100 TO 1:

There are hundreds of thousands of old unexploded landmines scattered around the world. Finding them is a huge and time consuming task. The metal detectors alert to 100 objects that eventually turn out to be junk, such as shrapnel, car parts or cans for every 1 landmine. That wastes precious time in a task that could already take another century. Red Lotus Technologies in the US has an idea that could help: Pattern Enhancement Tool for Assisting Landmine Sensing. A monitor displays the shape of the object found by a metal detector, then based on the shape, the operator can decide to investigate further or move on. The inventors describe it as like an X-ray for the soil. It's crazy that projects like these have to rely on fundraising and charity.

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BICYCLE SKYCYCLE: In some places they elevate the local light trains that run through and across cities. London's considering a system of elevated bike lanes called SkyCycle. The idea is to separate cyclists from both cars and pedestrians and give them their own routes across town and between train stations. The bike lanes would be limited to certain routes, like a motorway, with fixed entry and exit points, and cyclists would pay a small fee to use them. Cyclists, pedestrians and drivers are all sure to like that solution. Co.EXIST explains. Check out the video.

HUFF AND PUFF: It's one thing to put a model of an aircraft in a wind tunnel, but how do researchers test buildings and other structures against hurricane forces? The answer lies with Florida International University's Wall of Wind. 12 huge fans simulate the wind and rain of a Category 5 hurricane. The electric fan-motor units are controlled by two variable frequency drives and can generate sustained wind speed up to 157 mph or 70 metres per second. And they will blow the house down. Florida International University has more info. Video here.

ATTRACTING OIL: How to clean up oil spills is a major headache for everyone involved. Retrieving the oil from water can be slow, costly and inefficient. MIT researchers are suggesting a new process: add water-repellent ferrous nanoparticles to the mix of water and oil. Then use magnets to gather and capture the ferrous nanoparticles and the oil around them. Next the nanoparticles can be removed magnetically and the oil sent to a refinery. Imagine if they could place a shield of such nanoparticles around an oil drilling operation to deal with and almost prevent spills in real time. MIT News elaborates. Here's the video.

LOGICAL WATER: A superhydrophobic surface repels water. Or, if you collide one droplet of water into another on such a surface the droplets bounce. By controlling the bounce direction researchers at Aalto University in Finland have demonstrated that they can send droplets of water through a logic gate, just like bits in a computer. They suggest this could eventually lead to autonomous simple logic devices that don't need electricity. Or, if the drops are loaded with reactive chemical cargo they could be used as programmable biochemical analysis devices. There's some real futuristic thinking going on there. Aalto University details. Watch here.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz