It's sad but true that the enamel on your teeth is vulnerable to decay. Researchers at Kinki University in Japan have created a 0.004 mm thin hydroxyapatite film that can coat individual teeth to prevent decay or to make them appear whiter. The film is made from the same stuff as tooth enamel so is pretty much invisible after being applied. I bet you have to change out the coating at regular intervals though.

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WARP FACTOR 1: Scifi starships may warp through space, but in our real-life it takes a very long time to travel short distances, such as to Mars. After all, Voyager 1 has been underway now for 33 years and has travelled only to the edge of the solar system. Eagleworks Laboratories at Johnson Space Centre think we just may be able to use warp speeds after all. Eagleworks has set up an interferometer test bed to try to generate and detect a microscopic warp bubble. If they can prove the concept it could be developed into something that works. In the past enormous energy requirements have been cited as a limiting factor. A new analysis suggests that carefully tuning bubble thickness and intensity could make a substantial difference. Sometimes things seem impossible purely because we haven't thought about them the right way. Icarus Interstellar details.


EYES ON THE STORM: Two NASA Global Hawk uncrewed aircraft originally developed for the military have been instead modified to help with atmospheric research. One has already flown several missions over developing tropical storms, while the other will soon also be put in service. The planes are based on the East Coast of the US and can spend up to 6 hours off the coast of Africa as storms develop, or 20 hours or more as the storms approach North America. That means the planes can be used for storm surveillance, spending a lot of time observing, rather than just flying short missions for a quick look. On one recent mission the plane flew for 25 hours. The planes are designed to fly around the entire storm gathering data, including dropping measuring devices into the storm itself. You have to wonder why the military would have let such valuable assets go. Wired explains.

A FAST AVAST: Pirates look out! Zyvex Marine's LRV-17 Long Range Vessel is made of carbon fibre-reinforced composites, reinforced with carbon nanotubes. It's designed for reduced weight, with increased fuel efficiency and range. The boat can sprint at up to 40 knots and has a range of 1,500 nautical miles. The deep V-shaped hull uses an active gyroscope stabiliser for improved handling and reduced human fatigue. Global Maritime Security Solutions plans to use the boats to fight piracy off Africa and elsewhere. They need to get hold of a Global Hawk to help out too. Design News has more.

BANK PHREAKS: A security researcher with iSight Partners demonstrated a series of attacks on touch tone and voice activated phone systems such as those used by banks. He was able to cause an Indian bank to dump customer PINs. The researcher claimed blind SQL injection and buffer overflow attacks could be served to almost any interactive voice response phone system. Malicious users could take advantage of these approaches to capture data or to crash banking systems. While the rest of us just swear at entering 16-digit codes to validate a new bank card. SC Magazine elaborates.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz