Cool science from around the world


Krakoan native
Oct 31, 2006
Reaction score
Hi everyone, I thought I should start a thread about cool advancements in science. It would be great if you could contribute too and maybe we can make it as popular as the lolpics thread?

British firm produces liquid fuel from water and thin air

Air Fuel Synthesis (AFS), a small firm in Stockton-on-Tees, UK, has succeedin in synthesizing gasoline from water and carbon dioxide (CO2) extracted from air. The Independent reported on Friday that the company has manufactured five liters of gas since August using a small refinery at its demonstrator plant. While that is a small volume to start with, AFS plans larger demonstrations and commercial-scale production. Essentially, the process will allow renewable energy to be converted into usable fuel in a sustainable carbon-neutral process.
Tim Fox, head of energy and the environment for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in London, told The Independent: “It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. They are doing it and I’ve been up there myself and seen it. The innovation is that they have made it happen as a process. It’s a small pilot plant capturing air and extracting CO2 from it based on well-known principles. It uses well-known and well-established components, but what is exciting is that they have put the whole thing together and shown that it can work.”
AFS admits that “For some people, reading some of the more lurid reports perhaps, the process seems just too good to be true.” However, the company insists that “we are serious scientists, engineers and business people” with a process that really works and that can be scaled up to commercial levels of production. Independent engineering analysis has confirmed that “a 1-tonne a day production plant taking carbon from a point source such as a brewery, distillery or aerobic digestor (which can be built within 18-24 months of funding) can be competitive with equivalent specialist fossil fuels and commercially viable.” Not only that, the company says, “an AFS plant will be non-polluting and provide a secure supply of fuel from a containerized unit located wherever required.”
AFS company materials say that its process “captures carbon dioxide and water from the air, electrolyzes the water to make hydrogen, and reacts the carbon dioxide and hydrogen together to make hydrocarbon fuels.” All components of the system are available now as either off-the-shelf components or demonstrations.
Paul Marks, writing for New Scientist, cautions that, in spite of the promise of the new technology, its energy efficiency has yet to be proven. Douglas Stephan, a chemist in Canada who is researching the production of fuel from CO2, tells Marks, “Until a detailed assessment of the energy efficiency is enunciated, I would remain skeptical about this technology.” That apparently isn’t going to be done until AFS has had a chance to build a larger demonstration plant allowing for evaluation of this key question.

Titan Supercomputer Debuts: Computer Churns Through More Than 20,000 Trillion Calculations Each Second


ScienceDaily (Oct. 29, 2012) — The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory has just launched a new era of scientific supercomputing with Titan, a system capable of churning through more than 20,000 trillion calculations each second -- or 20 petaflops -- by employing a family of processors called graphic processing units first created for computer gaming. Titan will be 10 times more powerful than ORNL's last world-leading system, Jaguar, while overcoming power and space limitations inherent in the previous generation of high-performance computers.
Share This:

