Surreal Science: 10 Sensational New Discoveries
Imagine going blind, and having your sight restored using your own tooth – or putting on a helmet that allows other people to read your thoughts. It may sound like the most unlikely of science fiction, but these things are actually possible thanks to the many astounding scientific discoveries made in the past year or so. From medical miracles to properties of quantum mechanics that theoretically put teleportation within reach, these breakthroughs have the potential to transform our world as we know it.
Man Sees Through Eye(Tooth)
Blind for a decade, Englishman Martin Jones is finally able to see again – through a piece of tooth implanted in his eye. Appropriately, the tooth used was a canine, otherwise known as an ‘eyetooth’. Doctors took a piece of Jones’ own living tooth, placed a man-made lens into its core and implanted it under his eyelid where tissue grew over it. A flap of skin excised from inside the patient’s mouth was placed over the tooth in Jones’ eye where it acquired its own blood supply. A hole cut in the new cornea allows light to pass through. The procedure has restored sight to over 600 people worldwide.
Spray-On Solar Panels
Solar panels are typically inflexible and brittle, limiting the versatility of their application. But what if you could just spray solar cells onto any surface and collect energy from the sun? The technology is currently being produced at the University of Texas, where researchers are using nanoparticle “inks” full of tiny photovoltaics made from copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS). These particles are 10,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair. Currently, the photovoltaic ink only converts 1% of the sunlight that reaches it into electricity, but the researchers expect to increase the production and have the technology on the market within three to five years.
Taking Steps Toward Teleportation
From The Fly to Star Trek, teleportation has been a common theme in science fiction for decades – but scientists have actually come closer to making it a reality. A research team at Australian National University have developed a new way to generate quantum entanglement in beams of light using only two parts, linking them together so that when something affects one, it affects the other – regardless of the physical distance between them. Team leader Jiri Janousek says that their method could be used for teleportation as well, but it’ll probably be another 50 years before the technology could be used outside laboratories.
Lost World of Wonders in Volcanic Crater
Researchers discovered an entire lost world of never-before-seen species when they ventured into the incredibly remote, nearly inaccessible crater of the Mount Bosavi volcano in Papua New Guinea earlier this year. In fact, the crater is so remote, it has never before been touched by human influence. The researchers found it remarkably easy to approach the wildlife found within, which showed no fear of the team. A fanged frog, a possum that releases a skunk-like odor when frightened, and a giant wooly rat were among the species discovered.
Solar Panel Shingles
For homeowners that can afford them, the biggest reason not to install rooftop solar panels is often aesthetics: they’re just plain ugly. But, unobtrusive solar panels that blend in nearly effortlessly with the architecture of a home are now within reach. Dow Solar recently announced a new generation of building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roof shingles, and SRS Energy has created powerful solar panels that look just like standard clay roof tiles.
It’s a nightmare for any conspiracy theorist: a telepathy helmet that can be placed on your head so that other people can read your thoughts. But, this technology isn’t just the stuff of Hollywood films – it’s actually being developed for the U.S. military by a team of scientists from three American universities. The goal of the project isn’t to spy on citizens, however. It will be used to read and transmit soldier’s thoughts to each other so that the need for vocal communication is eliminated. Have no fear, say the scientists involved in the project: the person wearing the helmet must put forth a deliberate effort to communicate their thoughts.
T-Rex’s Tiny Ancestor
The Tyrannosaurus Rex is well known as the king of all dinosaurs, a towering menace of a predator that terrorized everything in its path. But this gigantic dino actually evolved from a pint-size predecessor that measured just 8 feet long. A recent report in the journal Science says that Raptorex kriegsteini, which existed 60 million years before the T-Rex, had nearly identical physical features aside from its much smaller size.
Insanely Tiny Laser Beam
Until recently, it was simply impossible to make lasers any smaller than they already are. A beam of light has to bounce around in a chamber in order to focus, and the chamber has to be of a certain size to allow the light to travel. But now, researchers have discovered that lasers could be smaller if they depended on a rapidly vibrating electron situated on top of a minuscule piece of metal instead of a wave of bouncing light. Using this idea, a team at Norfolk State University built the world’s tiniest laser – 1000 times smaller than the width of a hair – on a bead of gold just 44 nanometers across.
Treasure Trove of Bizarre Blind Species Found
Of all the amazing variety of flora and fauna that exist on this planet, we’ve only discovered 2%. Scientists estimate that there’s another 98 million species of plants and animals that we have yet to identify. Scientists who discovered 850 new bizarre and amazing creatures in underground caves and bodies of water barely made a dent in that figure, but what they found is awe-inspiring indeed. Many of the species are blind and lack pigment, since sight and color are unnecessary in the environments in which they live.
Powerful X-Rays Made from Sticky Tape
Sticky tape is good for more than just wrapping gifts: it can actually produce X-rays. The tape emits a faint luminescence when peeled away from its holder – a phenomenon called triboluminescence. A group of researchers at UCLA investigated a claim made by Soviet researchers in the 1950s that unrolling sticky tape also results in the release of X-rays, and found it to be valid, producing pictures of their own finger bones.