MIT research looking for cheaper, more abundant solar cell materials

Research teams at MIT are taking a new look at solar energy. They're trying to figure out a way to use the Earth's most abundant elements to create inexpensive solar grids capable of generating terawatts of power.  The idea is simple:  Make solar cells more affordable using readily available materials and the market will naturally migrate over.

Study shows gaming by 60+ seniors increases cognitive skills

A recent study conducted by the psychology department at the University of Illinois-Urbana finds that over-60 seniors who play strategy-based video games can improve their cognitive function. The researchers found that improvements were not specific to the skills learned from gaming, but seem to be across-the-board increases. Their findings are published in this month's issue of Psychology and Aging.

Scientists create transparent memory chip

A group of scientists at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) claims it has created an “almost completely clear” transparent resistive random access memory (TRRAM). We have not seen an image of this chip yet, but if it is true, it would be the first transparent computer chip we know of.

Boeing delays 787 Dreamliner, again

Boeing today announced that will have to delay the first flight and delivery of its 787 aircraft once again. The first flight of the aircraft, also called “Dreamliner”, has been moved into Q2 2009 and the first delivery is now planned for the first quarter of 2010. Originally, Boeing had planned to deliver the first 787 to customers by May 2008.

Methanol-based fuel cell recharger for portable devices coming in 2009

 Mechanical Technology (MTI) has developed a portable methanol-based fuel cell that can be used for general purpose recharging of mobile devices. Providing up to 25 Watt-hours of power, a removable cartridge design allows continuous uninterrupted power that's off-the-grid. MTI claims products will be shipping by the end of 2009.

South pole to get sub-surface neutrino telescope one cubic kilometer in size

 Educational institutions from around the world have come together in -40 degrees Fahrenheit to build what will ultimately be the world's largest telescope, used for measuring and studying neutrinos. When finished in 2011, it will occupy a cubic kilometer of Antarctica's sub-surface ice. This gives it a catchy name: IceCube.

New research suggests Moore's Law will not cease around 2020

Researchers at The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have been examining alternatives for extending Moore's Law beyond the upcoming 22 nm process node around 2020. This iterative step is generally considered to be a hard barrier where the laws of physics finally tell Moore's Law "end of the line."

In the economic downward spiral, recycling goes down as well

The downward spiral of our economy seems to have annihilated the market for recycled materials such as plastic, cardboard, metal, and newspaper. All over the country these materials are accumulating by the ton, in junk yards and warehouses of recycling contractors who can’t find buyers, or refuse to sell at rock-bottom prices.

2008 was too short, by exactly one second

 The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) will add a leap second to 2008. The first one added since 2005, and the 24th added since the service began in 1972, the last day of the year will be 23 hours, 59 minutes and 61 seconds long.

Hubble telescope tracks down E.T.

NASA today said that its Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has identified carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star. The discovery surrounding HD 189733b is an important step in finding biotracers of extraterrestrial life, but the planet itself is too hot to support life as we know it.

NASA assembling powerful Ares I-X rocket, prepares for mid-2009 test launch

 NASA's Langley Research Center plays host to an Orion crew module and abort system simulator, components of the upcoming Ares I-X launch vehicle. Designed to be a less powerful rocket than the also planned Ares V rocket, the Ares I will eventually carry crew and components into space for NASA's return to the moon and on to Mars. The first test flight will occur Summer, 2009.

Nano-magnetic sensors could pave the way for massive data storage capacity

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) have created nanoscopic magnetic sensors. Comprised of carbon nanotubes embedded with bundles of cobalt atoms, these magnetic field sensors are the first ever capable of reliably detecting magnetic fields at near atomic levels.

Dean Kamen's island reduces energy consumption by 50%

Dean Kamen is among the more visible invenmtors in this country and now mainly known for the Segway scooter, a robotic prosthetic arm capable of moving when you think, and a wheelchair that can travel up stairs. Now he has created an all LED environment on an island that has reduced its energy consumption by 50%.

Endeavour to be flown back to Florida on Wednesday

NASA today said that Endeavour will leave California on Wednesday and will ride on the back of a modified 747. The space shuttle is expected to arrive at Kennedy Space Center as early as Thursday.

Intel creates technology for low-cost 40 Gb/s optical links

Intel has been working on Silicon Photonics technologies as a possible to dramatically accelerate on-chip or in-system data bandwidths for some time now. Today the company added a new link in a complex chain that is required to make Silicon Photonics available in the mainstream – a low-cost Avalanche Photodetector supporting a clock speed of 340 GHz and enabling affordable 40 Gb/s data communications.

IBM and Harvard search for organic solar power using cloud computing

Researchers from IBM and Harvard will team up to create the World Community Grid (WCG) project. This project will be comprised of over 413,000 members in 200 countries, each of which will donate their idle compute cycles to a massive cloud-based computer of more than one million cores. The effort will look for organic materials capable of producing low-cost, easy-to-manufacture solar cells which, according to WGC's stated goals, could help reduce man's contributions to global warming by reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned.

2008 coolest year this decade, scientists warn alarming warming trend begins in 2015

Climatic Research Unit (CRU), a division of the University of East Anglia, is reporting that 2008 is the coldest year this decade, down 0.14 Celsius below the average from 2001-2007. They warn, however, that 2008 is still the tenth warmest year on record and despite being cooler does not indicate a cooling trend. Scientists are predicting a leveling off of temperature for the next six years or so, then an acceleration upward again after 2015.

Disassembling a 768 MB EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX video card for kicks

 When this card was purchased new, I paid $565 for it. At some point, the card was damaged and no longer functions. BIOS won't recognize it. The fan doesn't spin. Nothing. EVGA tells me it's outside their warranty timeframe, so I thought it might be fun to see what makes it tick. See the SLIDESHOW and find out what goes on inside those slick looking video card packages. You might be surprised how small the actual video card is in there.

Additional testing delays next NASA Mars mission to 2011

NASA decided to scrap plans of launching its next Mars in fall of next year. Instead, the organization will delay the mission by about two years and send the rover on its journey in 2011.  

Semiconductor industry facing double-digit declines in Q4, into Q1'09

 Robert W. Baird & Company, an Equity Research firm, is forecasting an extremely bleak 9 to 12 months ahead for several key areas of the general semiconductor industries. Declines on the order of 50% in some areas are being seen in Q4 with no reversal of this trend forecast until Q3'2009.