Gravitational Waves — Since Albert Einstein first predicted their existence a century ago, physicists have been on the hunt for gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime. That hunt is now over. Gravitational waves exist, and we’ve found them.
That’s according to researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), who have been holed up for weeks, working round-the-clock to confirm that the very first direct detection of gravitational waves is real. The LIGO team wanted to be absolutely certain before making an official announcement. Gizmodo hosted a physicist to answer people’s questions, and you can listen to them, too.
~ They’re detected by proxy, so how real is that?
New technique makes GPS accurate to a centimetre — GPS is an utterly pervasive and wonderful technology, but it’s increasingly not accurate enough for modern demands. Now a team of researchers can make it accurate right down to a centimetre.
~ Now you can really find that lost phone.
Smarter AI for your phone — At the IEEE International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, MIT engineers presented a chip designed to use run sophisticated image-processing neural network software on a smartphone’s power budget.
Aerogel from waste paper — Aerogel is usually the preserve of expensive laboratory experiments — but what if you could make it from garbage? Now, a team of researchers has developed a technique to turn scrap paper into an incredibly light, highly insulating super material. It can soak up as much as 90 times its dry weight in crude oil, and 99% of that oil can then be wrung out so that the material can be re-used.
~ And so cheap to transport. But what happens when society becomes paperless? Aerogel from used smartphones and tablets?
Wind energy from trees — The basic idea behind a new energy harvesting platform is to exploit the natural internal resonances of trees within tiny artificial forests capable of generating enough voltage to power sensors and structural monitoring systems.
~ Next challenge: harvesting wind energy from parliament.
Exercise grows brain cells — Researchers have discovered that aerobic exercise may increase neurogenesis. Based on the results, rats that were put on a treadmill grew more brain cells than rats that didn’t. Resistance training seemed to have no effect. This is significant, because the neuron reserve of the hippocampus can be increased, thus preconditions for learning for humans could be improved simply through aerobic exercise.
~ Don’t worry, it also still grows muscle cells.