Other than some decals and a few extra antennas, there's nothing outwardly remarkable about the white Audi TTS zipping around the track at Thunderhill Raceway, north of Sacramento, Calif. Its tires squeal as it zigs through chicanes. Its engine growls as it tops 120 mph on the straights. The car gets around the 3-mile course in less than 2-1/2 minutes, a time that rivals those posted by professional drivers.

What is remarkable about this car is its driver: There isn't one.

50 micrometer thick membrane can absorb oil, swelling to 20 times its weightby Prachi Patel

A thin membranes made from a web of nanowires might become a promising tool for cleaning up oil spills and removing toxic contaminants from groundwater. When dipped into a mixture of water and oil, the 50-micrometer-thick membrane absorbs the oil, swelling to 20 times its weight.

Typically, oil spills are cleaned up using the same basic technology used 20 years ago. This includes using absorbent materials to sop up traces of oil. Natural sorbents such as hay and cellulose can soak up between 3 and 15 times their weight in oil, while synthetic polymer-based sorbents can absorb up to 70 times their weight. But these materials tend to absorb water as well.

Scientists can now listen to a set of solar wind data that’s usually represented visually, as numbers or graphs. University of Michigan researchers have “sonified” the data. They’ve created an acoustic, or musical, representation of it.

The researchers’ primary goal was to try to hear information that their eyes might have missed in solar wind speed and particle density data gathered by NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer satellite. The solar wind is a stream of charged particles emanating from the sun.

by David Chandler

New message beamed to the stars commemorates Earth’s first attempt to reach out to intelligent aliens

Alien beings on faraway planets may not have noticed, but it’s been 35 years since human beings made the first deliberate effort to send them a message.

In 1974, astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, both working at Cornell University, used the world’s biggest and most powerful radio telescope to transmit a one-of-a-kind three-minute message. It consisted of 1,679 bits — ones and zeroes — and was cleverly designed to produce a simple image revealing something about humans’ size and shape, our solar system, the dish that sent the message, and even the biochemistry of our bodies.

The evolution of NDCX-II

Imagine yourself at the core of Jupiter, a planet 300 times the mass of Earth. At 35,000 degrees Fahrenheit, you and I might think it’s hot in here, but to a physicist it’s merely warm – warm dense matter, to be precise, stuff that hasn’t quite undergone thermonuclear fusion yet.

Warm dense matter exists not only in the interiors of gas giant planets but in other high-temperature, high-pressure regimes as well – in a just-triggered nuclear bomb, for example, or when a fuel capsule in an inertial fusion experiment starts to implode.

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This news service is provided by Good Samaritan Institute, located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

GSI is a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of medical research by improving communication among scientists.