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

Transparent wood: the building material of the future?

Transparent wood is created by stripping out lignin from wood and replacing it with a polymer.

by Sarah Wild  When Timothée Boitouzet studied architecture in Japan, where buildings need to survive earthquakes, he realised the next smart material might be one that humans have used for thousands of years – wood. ‘In France, we build more with concrete and stone than wood,’ he said. ‘When I was exposed to Japanese building … Read more

Few aeroplanes land automatically but new systems could make this the norm

Almost half of fatal plane accidents happen between final approach and landing. Image credit - Pixabay/ windhaven1077, licensed under Pixabay license

by Jonathan O’Callaghan When it comes to planes cruising through the air, many of us are used to the idea of them flying on autopilot with little or no input from a human pilot as they travel from one destination to another. Landing a plane under autopilot, known as autoland, is a different matter. While … Read more

Basic research to world-changing applications can take 6 months – or 50 years

The science that made smartphones possible was done in the 1940s and 1950s. Image credit - Pixabay/ 7721622, licensed under Pixabay license

All technology and innovation have a science base but to get there requires patience, as the journey from curiosity-driven basic research to a world-changing technology can take six months or 50 years, a panel of Nobel and Kavli prize laureates has said. Professor Ben Feringa, who won a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2016 for his … Read more

Concerns linger over workplace robots, even as they deliver benefits

Robots can already take over some repetitive tasks from human workers, now research focuses on more interaction between the two. Image credit - KUKA Roboter GmbH, Bachmann, the image is in the public domain

People harbour lingering fears about the impact of robots on their jobs and welfare, but machines in the workplace have produced benefits that researchers believe are likely to continue. But for that to happen, challenges such as earning workers’ trust and improving safety and human-robot interaction must be overcome. In the EU, 72% of people are … Read more

AI can help us fight climate change. But it has an energy problem, too

Data centres that store and process algorithms use a lot of energy but there is little discussion about their environmental impact. Image credit - 123net/Wikimedia, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

by Annette Ekin Artificial intelligence (AI) technology can help us fight climate change – but it also comes at a cost to the planet. To truly benefit from the technology’s climate solutions, we also need a better understanding of AI’s growing carbon footprint, say researchers.   AI is changing the way we work, live and solve … Read more