Archive for the science Category

1 | A Simple Solar Oven Makes Salt Water Drinkable | Co.Design: business + innovation + design

Posted in environment, science, technology with tags , on August 27, 2012 by SpenceG


It functions by filling the black boiler with salty sea water in the morning, then tightening the cap. As the temperature and pressure grows, steam is forced downwards through a connection pipe and collects in the lid, which acts as a condenser, turning the steam into fresh water. Once Diamanti established the fundamentals were sound, he experimented with a series of concepts for the aesthetic of the object. “My goal was to design something friendly and recognizable for the users,” he explains. “The process developed quite naturally to determine the current shape; every detail is there for a reason, so the form, as well as production techniques, represent a compromise between technical and traditional.” Primary field studies in sub-Saharan Africa revealed the habit of carrying goods on the head–also a common practice in other areas around the world–and this was integrated into Eliodomestico’s plan. And while solar stills aren’t a totally new concept, Diamanti says it’s rare to find them in a domestic context rather than in missions or hospitals, or as large plants overseen by qualified personnel that serve entire communities. “I tried to make something for a real household that could be operated directly by the families,” he says.

via 1 | A Simple Solar Oven Makes Salt Water Drinkable | Co.Design: business + innovation + design.

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Woman’s missing digits grow back in phantom form – health – 10 August 2012 – New Scientist

Posted in science with tags , , on August 10, 2012 by SpenceG

A woman born missing a finger and a thumb has grown them back – albeit as part of a phantom limb. This extraordinary occurrence shows that our brain contains a fully functional map of our body image, regardless of what our limbs actually look like.

The woman, RN, was born with just three fingers on her right hand. Aged 18, RN had the hand amputated after a car accident. She later began to feel that her missing limb was still present, and developed a “phantom” hand.

“But here’s the interesting thing,” says Paul McGeoch at the University of California, San Diego. “Her phantom hand didn’t have three digits, it had five.”

via Woman’s missing digits grow back in phantom form – health – 10 August 2012 – New Scientist.

Soft autonomous robot inches along like an earthworm – MIT News Office

Posted in science with tags , on August 10, 2012 by SpenceG

Earthworms creep along the ground by alternately squeezing and stretching muscles along the length of their bodies, inching forward with each wave of contractions. Snails and sea cucumbers also use this mechanism, called peristalsis, to get around, and our own gastrointestinal tracts operate by a similar action, squeezing muscles along the esophagus to push food to the stomach.

Now researchers at MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University have engineered a soft autonomous robot that moves via peristalsis, crawling across surfaces by contracting segments of its body, much like an earthworm. The robot, made almost entirely of soft materials, is remarkably resilient: Even when stepped upon or bludgeoned with a hammer, the robot is able to inch away, unscathed.

Sangbae Kim, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, says such a soft robot may be useful for navigating rough terrain or squeezing through tight spaces.

via Soft autonomous robot inches along like an earthworm – MIT News Office.