The honor of having your own Google Doodle is bestowed upon only a few very special individuals like Gregor Mendel, Alexander Calder and Lucille Ball. Today’s entrant celebrates the 82nd birthday of the late Robert “Bob” Noyce, co-inventor of the microchip. After co-founding Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, he mentored younger engineers to earn the nickname “the Mayor of Silicon Valley.” Surf on over to the Google homepage and you’ll see its logo imprinted over a microprocessor, which Bob helped to birth.
Google doodle celebrates Robert Noyce; Intel co-founder and ‘Mayor of Silicon Valley’ - [Link]
Nanostructure, fluorinated silica coating repels water and oil effectively – [via]
Eyeglasses need never again to be cleaned, and dirty windscreens are a thing of the past! Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz and the Technical University Darmstadt are now much closer to achieving this goal. They have used candle soot to produce a transparent superamphiphobic coating made of glass. Oil and water both roll off this coating, leaving absolutely nothing behind. Something that even held true when the researchers damaged the layer with sandblasting. The material owes this property to its nanostructure. Surfaces sealed in this way could find use anywhere where contamination or even a film of water is either harmful or just simply a nuisance.
A transparent coating that’s very good at repelling water and oil, as is now being presented by the Mainz-based researchers, could not only keep water and dirt away from the lenses in glasses and car windscreens, but also, for example, from the glass facades of skyscrapers. It could also prevent residues of blood or contaminated liquids on medical equipment.
Never wipe your glasses again - [Link]
How the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover) will land
Giant Mars rover set for Saturday launch – [via]
NASA’s biggest and most advanced Mars rover is scheduled for launch Saturday from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Curiosity is packed with 10 science experiments to determine whether Mars has ever been suitable for life and to find clues about past life forms that may have been preserved in rocks. NASA says Curiosity won’t answer the age-old questions about life on Mars, but it will provide important information that will guide future missions.
The launch was originally scheduled for Friday, but the mission team will take an extra day to remove and replace a flight termination system battery, NASA said.
Curiosity is expected to spend about two years roaming Mars, hunting things researchers say are essential for life to grow: liquid water, key chemicals used by living organisms and an energy source.
The rover will blast off Saturday atop an Atlas V rocket and is scheduled to land in August 2012 in the Gale Crater. The first opportunity for launch is 10:02 a.m. EST; the window lasts an hour and 43 minutes.
If the launch is postponed, NASA has until December 18 to get the spacecraft off the ground.
Giant Mars rover set for Saturday launch - [Link]
The US space agency (Nasa) has released the sharpest ever elevation map of the Moon.
It will enable scientists to accurately portray the shape of the entire Moon at a higher resolution than ever before.
The map was produced using data sent back by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, which was launched in June 2009.
It reveals troughs and bumps over nearly the entire Moon with a pixel scale close to 100m (328 ft).
A single measure of elevation (one pixel) on the map is roughly the size of two football pitches placed side-by-side.
“Our new topographic view of the Moon provides the dataset that lunar scientists have waited for since the Apollo era,” said Dr Mark Robinson, chief scientist on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), one of LRO’s instruments.
Dr Robinson, from Arizona State University in Tempe, added: “We can now determine slopes of all major geologic terrains on the Moon at 100m scale, determine how the crust has deformed, better understand impact crater mechanics, investigate the nature of volcanic features, and better plan future robotic and human missions to the Moon.”
NASA Releases Highest Resolution Ever Topographic Moon Map - [Link]
A team at Stanford’s School of Engineering has demonstrated an ultrafast nanoscale light-emitting diode (LED) that is orders of magnitude lower in power consumption than today’s laser-based systems and is able to transmit data at the very rapid rate of 10 billion bits per second.
The researchers say it is a major step forward in providing a practical ultrafast, low-power light source for on-chip data transmission.
Stanford’s Jelena Vuckovic, an associate professor of electrical engineering, and Gary Shambat, a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering, announced their device in a research paper set to be published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. [via]
Nanophotonics LED achieves ultrafast data transmission rates - [Link]
New technology improves both energy capacity and charge rate in rechargeable batteries.
