Why "utility fogs" could be the technology that changes the world

Arthur C. Clarke is famous for suggesting that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. There's no better example of this than the ultra-speculative prospect of "utility fogs" — swarms of networked microscopic robots that could assume the shape and texture of virtually anything. » 8/08/12 10:18am 8/08/12 10:18am

Breakthrough silk compound could lead to longer-lasting antibiotics…

One of the major hurdles of getting a number of drugs into the developing world is that they need to be kept chilled to remain effective. A breakthrough technique using silk proteins has found a way around the need to keep cold, and could mean drugs that stay usable at high temperature for months — if not years — at a… » 7/12/12 7:55am 7/12/12 7:55am

Watch a nanotube being eaten, and then barfed back up, by a flake of…

There are a lot of grown-up ways I might have chosen to write that headline, but when you watch this video you'll see why I resorted to talking like my five-year-old neighbor. Though what you're watching are simple chemical reactions under a transmission electron microscope (TEM), it's tempting to describe them in… » 5/16/12 9:13am 5/16/12 9:13am

Breakthrough: This metal is almost as light as air

Ultra-lightweight materials are an incredibly cool area of materials science, bringing us crazy substances like aerogel. And now, for the first time, scientists have produced a metal that's so light it can balance on the fluff of a dandelion. Here's why this material is revolutionary — and how it's made. » 11/17/11 12:59pm 11/17/11 12:59pm

The proton transistor could finally give us perfect machine-human…

One of the barriers that stops us from plugging computers into our brains and replacing our eyeballs with cameras is the fact that biological systems and electronics use different control systems. Electronics use electrons and living creatures use either protons or ions. Because of this, our cyborg dreams are a bit… » 9/23/11 7:30am 9/23/11 7:30am

Scientists grow nanowire directly on a crystal — and help usher in the …

Growing nanowires vertically has been within our power for some time now, but growing them horizontally, and directly on a surface you might actually want? That's harder. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science think they've figured out the trick, and have coaxed nanowires to grow in nice straight lines on… » 8/19/11 1:21pm 8/19/11 1:21pm

Nanotechnology: what is reality and what is magic?

Arthur C. Clarke famously said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I always keep this quote in my mind when reading science fiction and try to spot where things become indistinguishable from magic. They always do. One of the most popular ways in modern sci-fi to get away with… » 2/13/11 6:00pm 2/13/11 6:00pm