclear. Children who live in homes with vinyl floors, which can emit chemicals called phthalates, are more likely to have autism, according to research by Swedish and U.S. scientists published Monday. The study of Swedish children is among the first to find an apparent connection between an environmental chemical and autism.

The Recent Future / April 1, 2009 / Health / 0 Comments

Scientists Use DNA to Tether Cells Together, Build Microtissues

One of the greatest hopes in the medical research community is that tissues will one day be grown and implanted into the human body to replace aging or defective tissues and organs. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a novel approach to build self-assembling microtissues by coating cells in complementary DNA.  The new approach is a bottom-up method, which should allow for greater tissue complexity.

Full Story: http://www.dailytech.com/Scientists+Use+DNA+to+Tether+Cells+Together+Build+Microtissues/article14504.htm

The Recent Future / April 1, 2009 / Health / 0 Comments

A Vaccine Offers Instant Immunity to Cancer and HIV

Barbas and his team developed a two-stage chemical strategy that first puts the body’s antibodies on alert, and then gives them instructions on which targets to destroy. In the first stage, Barbas designed a chemical that, once injected, enables antibodies to form covalent bonds. Normally, antibodies cannot form such bonds. The second stage involves injecting a small adapter molecule with two parts: one that bonds covalently with antibodies, and the other that binds with a specific epitope, or cancer marker. When injected, this adapter molecule links with antibodies and then seeks out and attaches to a target’s specific epitope. The method is essentially like handing antibodies a beeper and putting them on standby. They wait around for a “call,” in the form of the adapter molecule, which, once connected, instantly leads them directly to a target’s weak spot, where the antibody can attack and deactivate the pathogen.

The Recent Future / April 1, 2009 / Health / 0 Comments

Lockheed offers ready-to-go supersoldier exoskeleton

US weaponry globocorp Lockheed is pleased to announce the unveiling of its newly-acquired powered exoskeleton intended to confer superhuman strength and endurance upon US soldiers. Needless to say, corporate promo vid of the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC™) is available. There are various optional extras, too. The HULC can be fitted with armour plating, heating or cooling systems, sensors and “other custom attachments”. We particularly liked that last one: our personal request would be a powered gun or missile mount of some kind above the shoulder, linked to a helmet or monocle laser sight.

The Recent Future / April 1, 2009 / Tech / 0 Comments