BIRD BRAIN: Seen from a distance the Festo SmartBird looks like any other bird as it flies around. The difference, of course, is that it's mechanical. It starts, flies by flapping its wings and lands autonomously. Since the wings twist at specific angles it can also turn in flight. Is it a bird? No, it's a SmartBird. More at Festo and video on YouTube.
MAYBE SPAM DOESN'T PAY: In 2008 US researchers hijacked part of the Storm spam botnet and sent buyers to a dummy site that didn't sell anything, but counted clicks instead. With some clever calculation they estimated that the botnet they hijacked would be grossing around $7,000 per day. Which doesn't really seem all that much for such a big and worldwide business. More at Wired and a PDF on the research atUC Berkeley.
BLOOD ISN'T SO THICK: The old way of adding a drop of blood to a slide and looking at it through a microscope could disappear, thanks to an international team of researchers.
The Self-powered Integrated Microfluidic Blood Analysis System is a small biochip. Whole blood flows through trenches below microfluidic channels, while gravity separates the blood components. Biodetectors in the chip then provide a readout within a few minutes. This could be developed to diagnose cancer, cardiac disease, sepsis and other diseases in minutes. Smaller, cheaper, faster are all great advances. More at UC Berkeley.
DOUBLE DUTY WINDOWS: Chicago's Willis Tower now has photovoltaic glass panels on the south side of the 56th floor. Daylight still shines through but a reflective prism directs angled sunlight onto solar cells. Each one square metre window can generate 120W of power. If the East and West facades also received such cells they could together potentially generate 2 Megawatts of solar power while reducing cooling costs. That makes sense: let light through and capture the solar energy as well. More at DiscoveryNews.
FLAME KILLER: Water douses fires, but an electric field can rapidly suppress flames. Scientists at Harvard University connected a powerful 600-watt electrical amplifier to a probe and repeatedly shot beams of electricity at an open flame more than a foot high. Every time the flame was snuffed out. They believe that in future firefighters could carry such a device as a backpack, or that electric fields could be used in sprinkler systems to create paths through the flames. With electricity dripping all over the house. More at ACS.
- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nzBy Miraz Jordan