Changespotting

Rachael McKinnon rounds up the best the web has to offer

Changespotting: Sparking a laser revolution

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Spark plug ignition causes unavoidable emissions. Photo / Thinkstock
Spark plug ignition causes unavoidable emissions. Photo / Thinkstock

Ignition in a car is conventionally created by spark plugs sending electrical sparks between two electrodes, which create a small controlled explosion and start your car. This process causes undesired, but presently unavoidable, nitrogen oxide emissions. But now, researchers in Japan are developing an alternative laser system that may help reduce these emissions.

Engineers at MIT have been researching photovoltaic cells - used in solar panels - and have recently announced that they have developed transparent variants. These could be built directly into the structure of commercial buildings, allowing them to harness the energy generated. The next obstacle in development is extending the life of these transparent cells.

Everyone knows that families are unique - some stranger than others - but three genetic parents will make a truly modern family. There is two per cent of DNA in a fertilised egg, known as mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down from the mother. Gene mutations in this DNA can cause severe and potentially fatal diseases to transfer from mother to child and soon some couples may be able to have this two per cent extracted from a third genetic donor.

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