May 06, 2016

How Video Games are Helping Scientists and Other News

By Chelsea German
Video-Gamers Assist with Scientific Breakthroughs 

Often faced with more data than they can analyze, many scientists are now “crowd-sourcing” data analysis in an unconventional way: using video games. Through these video games, which now have hundreds of thousands of players, scientists have received help doing everything from mapping eye retinas to diagnosing tuberculosis, and from improving computer design to cross-indexing disease-related DNA sequences in different species.

World’s Smallest and Most Efficient Engine

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have created the world’s smallest engine. Their working prototype is a million times smaller than an ant. The “nanoscale” engine relies on lasers and gold particles, and is surprisingly powerful.  “We can get 10 nano-Newton forces, about ten to a hundred times more force per unit weight than any known other machine, from jet engines to molecular motors,” according to one of the professors behind the breakthrough.

Self-Driving Cars Will Give Us More Space

In addition to reducing traffic accidents, self-driving cars could free up a remarkable amount of space in cities and towns, according to a recent Gizmodo article. After self-driving cars become common, highways will likely shrink, since self-driving vehicles can travel closer together at high speeds, freeing more space for pedestrian trails, bike lanes, artworks or greenery. Traffic lights and signage could also be reduced or eliminated, creating an unobstructed skyline.

Material That Gets Stronger With Each Hit

Imagine a material that only becomes harder each time a bullet hits it. That may sound like science fiction, but scientists have now created an “adaptive protein crystal,” that thickens upon being stretched instead of thinning as all other known materials do.  The crystals are extremely easy to create, making further research into them simple. Obvious potential applications for the breakthrough include more effective body armor as well as shoes that, instead of wearing out with use, actually become stronger the more they are used.