Plants aren't typically known for their speed, but the carnivorous Venus flytrap can close its jaw-like leaves in the blink of an eye. Charles Darwin once referred to the Venus flytrap as "one of the most wonderful plants in the world." But despite the plant's notoriety, its closing mechanism remains a mystery 250 years after its discovery.
Can humanoid robots save lives? Will they have the capacity to be our friends? Dennis Hong, founding director of Virginia Tech's Robotics & Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa), is making this happen by teaching robots how to win at soccer and by entering the DARPA Robotics Challenge.
Today in mind-bendingly cool stuff that nanoparticles can do: A team of researchers at Rice University in Texas has demonstrated a mechanism by which they can create steam in just seconds by focusing sunlight on a mixture of water and nanoparticles. This isn't just some artificial means of lowering boiling point either; this solar powered "boiler" can produce steam before the water even gets warm to the touch, without ever bringing the aggregate water to a boil.