Scientists use chaos to build the optimal laser beam

Researchers find a way to distort laser light to survive a trip through disordered obstacles.

Credit: TU Wien
  • Lasers are great for measuring—if they can get a clear view of their target.
  • In biomedical applications, there's often disordered stuff in the way of objects needing measurement.
  • A new technique leverages that disorder to formulate a custom-made, optimal laser light beam.
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From NASA to your table: A history of food from thin air

A fairly old idea, but a really good one, is about to hit the store shelves.

Credit: Brian McGowan/Unsplash/mipan/Adobe Stock/Big Think
  • The idea of growing food from CO2 dates back to NASA 50 years ago.
  • Two companies are bringing high-quality, CO2-derived protein to market.
  • CO2-based foods provide an environmentally benign way of producing the protein we need to live.
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Japanese researchers hope to launch a satellite made of wood in 2023

The satellite would burn instead of becoming more space debris.

Credit: Rumman Amin via Unsplash/Peter Jurik via Adobe Stock/Big Think
  • Orbiting around Earth are hundreds of thousands of bits of space debris.
  • Some of this stuff comes plummeting down eventually, but not enough of it.
  • Wood satellites would burn up in the atmosphere without falling on anyone or anything.
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Diamonds have been created at room temperature in a lab

Australian researchers figure out a new way to apply extreme pressure and squeeze out diamonds.

  • Diamonds aren't just beautiful, they're also excellent at cutting through most anything.
  • Researchers have worked out how to create the gems without the high temperatures that accompany their natural formation.
  • The researchers were able to create two different types of diamonds that also occur naturally.
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Chemists propose spinach as a better, cheaper battery catalyst

While it's always been a boon to Popeye's "muskles," it looks like spinach may also have a role to play in clean future batteries.

Credit: Ataly/Shutterstock
  • Scientists are seeking sustainable, clean chemicals for use in future fuel cell and metal-air batteries.
  • Platinum is the current go-to substance for battery cathode catalysts, but it poses a number of problems, including high cost and instability.
  • Chemists at American University have developed a new high-performance catalyst from simple spinach, although its preparation as a catalyst is anything but simple.
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