Tech

A new type of solar cell is coming to market

SOMETIMES it takes a while for the importance of a scientific discovery to become clear. When the first perovskite, a compound of calcium, titanium and oxygen, was discovered in the Ural mountains in 1839, and named after Count Lev Perovski, a Russian mineralogist, not much happened. The name, however, has come to be used as a plural to describe a ...

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Preventing passengers in autonomous cars from feeling queasy

EXPECTATIONS are high, among those boosting the idea of self-driving cars, that people will be able to do other things, such as reading, working on a laptop or having a nap, when riding in such a vehicle. But for many that is an unlikely prospect. Apart from those who have no intention of even getting into an autonomous car, which ...

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An idea from the past may make a Severn barrage practical

COMPARED with solar and wind energy, which are booming, tidal power is an also-ran in the clean-energy stakes. But if you did want to build a tidal power station, there are few better sites than the estuary of the River Severn, in Britain. Its tidal range, the difference in depth between high and low tides, of around 15 metres is ...

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Genes play a role in the likelihood of divorce

THAT the children of divorced parents are more likely, when they grow up, to get divorced themselves is well known. What is not known is how much this tendency is the result of nurture (with children manifesting, in later life, behaviours learned from their parents), and how much it is caused by nature (with children inheriting from divorced parents the ...

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Music may be the food of love, but oddly, is not its language

A lullaby in any language “WHERE words fail, music speaks.” Though these words, from the pen of Hans Christian Andersen, are an appealing notion, the idea that there might be universals in music which transcend cultural boundaries has generally been met with scepticism by scholars working in the field. That scepticism may, however, be unwarranted, for research published in Current ...

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Some of Nature’s strangest mammals are also some of the most threatened

PANGOLINS are a smuggler’s dream. For defence, and when asleep, they roll themselves up into spheres, scales on the outside, to thwart any predator. That makes them easy to handle and pack. And handled and packed they have been, in enormous numbers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, a worldwide wildlife-preservation organisation, reckons that more than 1m pangolins were ...

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Silencing a sonic boom would help a Concorde replacement

Tomorrow, yesterday WHEN a British Airways Concorde travelling from New York touched down at Heathrow airport, in London, on October 24th 2003, supersonic passenger travel came to an end. Concorde was a technological marvel, but never a commercial success. Only 14 of them entered service. Yet the idea of building a successor has never quite gone away. Aircraft-makers review the ...

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Livers for transplant can now be kept alive at body temperature

Now for a bit of metra-analysis WHEN Constantin Coussios, a biomedical engineer at Oxford University, arrived one day in 2013 at the transplant centre of King’s College Hospital, in London, with a liver for their use, he triggered a brief flurry of panic. Two other livers had arrived at the same time. The hospital had only one operating theatre in ...

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