Tech Universe: Thursday 24 April

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A QUICK HIGH: If you find the lift to the 4th floor slow just think about how lifts work in skyscrapers. In Guangzhou, southern China, is a skyscraper due to be completed in 2016. The lift in that building will reach speeds of 72 kph as it takes 43 seconds to carry its passengers to the 95th floor. Because of the height and the speed the lift will change air pressure as it travels so no-one's ears get blocked. The tower may also warp slightly in the wind, so guiding rollers will help keep the ride smooth. If the lift malfunctions normal brakes could fail because of heat, so brakes able to resist extreme heat will activate in an emergency. What goes up fast must come down fast. BBC.

STUMP UP: Amputees who wear artificial limbs can suffer from sores where the limbs rub against their skin. That can prevent them from using the artificial limbs which flows on to poorer health. Researchers at Southampton University developed a pressure sensor that detects detect rubbing as well as downward pressure.

The sensor is taped into a liner in the socket that connects the stump and the artificial limb. Data goes to clinicians for monitoring and to decide if any adjustments are needed. The researchers hope to develop a smartphone app and system to adjust the fit of the socket so users can monitor themselves. Being able to monitor things for yourself would seem much more useful than relying on others to keep track of things. BBC.

SCRAP FILTERS: Discarded cellphones and other electronic waste can yield valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper, but the processes to retrieve them tend to be dirty and polluting. The VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland has an idea: a biological filter made of mushroom mycelium mats that could recover as much as 80% of the gold in electronic scrap. The processing starts the same way: by crushing the electronic waste into tiny particles. Then the particles are sent through a biomass that collects around 80% of the gold, rather than the 10% or 20% that harmful chemical methods can achieve. The researchers say the biomass could be engineered to target other precious metals too. That seems like a win all round. EE Times.

SWEET PEE: Researchers in Singapore can now accurately measure glucose in urine using a bimetallic film over nanospheres. The assay detects various sugars, but the concentration of each is revealed by the magnitude of a unique signal peak. Researchers were able to measure glucose levels at a clinical accuracy of 0.1 millimoles per litre. This technique requires only a small sample which doesn't need to be purified, so could eventually lead to an accurate glucose test that doesn't require a finger-stick. Many people will welcome that. MedGadget.

WAVE TO THE LIGHT: Tall buildings in cities tend to block sunlight, and the more densely they're packed together the darker streets and alleyways can become. That affects health and safety as well as business. Egyptian researchers have developed a corrugated, translucent panel that can be mounted on rooftops and hung over the edge at an angle, where it spreads sunlight onto the street below. The panels are made of polymethyl methacrylate, the same acrylic plastic used in Plexiglas. Panels are smooth underneath, but the top is corrugated in a specific sine wave pattern that most efficiently redistributes light from a wide range of sun positions all year round. In simulations the panels gave the area below up to 4 times as much sunlight. The next step is to test full size panels on real alleyways. Regular cleaning will be a must. The Optical Society.

Miraz Jordan,

- NZ Herald

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