Tech

Dinosaurs used the same tricks to hide as modern animals do

THIS fossil dinosaur, called Borealopelta markmitchelli, is about the size of a rhinoceros. It belongs to a group of armoured dinosaurs called ankylosaurs that thrived during the Cretaceous period. Borealopelta itself is from the early Cretaceous, about 110m years ago. It was found in 2011 by a tar-sand miner in Alberta, Canada. Since then, it has been prepared for study ...

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Gene editing may make pigs into organ donors for people

Fresh and CRISPRy “KEEP death off the road”, a Ministry of Transport slogan once enjoined the people of Britain. And it worked. Both driving and being a pedestrian have become far safer over the past few decades in Britain and many other countries. One consequence, though, is a shortage of human organs available for transplant. Waiting lists for such transplants ...

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Atomic power stations out at sea may be better than inland ones

AFTER the events of March 11th 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami led to a meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan, you might be forgiven for concluding that atomic power and seawater don’t mix. Many engineers, though, do not agree. They would like to see more seawater involved, not less. In fact, they ...

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A new ceramic could help hypersonic planes take off

FRICTION burns. And the friction of the air on something travelling at five times the speed of sound burns hot. The leading edge of such an object can easily reach a temperature of 3,000°C. Inconveniently, that is above the melting point of most materials used by engineers, which makes it hard to design things like wings and nose cones for ...

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The search for quicker, cheaper ways of tunnelling

How the past saw the future of tunnelling A BIG hole in the car park at SpaceX’s headquarters in Los Angeles is the first visible evidence of another of Elon Musk’s ventures. Mr Musk who, besides leading SpaceX, a rocket company, also runs Tesla, a maker of electric cars, is going into the tunnelling business. The goal of the Boring ...

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How to make soldiers’ brains better at noticing threats

TWO millivolts is not much. But it is enough to show that someone has seen something even before he knows he has seen it himself. The two millivolts in question are those associated with P300, a fleeting electrical signal produced by a human brain which has just recognised an object it has been seeking. Crucially, this signal is detectable by ...

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A wild idea about paying for conservation

MEERKATS are endearing creatures. Indeed, they are so endearing that they have been turned into characters in a long-running series of advertisements on British television for a price-comparison website. But nothing comes from nothing. Thirty years ago, few non-zoologists would have heard of these social mongooses and the joke would not have worked. The animals were brought to public prominence ...

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A better way to make holograms

HOLOGRAPHY is a useful technology, but somehow faintly disappointing. The fantasy is of a “Star Trek” style holodeck, or even the less ambitious idea of three-dimensional television pictures. The reality, for the man or woman in the street, is smudgy images that act as security features on credit cards, passports and an increasing number of banknotes. Holography does have many ...

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