I know that for more than a few of you, as soon as you hear the word "nanotech" your eyes glaze over and you fumble for the mouse.
But don't touch that mouse. Nanotech has come a long way and is becoming one of the most incredible technology stories of the decade, if not the century.
For example, what if I were to tell you that there's a microbe that has been discovered that actually produces gold? Nuts, right?
Well thanks to our ability to see how microbes interact with their environment, stunning stories like this one from Nature Chemical Biology in New Scientist are showing up:
Usain Bolt Has Nothing on This Cutting-Edge New Robot
Usain Bolt, the world's fastest human, has nothing on the Cheetah.
No, not the animal.
I'm talking about the four-legged robot built by the research division of the Pentagon known as DARPA. Their Cheetah robot recently clocked in at 28.30 miles per hour.
To be sure, the bot had a slight edge - it ran on a treadmill. Bolt was running on a track when he set the speed record for man at 27.78 mph.
Still, researchers say the Cheetah's new speed record shows that robots are becoming ever more agile. DARPA wants to use the bots to traverse tough terrain, like debris, ditches, and rocks.
Meantime, remember how I told you back in July about the robofish that could help save the oceans?
Next up are "coralbots." These diving ocean bots are designed to work in "swarms," like bees or ants. They may sound menacing but are being put to good use - saving the coral reefs.
Reefs are underwater living organisms essential to healthy life in the oceans. They make up some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and do a lot to protect our shorelines. And they are in danger, not only from pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but from overfishing, disease, agricultural runoff, a rising sea temperature, and ocean acidification.
That's why researchers in the U.K. are programming the bots to work in swarms to find coral fragments and re-cement them to the reef, restoring the structures. They will start work in the cold, deep waters off Scotland - a stretch often too challenging for humans.
Of course, these weren't the only fascinating high-tech advance I came across this month.
Here are some others that will blow you away....
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Nanotech Breakthrough Delivers "Cleaner" Oil
A recent nanotech breakthrough means we won't have to rely on wind and solar as the main ways to fuel the coming Green Economy - to drive our cars and trucks and planes and keep our factories running.
And that's a huge relief.
You see, there's a problem with "clean energy".
Nothing in the world today can compete with the power provided by oil.
At present, it only takes a few barrels of oil to match the power a big windmill or a massive array of solar panels can provide.
And efficiency is just one problem. Unlike oil, it's very difficult to store clean energy to use (after the sun goes down or when the wind refuses to blow).
On the other hand, drilling for oil poses big risks. We want to keep our land and water clean and need to protect ourselves from the huge damage oil spills do to the environment.
Those safeguards, however, raise the cost of drilling and the price you pay at the pump. But what if you could drill for oil without concern for spills?
It would provide a boon to the entire U.S. economy and reduce our need for oil imports. We could save billions a year at the pump, lower the cost of making U.S. products, and create millions of jobs in the process.
No doubt, that would be a game changer...
That's why I'm happy to report that researchers recently invented tiny sponges that can soak up huge amounts of oil.
I predict that, in as little as a decade, these "nanosponges" will help the U.S. become more energy independent.
Too bad clean-up crews didn't have these two years ago to soak up the 200 million gallons of oil BP spilled in the Gulf of Mexico.
That was a big job, but these tiny new sponges - much smaller than a single human hair - could have handled it. In fact, their miniscule size is what gives these sponges their huge advantage. It's hard to imagine making sponges any smaller. After all, you can't see them individually without the aid of a powerful microscope.
Yet they can soak up many times their own mass... It's almost like being able to drain a swimming pool with an ordinary kitchen sponge.
Not only that, these sponges resist damage. You can actually abuse them without the material breaking down. Consider that a team of researches "squeezed" the sponges 10,000 times in the lab and found that they remained elastic and ready for use.
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