EVANSTON, Ill. — Imagine a cellphone battery that stayed charged for more than a week and recharged in just 15 minutes. That dream battery could be closer to reality thanks to Northwestern University research.
A team of engineers has created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries — rechargeable batteries such as those found in cellphones and iPods — that allows the batteries to hold a charge up to 10 times greater than current technology. Batteries with the new electrode also can charge 10 times faster than current batteries.
The researchers combined two chemical engineering approaches to address two major battery limitations — energy capacity and charge rate — in one fell swoop. In addition to better batteries for cellphones and iPods, the technology could pave the way for more efficient, smaller batteries for electric cars.
The technology could be seen in the marketplace in the next three to five years, the researchers said.
A paper describing the research is published by the journal Advanced Energy Materials.
“We have found a way to extend a new lithium-ion battery’s charge life by 10 times,” said Harold H. Kung, lead author of the paper. “Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today.”
New technology improves both energy capacity and charge rate in rechargeable batteries - [Link]
KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) researchers have developed a new concept for rechargeable batteries. Based on a fluoride shuttle — the transfer of fluoride anions between the electrodes – it promises to enhance the storage capacity reached by lithium-ion batteries by several factors. Operational safety is also increased, as it can be done without lithium. The fluoride-ion battery is presented for the first time in the “Journal of Materials Chemistry” by Dr. Maximilian Fichtner and Dr. Munnangi Anji Reddy.
Lithium-ion batteries are applied widely, but their storage capacity is limited. In the future, battery systems of enhanced energy density will be needed for mobile applications in particular. Such batteries can store more energy at reduced weight. For this reason, KIT researchers are also conducting research into alternative systems. A completely new concept for secondary batteries based on metal fluorides was developed at the KIT Institute of Nanotechnology (INT). [via]
Fluoride increases storage capacity of rechargeable batteries - [Link]
The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics just announced… [via]
“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice…” *
What will be the final destiny of the Universe? Probably it will end in ice, if we are to believe this year’s Nobel Laureates in Physics. They have studied several dozen exploding stars, called supernovae, and discovered that the Universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating rate. The discovery came as a complete surprise even to the Laureates themselves.
In 1998, cosmology was shaken at its foundations as two research teams presented their findings. Headed by Saul Perlmutter, one of the teams had set to work in 1988. Brian Schmidt headed another team, launched at the end of 1994, where Adam Riess was to play a crucial role.
The research teams raced to map the Universe by locating the most distant supernovae. More sophisticated telescopes on the ground and in space, as well as more powerful computers and new digital imaging sensors (CCD, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009), opened the possibility in the 1990s to add more pieces to the cosmological puzzle.
The teams used a particular kind of supernova, called type Ia supernova. It is an explosion of an old compact star that is as heavy as the Sun but as small as the Earth. A single such supernova can emit as much light as a whole galaxy. All in all, the two research teams found over 50 distant supernovae whose light was weaker than expected – this was a sign that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating. The potential pitfalls had been numerous, and the scientists found reassurance in the fact that both groups had reached the same astonishing conclusion.
For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up the Universe will end in ice.
The acceleration is thought to be driven by dark energy, but what that dark energy is remains an enigma – perhaps the greatest in physics today. What is known is that dark energy constitutes about three quarters of the Universe. Therefore the findings of the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physics have helped to unveil a Universe that to a large extent is unknown to science. And everything is possible again.
The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics – accelerating expansion of the Universe - [Link]
ALMA Opens Its Eyes – [via]
Humanity’s most complex ground-based astronomy observatory, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), has officially opened for astronomers. The first released image, from a telescope still under construction, reveals a view of the Universe that cannot be seen at all by visible-light and infrared telescopes. Thousands of scientists from around the world competed to be the first few researchers to explore some of the darkest, coldest, farthest, and most hidden secrets of the Cosmos with this new astronomical tool.
ALMA Opens Its Eyes - [Link]