See Also:
Computers & Math


Titan, which is supported by the Department of Energy, will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, climate change, efficient engines, materials and other disciplines and pave the way for a wide range of achievements in science and technology.
The Cray XK7 system contains 18,688 nodes, with each holding a 16-core AMD Opteron 6274 processor and an NVIDIA Tesla K20 graphics processing unit (GPU) accelerator. Titan also has more than 700 terabytes of memory. The combination of central processing units, the traditional foundation of high-performance computers, and more recent GPUs will allow Titan to occupy the same space as its Jaguar predecessor while using only marginally more electricity.
"One challenge in supercomputers today is power consumption," said Jeff Nichols, associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences. "Combining GPUs and CPUs in a single system requires less power than CPUs alone and is a responsible move toward lowering our carbon footprint. Titan will provide unprecedented computing power for research in energy, climate change, materials and other disciplines to enable scientific leadership."
Because they handle hundreds of calculations simultaneously, GPUs can go through many more than CPUs in a given time. By relying on its 299,008 CPU cores to guide simulations and allowing its new NVIDIA GPUs to do the heavy lifting, Titan will enable researchers to run scientific calculations with greater speed and accuracy.
"Titan will allow scientists to simulate physical systems more realistically and in far greater detail," said James Hack, director of ORNL's National Center for Computational Sciences. "The improvements in simulation fidelity will accelerate progress in a wide range of research areas such as alternative energy and energy efficiency, the identification and development of novel and useful materials and the opportunity for more advanced climate projections."
Titan will be open to select projects while ORNL and Cray work through the process for final system acceptance. The lion's share of access to Titan in the coming year will come from the Department of Energy's Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment program, better known as INCITE.
Researchers have been preparing for Titan and its hybrid architecture for the past two years, with many ready to make the most of the system on day one. Among the flagship scientific applications on Titan:
Materials Science The magnetic properties of materials hold the key to major advances in technology. The application WL-LSMS provides a nanoscale analysis of important materials such as steels, iron-nickel alloys and advanced permanent magnets that will help drive future electric motors and generators. Titan will allow researchers to improve the calculations of a material's magnetic states as they vary by temperature.
"The order-of-magnitude increase in computational power available with Titan will allow us to investigate even more realistic models with better accuracy," noted ORNL researcher and WL-LSMS developer Markus Eisenbach.
Combustion The S3D application models the underlying turbulent combustion of fuels in an internal combustion engine. This line of research is critical to the American energy economy, given that three-quarters of the fossil fuel used in the United States goes to powering cars and trucks, which produce one-quarter of the country's greenhouse gases.
Titan will allow researchers to model large-molecule hydrocarbon fuels such as the gasoline surrogate isooctane; commercially important oxygenated alcohols such as ethanol and butanol; and biofuel surrogates that blend methyl butanoate, methyl decanoate and n-heptane.
"In particular, these simulations will enable us to understand the complexities associated with strong coupling between fuel chemistry and turbulence at low preignition temperatures," noted team member Jacqueline Chen of Sandia National Laboratories. "These complexities pose challenges, but also opportunities, as the strong sensitivities to both the fuel chemistry and to the fluid flows provide multiple control options which may lead to the design of a high-efficiency, low-emission, optimally combined engine-fuel system."
Nuclear Energy Nuclear researchers use the Denovo application to, among other things, model the behavior of neutrons in a nuclear power reactor. America's aging nuclear power plants provide about a fifth of the country's electricity, and Denovo will help them extend their operating lives while ensuring safety. Titan will allow Denovo to simulate a fuel rod through one round of use in a reactor core in 13 hours; this job took 60 hours on the Jaguar system.
Climate Change The Community Atmosphere Model-Spectral Element simulates long-term global climate. Improved atmospheric modeling under Titan will help researchers better understand future air quality as well as the effect of particles suspended in the air.
Using a grid of 14-kilometer cells, the new system will be able to simulate from one to five years per day of computing time, up from the three months or so that Jaguar was able to churn through in a day.
"As scientists are asked to answer not only whether the climate is changing but where and how, the workload for global climate models must grow dramatically," noted CAM-SE team member Kate Evans of ORNL. "Titan will help us address the complexity that will be required in such models."

I love how it got nicknamed Skynet :woot:
Actroid-F ultra-realistic male and female android robots can now see and make eye contact

The Seapenis also has the uncanny ability to spray arcing ropes of protein into the eyes of it's enemies!
Actroid-F ultra-realistic male and female android robots can now see and make eye contact


That's amazing!

Robots are creepy but they would make a huge amount of a difference to the world!

Thanks for posting that Kane
This deserves to be shared


I guess we're not allowed to post pics of sea anemones anymore? :huh:
Netherlands highways will glow in the dark from mid 2013!

A smart-road design that features glow-in-the-dark tarmac and illuminated weather indicators will be installed in the Netherlands from mid-2013.
“One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave,” the designer behind the concept, Daan Roosegaarde, told “I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of us.”
The Smart Highway by Studio Roosegaarde and infrastructure management group Heijmans won Best Future Concept at the Dutch Design Awards, and has already gone beyond pure concept. The studio has developed a photo-luminising powder that will replace road markings — it charges up in sunlight, giving it up to 10 hours of glow-in-the-dark time come nightfall. “It’s like the glow in the dark paint you and I had when we were children,” designer Roosegaarde explained, “but we teamed up with a paint manufacturer and pushed the development. Now, it’s almost radioactive”.
Special paint will also be used to paint markers like snowflakes across the road’s surface — when temperatures fall to a certain point, these images will become visible, indicating that the surface will likely be slippery. Roosegaarde says this technology has been around for years, on things like baby food — the studio has just upscaled it.

Stories like these are why I love science so much. Brilliantly simple ideas which make you think "why didn't I think of that" and make you wonder about the future!

Users who are viewing this thread

monitoring_string = "afb8e5d7348ab9e99f73cba908f10802"