Making satellites safer: the search for new propellants

The current standard propellant for satellites based on hydrazine, which is highly toxic, so researchers are developing safer alternatives. Image credit - NASA-JPL/Caltech

by Kelly Oakes Developing new propellants for satellites to replace toxic hydrazine would make launching and handling satellites safer but it also requires disrupting current systems, according to researchers. As the number of satellites soars, so will the amount of fuel we use to launch them. And getting into orbit is only half of the equation. … Read more

The story behind that little padlock in your browser

'Transport layer security' means your internet activities are secure on three fronts - authentication, encryption and integrity. Image credit - Pxhere, licenced under CCO

Whenever you see a little padlock in the address bar of your internet browser, as well as when you use apps, email and messaging, you’re relying on something called ‘transport layer security’ or TLS. It’s a protocol that keeps us safe online. Behind that little padlock is cryptographic code that guarantees the security of data … Read more

Categories ICT

The prostheses that could alleviate amputees’ phantom limb pain

When it comes to improving amputees’ quality of life, one of the biggest challenges is making prostheses that feel like a natural part of the user. Image credit - Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Wikimedia Commons

by Ian Le Guillou New prosthetic technologies that stimulate the nerves could pave the way for prostheses that feel like a natural part of the body and reduce the phantom limb pain commonly endured by amputees. Silvestro Micera, a professor of translational neuroengineering at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, has spent the past 20 … Read more

Levitation, touch and sound – how you’ll be able to feel videogames in the future

When ultrasound waves from different emitters meet in mid-air, it creates the sensation of a solid object which could enhance people's videogaming experience. Image credit - Maurizio Pesce, licensed under CC BY 2.0 (brands blurred out)

by Kelly Oakes Despite advances in both virtual and augmented reality technology in the last few years, there’s one area that remains neglected: touch. With your VR headset on, you might be able to explore the sights of a vast forest and hear birdsong all around you, but you won’t feel the dampness of the … Read more

How digital ‘twins’ are guiding the future of maintenance and manufacturing

Digital replicas of infrastructure such as oil platforms could help prevent accidents by spotting potential ruptures before they happen. Image credit - Akselos

by Tom Cassauwers As our world becomes more digitalised and connected, we can actually make a virtual copy of it. And such replicas are now being used to improve real world scenarios, from making aircraft production more accurate to preventing oil spills. A digital twin is a virtual replica of a real life entity, such … Read more