Snowflakes photographed by new high-speed camera

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In the late 1800's, Wilson Bentley and Gustav Hellmann began photographing snowflakes. Their photos would go on to spark the public's fascination with snowflakes. Today University of Utah engineer Cale Fallgatter and atmospheric scientist Tim Garrett are using a new camera system that photographs free-falling snowflakes. The technology behind the camera that revealed the intricate, imperfect beauty of snowflakes can now expose their potential danger. About three years ago, a new...

Ultrafast lasers and Archimedes - Scientists & Engineers on Sofas (and other furnishings)

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When it comes to ultrafast lasers, Margaret Murnane’s name is one of the best known for her work in this field of science. Since 1999, she has been a professor at the University of Colorado’s NSF-funded JILA Physics Frontier Center, where she and her husband Henry Kapteyn pioneer research in ultrafast x-ray science. Additionally, the two also own a small laser company. Margaret is credited with building one of the fastest lasers ever, operating in matters of merely femtoseconds. After a...

Smart vents to save energy – CES 2015

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NSF-funded small business Keen Home has developed a smart vent that opens and closes to reduce uncomfortable hot and cold spots, save energy in unused rooms, and tailor a home’s heating and cooling to fit specific lifestyles. The new wireless system will respond automatically based on users’ habits and presence. Keen Home co-founder Nayeem Hussain explains how the smart vents integrate into daily life. Keen Home is funded through NSF’s Small Business Innovation Research program....

NSF and Popular Science announce 2015 Vizzies winners

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The Vizzies celebrates the use of visual media to clearly and accessibly communicate scientific data and research. It recognizes the finest illustrations, photographs, videos, graphics and apps, whether produced by academic researchers, artists or hobbyists.

Autonomous robot does laundry

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People typically consider doing the laundry to be a boring chore. But laundry is far from boring for artificial intelligence (AI) researchers like Siddharth Srivastava, a scientist at the United Technologies Research Center, Berkeley. To AI experts, programming a robot to do the laundry represents a challenging planning problem because current sensing and manipulation technology is not good enough to identify precisely the number of clothing pieces that are in a pile and the number that...

Engineering the spark that starts wildfires

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Hot metal fragments can be created from power lines, overheated brakes, railway tracks, or any other manner of metal-on-metal action in our industrialized society. The particles can reach more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, around the boiling point of most metals. Although these bits cool as they fall to the ground, they can ignite a flame that quickly spreads if they land on a prime fuel source like pine needles or dry grass. At least 28,000 fires occur each year in the U.S. due to...

Shoe-based tech helps amputees get extra mileage out of physical therapy - CES 2015

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It looks like Fitbit for feet, but it’s actually Google for gait, according to Stacy Bamberg, CEO and founder of Veristride. Veristride, a small business funded by NSF’s SBIR/STTR program, is developing tools to help amputees rehab faster with gait analytics. Wearable insoles pair with walking data analytics to provide people with information about how they walk to improve their performance. At the 2015 International CES, Bamberg explained how the tech may help people track their...

Light-based virus detection - CES 2015

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NSF-funded small business Nexgen Arrays is developing tests for the detection of viruses, including Ebola, Lassa, and Marburg, directly from blood, near the site of patient care. These tests are based on technology designed to rapidly detect a broad array of pathogens in a simple, easy-to-use test format. The tech grew out of the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center, which develops new applications for health, productivity and energy savings. David Freeman, CEO of NexGen Arrays,...

Heat and motion-powered wearable electronics for improved health - CES 2015

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At NSF-funded Engineering Research Centers across the United States, interdisciplinary university teams turn knowledge into new systems technologies. Working closely with industry and regional stakeholders, the centers ultimately aim to commercialize technological innovations. At International CES 2015, members of the NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) demonstrated nanotech-enabled, wearable health...

Self-powered device measures lung function - CES 2015

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A portable device powered by a simple breath can measure lung function and transmit results to your phone. The 3-D printed device is designed to enable people with lung conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to gauge their lung function without having to visit a clinic. The technology, developed by a student at the NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST), is one of...