Monday, April 25, 2011
A pair of Spanish engineers have recently unveiled the dAlH2Orean (see what they did there?), a R/C car that runs on aluminum. Dropping a few soda can tabs into a tank of sodium hydroxide produces enough hydrogen to power the little speedster for 40 minutes – at almost 20mph.
More @ Engadget
In a solar cell, sunlight hits a light-harvesting material, causing it to release electrons that can be harnessed to produce an electric current. The new MIT research, published online this week in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, is based on findings that carbon nanotubes — microscopic, hollow cylinders of pure carbon — can enhance the efficiency of electron collection from a solar cell's surface.
Previous attempts to use the nanotubes, however, had been thwarted by two problems. First, the making of carbon nanotubes generally produces a mix of two types, some of which act as semiconductors (sometimes allowing an electric current to flow, sometimes not) or metals (which act like wires, allowing current to flow easily). The new research, for the first time, showed that the effects of these two types tend to be different, because the semiconducting nanotubes can enhance the performance of solar cells, but the metallic ones have the opposite effect. Second, nanotubes tend to clump together, which reduces their effectiveness.
And that’s where viruses come to the rescue. Graduate students Xiangnan Dang and Hyunjung Yi — working with Angela Belcher, the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, and several other researchers — found that a genetically engineered version of a virus called M13, which normally infects bacteria, can be used to control the arrangement of the nanotubes on a surface, keeping the tubes separate so they can’t short out the circuits, and keeping the tubes apart so they don’t clump.
(...) In their tests, adding the virus-built structures enhanced the power conversion efficiency to 10.6 percent from 8 percent — almost a one-third improvement.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
UPDATE: Turns out this was not Lady Gaga's decision. Her manager was speaking "for her", out of order. She has since sent her approval in to Al.
"was really hoping that this blog entry would be all about me announcing the release date of my new album.
Sadly, it’s not.
In a metaphorical nutshell, here’s what happened.
I wrote and recorded what I thought was going to be the first single off of my new album: a parody of “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga called “Perform This Way.” But after hearing it, Lady Gaga decided not to give me permission to release the song, so… it won’t be coming out commercially anytime in the near future. Sorry."
More @ AL'S BLOG:
A dramatic and surprising magnetic effect of light discovered by University of Michigan researchers could lead to solar power without traditional semiconductor-based solar cells.The researchers found a way to make an "optical battery," said Stephen Rand, a professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Physics and Applied Physics.
In the process, they overturned a century-old tenet of physics (...)
Light has electric and magnetic components. Until now, scientists thought the effects of the magnetic field were so weak that they could be ignored. Rand and his colleagues found that at the right intensity, when light is traveling through a material that does not conduct electricity, the light field can generate magnetic effects that are 100 million times stronger than previously expected. Under these circumstances, the magnetic effects develop strength equivalent to a strong electric effect.More @ Michigan Today