Insect Telephone

Insects have always been a unique model for exploring ways to “get things done”. This just proves that they are more inventive than we may have thought.

Article: Insects Use Plants Like A Telephone

Dutch ecologist Roxina Soler and her colleagues have discovered that subterranean and aboveground herbivorous insects can communicate with each other by using plants as telephones. Subterranean insects issue chemical warning signals via the leaves of the plant. This way, aboveground insects are alerted that the plant is already ‘occupied’.

Aboveground, leaf-eating insects prefer plants that have not yet been occupied by subterranean root-eating insects. Subterranean insects emit chemical signals via the leaves of the plant, which warn the aboveground insects about their presence. This messaging enables spatially-separated insects to avoid each other, so that they do not unintentionally compete for the same plant. Read more

Spiderweb Space Sail

Imagine how many exploratory space probes could be built and then sent off into space to travel the universe.

Article: Space ‘spiderwebs’ could propel future probes

A new type of solar sail has been woven by a team of scientists in Finland. The spiderweb-like sail is designed to catch the wind of ionised gas that blows from the Sun, carrying spacecraft to the outer reaches of the solar system, or letting them tack back and forth through the asteroid belt on exploration or mining missions.

The new sail differs from the more conventional type of solar sail, which is designed to use the gentle pressure of sunlight to move a spacecraft. Read more

Superlens

This is an amazing breakthrough and one that has practical applications

Article: Simple ‘superlens’ sharpens focusing power

A simple-to-make “superlens” can focus 10 times more sharply than a conventional lens. It could shrink the size of features on computer chips, or help power gadgets without wires.

No matter how powerful a conventional lens, it cannot focus light down to more than about half its wavelength, the “diffraction limit“. This limits the amount of data that can be stored on a CD, and the size of features on computer chips. Read more

Good Gas?

Creative thinking and high oil prices will see more ideas like this

Article: Scientists unlock frozen natural gas

A remote drilling rig high in the Mackenzie Delta has become the site of a breakthrough that could one day revolutionize the world’s energy supply.

For the first time, Canadian and Japanese researchers have managed to efficiently produce a constant stream of natural gas from ice-like gas hydrates that, worldwide, dwarf all known fossil fuel deposits combined. Read more

Eraser

When you are at a loss for something to invent just remember that even the most common things had to be invented. Find a need and fill it.

Eraser

Racetrack Memory

And the race is on! Just imagine what you could store with that much memory

Scientists unveil revolutionary ‘racetrack’ computer memory
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

A Californian team has developed a new generation of memory that combines the high performance and reliability of solid state “flash” memory, stored in microchips, with the high capacity of the PC’s hard disk drive, which is cheap but contains moving parts and is slow.

In two papers in the journal Science, Dr Stuart Parkin and colleagues at the IBM Almaden Research Centre in San Jose describe a revolutionary technology dubbed “racetrack” memory, or RM memory.

The team believes that it marks a milestone that could lead to electronic devices capable of storing far more data in the same amount of space than is possible today, with lightning-fast boot times, far lower cost and unprecedented stability and durability. Read more