The gas cloud where stars are born

Using a telescope installed at the driest place on earth - Ridge A in Antarctica – a UNSW-led team of researchers has identified a giant gas cloud which appears to be in an early stage of formation. Giant clouds of molecular gas – the most massive objects in our galaxy – are the birthplaces of stars.

Let's go planet hunting

A space-based observatory to search for planets orbiting alien stars has been selected today as ESA’s third medium-class science mission. It is planned for launch by 2024. The PLATO – Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars – mission was selected by ESA’s Science Programme Committee for implementation as part of its Cosmic Vision 2015–25 Programme.

Will plug-in cars crash the electric grid?

Selecting a Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf — or one of many other new models — shoppers in the United States bought more than 96,000 plug-in electric cars in 2013. That’s a tiny slice of the auto market, but it’s up eighty-four percent from the year before. In Vermont, as of January 2014, there were 679 plug-in vehicles, according to the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. That’s two hundred percent growth over 2013.

New, inexpensive production materials boost promise of hydrogen fuel

Generating electricity is not the only way to turn sunlight into energy we can use on demand. The sun can also drive reactions to create chemical fuels, such as hydrogen, that can in turn power cars, trucks and trains.

Moving to 100% renewables - is it possible?

Mark Jacobson, the Stanford professor who specializes in designing scenarios for a massive transition to renewable energy, is at it again – in a more high-profile way than ever.

These electric buses will soon be solar powered

Though most of the time when you hear about electric buses these days it is because of Chinese manufacturer BYD, others do have contributions to the developing mass transit space as well. One of these is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is supplying two units in “a zero emissions transportation system being planned by the city of Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan.”

Rise of the compliant machines

Are we on the brink of a robotics revolution? That’s what numerous media outlets asked last December when Google acquired eight robotics companies that specialize in such innovations as manipulation, vision, and humanoid robots.

Rocks around the clock: Asteroids pound tiny star

Scientists using CSIRO's Parkes telescope and another telescope in South Africa have found evidence that a tiny star called PSR J0738-4042 is being pounded by asteroids — large lumps of rock from space.

With a deadly embrace, 'Spidery' pulsars consume their mates

Black widow spiders and their Australian cousins, known as redbacks, are notorious for their tainted love, expressed as an unsettling tendency to kill and devour their male partners. Astronomers have noted similar behavior among two rare breeds of binary system that contain rapidly spinning neutron stars, also known as pulsars.

NASA finds planet-sized space weather explosions on Venus

Researchers recently discovered that a common space weather phenomenon on the outskirts of Earth’s magnetic bubble, the magnetosphere, has much larger repercussions for Venus. The giant explosions, called hot flow anomalies, can be so large at Venus that they’re bigger than the entire planet and they can happen multiple times a day.

Unstable Atlantic deep ocean circulation under future climate conditions

Today, deep waters formed in the northern North Atlantic fill approximately half of the deep ocean globally. In the process, this impacts on the circum-Atlantic climate, regional sea level, and soak up much of the excess atmospheric carbon dioxide from industrialisation — helping to moderate the effects of global warming.

A sneak peek at tomorrow's automated electric car

How might it be possible to improve upon the already popular, tech heavy Tesla Model S electric sedan? Turn it over to creative auto concept designers Rinspeed. This outfit, which has turned out some rather interesting designs over the years, is taking to the Geneva Motor Show later this year with XchangeE, an autonomous driving design idea.

Powering buses with banana peels and coffee grounds

Up to 50,000 tons of food waste a year won’t be going into landfills in Norway. It’ll be going into buses. How’s that? Well, the grimy grub will become transportation fuel at a new Wärtsilä-built biogas liquefaction plant outside Oslo.

Using holograms to improve electronic devices

A team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering and Russian Academy of Science have demonstrated a new type of holographic memory device that could provide unprecedented data storage capacity and data processing capabilities in electronic devices.

A step closer to a photonic future

The future of computing may lie not in electrons, but in photons – that is, in microprocessors that use light instead of electrical signals. But these so-called photonic devices are typically built using customized methods that make them difficult and expensive to manufacture.

An essential step toward printing living tissues

A new bioprinting method developed at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) creates intricately patterned 3D tissue constructs with multiple types of cells and tiny blood vessels. The work represents a major step toward a longstanding goal of tissue engineers: creating human tissue constructs realistic enough to test drug safety and effectiveness.

NASA's Curiosity adds reverse driving for wheel protection on Mars

Terrain that NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is now crossing is as smooth as team members had anticipated based on earlier images from orbit. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the rover covered 329 feet (100.3 meters), the mission's first long trek that used reverse driving and its farthest one-day advance of any kind in more than three months.

RXTE reveals the cloudy cores of active galaxies

Picture a single cloud large enough to span the solar system from the sun to beyond Pluto's orbit. Now imagine many such clouds orbiting in a vast ring at the heart of a distant galaxy, occasionally dimming the X-ray light produced by the galaxy's monster black hole.

NASA's NuSTAR untangles mystery of how stars explode

One of the biggest mysteries in astronomy, how stars blow up in supernova explosions, finally is being unraveled with the help of NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR).

Pond-dwelling powerhouse's genome points to its biofuel potential

Duckweed is a tiny floating plant that's been known to drive people daffy. It's one of the smallest and fastest-growing flowering plants that often becomes a hard-to-control weed in ponds and small lakes. But it's also been exploited to clean contaminated water and as a source to produce pharmaceuticals.