Delicate patterns are burned into wood via electrical charge.
Turns out that all it takes is a little electricity to keep a soap bubble around for a few hours.
Now that the election is blissfully behind us, maybe it's safe to make grand political pronouncements without seeming to be partisan, such as: We Americans used to build big. From the Erie Canal to the transcontinental railroad, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Hoover Dam, from the interstate highway system to putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth, we love to build big things. But what have we done on this monumental scale lately? Many point with pride to our public project penury as saving future generations a hefty bill. But it seems we also are robbing the future of not only monuments to our collective derring-do, but of necessary infrastructure advancements so the world we leave behind doesn't one day simply crumble from our niggling neglect. In this spirit, I have a suggestion for a grand public project — not a visible monument to our achievements, but an invisible one. A grand project that would make us all safer and secure, and rid our landscape of possibly the ugliest intrusion on our scenery: Cables.
It took us humans a long, long time to figure out that electricity is good for blogging, but other living things have been taking advantage of it for ages to do other, more important things like lighting up Christmas trees. Scientists in Denmark have discovered a new sort of bacteria that also use electricity, making a living by acting as microscopic extension cords.
You know why we don't have battery-powered trains? It's because having battery-powered trains would be a silly idea. When you have something that just goes from point A to point B over and over, it makes more sense to make electricity available over the entire stretch, and Siemens is going to try that idea out with trucks on highways.
As if it wasn't already hard enough to find open power outlets in coffee shops or airports, Sony is now developing the next generation of "smart" outlets that will withhold electricity until you authenticate yourself or pay some money. Yay for progress.
It's a solution that seems so obvious its amazing scientists haven't thought of it before. Recently, solar researchers have experimented with using the spiraling pattern found in the florets of sunflowers and daisies to more efficiently channel the sun in concentrated solar plants (CSP) by reducing the area needed for operation.
It's common to see houses with solar panels on the roof harvesting energy to power household electricity, and if lucky the electrical grid. Now, a team from the University of Notre Dame is swinging back around on the idea of solar paint, and using semi-conducting particles to produce energy. This paint would be cheap enough to cover your entire house and turn it into a massive solar powered generator.
Once again, I don't know where this kind of thing was when I was in school, but students at University of Canterbury in New Zealand have built themselves a sort of horizontal, man-made lightning cannon. Oh, did I say cannon? I meant, uh, "research project." Yeah.
What if talking more often and talking louder on your cellphone could actually charge it? Would you stop texting so much? Electrical engineers at the Institute of Nanotechnology at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul are working on converting background noise, music and voice calls from a cellphone into electricity.