• CREATED BY national geographic logo



Thanks to this Gel Scaffold, 3D Printing Can Go On Bravely

Printing of Organs, Blood Vessels Could be Next

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but the road to 3D printing of functional human organs just got a little clearer. Because of the complex nature of their patterns and branching networks, organs would collapse beneath their own weight been being printed. Enter researchers at the University of Florida, who created a gel scaffold to support this kind of printing. Ordering up a new kidney is probably a long way off, but the promise is there. This new gel medium is an important step in that direction.



Reclaiming Energy from Braking Trains

Test Program in London turns Braking Energy into Electricity

In an effort to lower their carbon footprint and lower costs, the London Underground is trying out an inverter system on one of its lines. This regenerative breaking will put electricity back into the system, cutting demand for power that would have to otherwise be purchased. Additionally, the process is expected to lower heat in the system, which is a further reduction of power demand. If extended to the entire Underground, the system would save £6m annually, which would be invested back into the trains.



The First Optical Rectenna Turns Light into Power

This New Device Could Change Solar Harvesting Forever

A rectenna is a combination antenna and rectifier… essentially a device that can wirelessly transmit electricity. Now, engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have made one that captures light and turns it into direct current electricity. Of course, we already have photovoltaic panels to convert sunlight into energy, but the nanometer-scale components of the optical rectenna could be able to make the process much more efficient. More efficient AND cheaper. Those are the magic words, but this optical rectenna is still fairly inefficient. Should the efficiency be increased, it could be a positively disruptive solar technology with a host of other photodetection applications.



New Evidence Reveals Flowing Water on Mars

From Present Life to Future Colonization, the Discovery Opens Many Doors

It’s perhaps the biggest science story of the year: there is water on Mars. Thanks to the striking photos from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have confirmed what appear to be briny water flowing through gullies and craters. The source of the water—and its exact chemical contents—are unknown, and likely will be for a long time. Because their sterility cannot be guaranteed, the rovers on planet cannot approach the water for fear of contamination. Still, this incredible discover opens the door for life existing on Mars, even at a microscopic level. And then there’s always the possibility that humans could someday use the water to aid in colonization. It’s truly an incredible discovery.




A New Device is Aiding “Warm” Transplants… and Paving the Way for Better Tech

Organ donation saves thousands of lives every year, but it’s an immensely complicated and tenuous process. Transmedics, a medical-technology company, has developed a device that allows a heart to “stay alive” outside its body, remaining healthy and functioning until it can be transplanted to its new host. The device also allows for transplants from cadavers that have experienced circulatory death – previously only transplants from brain death were possible. The device is already in use in the United Kingdom and Australia.