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Zaps of Electricity Can Identify Mysterious Molecules

There are about a trillion ways to put six sugar molecules together. Since some sugars signify diseases, telling them apart could lead to better disease detection or medicines. But identifying some molecules, including sugars, usually takes many samples or pricey hardware. So at Arizona State University, researchers are working on a device that could easily identify long molecule chains by how they respond to electricity.   In early lab experiments with a special, chemically-attractive molecule that can coat electrode plates, the researchers were able to elicit unique current spikes from other molecules—making it possible to tell them apart with a…

Hunting for Radio Frequency Interference

RF interference could be causing your dropped calls. Engineers from P3 hunt down the source and shut it off: Every day, Kevin Argentieri tracks down devices that are causing radio-frequency interference, and then tries to persuade their owners to shut them off.   Argentieri works for P3, a company that performs radio-frequency interference hunting for nationwide carriers including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. American carriers pay big bucks to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for exclusive licenses to swaths of the radio-frequency spectrum.   But rogue devices are out there, and it’s Argentieri’s job to find them. He says baby…

Building Alaska’s Internet

This $300 million telecom project will boost speeds or provide service to many areas of Alaska for the first time. TERRA was completed in October after six years of construction when engineers installed its final microwave repeater. The network uses a combination of repeater data links and fiber optics to form a giant, 5,000-⁠kilometer ring around southwest Alaska—a sparsely populated region with few paved roads and wilderness areas larger than West Virginia.  

DIY: Build a Cordless Soldering Iron

Want a temperature-controlled cordless soldering iron? You can’t buy one, but you can build a DIY one for tinkering in the field: Good soldering requires good tools. In particular, a soldering iron that uses feedback to keep the tip at a set temperature works much better than one that doesn’t. That functionality is easy to find in a bench soldering station, but try to find a cordless iron with it, and you’ll be out of luck. This DIY solution solves that problem by marrying the business end of a Weller “Magnastat” soldering iron with a Maglite flashlight.  

Casting a $20 Million Mirror for the World’s Largest Telescope

Building a mirror for any giant telescope is no simple feat. The sheer size of the glass, the nanometer precision of its curves, its carefully calculated optics, and the adaptive software required to run it make this a task of herculean proportions. But the recent castings of the 15-metric ton, off-axis mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope forced engineers to push the design and manufacturing process beyond all previous limits.  

Create Kinect 3D Avatars Using Your Body

Last week, we showed you how Microsoft’s new Kinect API lets you use your hands to draw on a painting program. But how about using gestures to create 3D models of any shape that you can use as Kinect avatars? No problem! That’s exactly what Microsoft Research’s Beijing team showed early this month at the company’s TechFest 2013.  

Kinect Fusion Lets You Build 3D Models of Anything

At Microsoft’s annual TechFest on Tuesday, international research teams had a chance to show off their latest tools, toys, and APIs to each other, and to us. We got a look at everything, including a robot-powered Haptic touch screen, a gesture recognition API from Jamie Shotton, a custom Kinect avatar builder, and lots of real-time 3-D capture software that will be on it’s way to you soon.   Here’s Kinect Fusion, which can live 3-D model anything that will stand still, including me. Brought to you by the Microsoft Research Cambridge team–who also brought you KinEtre.   We’ll be bringing…

Working to Engineer a Better World – Goodbye

The IET has joined forces with ITN Productions to make an online news programme to promote greater understanding of the role engineering plays in our society and economy.   Natasha Kaplinsky presents the programme, Working to Engineer a Better World, which features many different faces of engineering in the 21st Century – demonstrating how important engineering and technology have become to our everyday lives.  

Working to Engineer a Better World – Energy & Efficiency

The IET has joined forces with ITN Productions to make an online news programme to promote greater understanding of the role engineering plays in our society and economy. &n Natasha Kaplinsky presents the programme, Working to Engineer a Better World, which features many different faces of engineering in the 21st Century – demonstrating how important engineering and technology have become to our everyday lives.  

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