Glowing Trees

irtree

The blockbuster movie Avatar depicted many inspirational and creative ideas of new forms of life. Imagine if one such idea, the glowing trees providing luminescence in the dark, could become a reality. Modern display and lighting devices use LED for illumination,which includes phosphor powder to simulate light of different wavelengths. These phosphor powders are highly toxic and are expensive. Dr Yen-Hsun Su of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, has led a team that have discovered a way to develop a less toxic substance to replace the phosphor powder which poses a serious threat to human health. This project resulted in bio-LEDs, developed by… read more

Carbon Solar Cells

carbonsolar_news

Solar cells are the greatest hope for mankind with a shortage of fossil fuel. We read a lot about solar cells and improvements in this field but a true revolution in solar cells is not happening. There are many reasons for the gap between solar cells and ordinary man but one of the main handbrakes is the expense of the materials used. Some recent breakthrough research at Stanford University looks promising and will give hope to the solar cell field using an inexpensive substitute, carbon. The research team has successfully built a thin film solar cell prototype which is coated with… read more

Ignorance breeds Damage

Illegal road repair in Africa

In Swaziland, we have a saying that goes “ignorance is akin to blindness”. The same can be said of people who unwittingly cause damage to the environment by engaging in activity which may appear harmless, when in actual fact will have adverse long term consequences. One such activity is occurring in numerous rural communities in Swaziland. In a bid to generate some income, many young men in Swaziland have been effecting road repairs on damaged gravel roads in their communities. What typically happens is that these young men will remove soil from the side of the road to fill up… read more

The Singularity – What Is It?

Staring Into The Singularity

In the near future, science predicts that an event known as ‘The Singularity’ will occur that will permanently change the face of humanity. This event may be anything from the development and manufacturing of sophisticated Artificial Intelligence, to creating virtual worlds in which we spend more time online than we do in real life. Many scientists and technology forecasters assume that we will reach this anomalous paradigm shift sometime around the year 2050. Their predictions on what will catalyze the event differ quite significantly, though most agree it is certainly on the horizon. Already more and more advanced AI’s are… read more

Brighter And Lighter

Full-colour quantum dot displays fabricated by transfer printing

An innovation in LED lighting achieved through the use of quantum dots has greatly increased the efficiency, brightness, lifetime and low turn-on voltage of this energy source. A research team at Seoul National University, South Korea has published their research in a recent issue of Nano Letters. They found that the key to improving the brightness and efficiency of the QLEDs (Quantum Light Emitting Diode) comes from improving the injection of current-carrying electrons and holes into the quantum dots. The more efficiently the electrodes can inject electrons and holes into the quantum dots, the more efficiently QLED can emit light. The anodes… read more

Deep Water Gas Emissions

NOAA

NOAA ocean explorers used an advanced multibeam sonar mapping system on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in November to discover and map the first deep water gas seeps found off the U.S. Atlantic Coast north of Cape Hatteras. The seeps were found at water depths greater than 3,300 feet. Based on preliminary information, scientists believe the seeps are likely emitting methane gas. Locating seeps with this advanced technology will expand opportunities for researchers to study how seeps in the deep ocean environment affect ocean chemistry. NOAA’s use of advanced technology to discover seeps will benefit other agencies, including the U.S. Geological… read more

LifeStraw Saves Lives

LifeStraw purification method

The “LifeStraw” is an invention that could become one of the greatest life-savers in history. LifeStraw is a portable water purification instrument that cleanses surface water and makes it safe for human consumption.  It is a 25 cm long, 29 mm diameter, plastic pipe filter and costs just a few dollars. The original idea was created years ago by Torben Vestergaard Frandsen, but over the years in partnership with The Carter Center and others, the Lifestraw has made clean water a possibility to many. Millions of people die every year because they don’t have clean water to drink. Until now,… read more

Tremors in Hawaii

Tremors on Hawaii

Over 30 small earthquakes shook the island of Hawaii in late December 2012. These tremors are signs of magma moving underground, feeding two ongoing eruptions at Kilauea volcano. A sticky, slow-moving stream of lava called pahoehoe is crossing the coastal plain east of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, dripping into the ocean and creating a delta. The lava flow is 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) wide, according to a statement from the U.S Geological Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory. Lava entering the ocean builds lava deltas. The lava delta and adjacent areas are some of the most hazardous areas on the flow field…. read more

NASA Climate Probe

Climate Probe

NASA is sending an aerial probe over the Pacific Ocean to study climate change. The Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX)  is scheduled to begin flights in between January 16 and March 15. The modified drones will fly 65,000 feet above the ocean and study “unexplored regions of the upper atmosphere for answers to how a warming climate is changing Earth.” The unmanned drones will take flight from Edwards Air Force Base in California, and will be operated by Dryden Flight Research Center. Each flight will take 30-hours. The NASA team is also planning to deploy drones to Guam and Australia… read more

Obama Wants Smarter Windows

President Backs Smart Window

In the first quarter following his re-election, President Obama’s administration is working to emphasise its ‘green’ credentials. President Obama has come up with a Better Buildings national energy efficiency initiative, and building windows are front and center in the plan. Windows have been a thorn in the side of energy efficient building designs, and though they have gotten better at insulation, they are still not at a capability which can be accepted. The Department of Energy is leading the way, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (APRA-E), which is part of the DOE, has awarded a grant of $3 million to… read more