Nerd News: Life-saving Equipment, Harnessing Energy, Real Lightsabers and More

Sorry I skipped on my post last week. I was in New York City on vacation, and I had no time to write. I’ll try and make up with it this week with some interesting science news. Here are my latest favorites:

1. NASA worked with Homeland Security to create a device that finds heartbeats in rubble, which will be critical after disasters in which every minute of a rescue operation counts. It detects incredibly tiny motion through 20 feet of concrete. I’m looking forward to hear more about how many lives it saves.

2. A major reason solar and wind power hasn’t gained traction on a smaller, day-to-day level is because the problem of energy storage, which is expensive and therefore not really practical or cost-effective. To turn this issue on its head, startup, Sun Catalytix, developed a long-lasting, safe, inexpensive battery. I hope this makes it to mainstream grids soon, so that consumers can have access to clean power.

3. One day, nuclear waste could fuel nuclear reactors that would power the entire country. Sounds crazy, right? Well, with financial backers like Bill Gates, TerraPower is determined to make it a reality. They just need a country willing to allow the development of a prototype.

4. Sometimes, scientists just like to play around with the materials they have on hand. As unbelievable as it sounds, many discoveries are made this way. Recently, some physicists were playing with photons when they created a molecule that acts like a lightsaber. A lightsaber. I almost died of happiness when I read it. I don’t think they’re planning on developing weapons for Jedi though.

5. Google Street View just gets better and better. From famous art to architecture, you can see interesting things and travel the world while never leaving your house. They recently added a new gem that I’m particularly excited about – now you can explore CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Pretty cool!

That’s it for the week! I have two weddings on the agenda for the weekend. I hope you have something fun planned as well. If I missed a great story or misinterpreted one of the above, let me know in a comment below!

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