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Cannabis nation?

The path to legal recreational and medical marijuana, as the Trends Research Institute forecast last year, continues to build momentum despite a newly anointed attorney general who erroneously thinks pot is almost as deadly as heroin. If he could, he’d enforce federal laws to criminalize it. Speaking to law enforcement officers in March, Jeff Sessions...


At last, an anti-plastic trend

In the 1967 film “The Graduate,” Mr. McGuire offers sage business advice to young Ben: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word: Plastics.” That one word, uttered during the turbulence of the late 1960s, symbolized the emerging trend of a society looking for better, cheaper and more versatile. Plastics became...


Looming shortage of key minerals

An international team of scientists from five continents is warning of a looming shortage in key minerals used to make electronic and green energy technologies. The team studied supply-and-demand forecasts and lead times in finding and developing new sources of supply for minerals such as copper and iron ore, as well as for rare earth...


Controlling robots with your mind

A human-robot mind-meld has been created by engineers at Boston University at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The researchers used a simple robot with arms, and programmed it to learn on the fly. Then they ran wires from the robot’s controls to electrodes attached to a person’s head. The electrodes picked up electrical signals generated...


Pulling water out of thin air

MIT scientists have devised a way to distill water out of air, even air without much humidity in it, using no energy other than the sun’s. The team uses a box filled with a powdery material that absorbs air into its microscopic pores. When the box is heated – by sitting in sunlight, for example...


Genetically engineered robots?

Bioengineers at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana have built prototypes of living robots – and they’ve just shared their blueprint in a journal so other scientists can build their own. The researchers genetically engineered a line of muscle cells that would contract in the presence of blue light, then 3D-printed the cells in rings that...


Driving on eggshells

About a third of the material in the tires on your car is something called “carbon black.” Derived from petroleum, it strengthens the rubber in tires and wicks away heat to keep the rubber from melting. It’s also what makes tires black instead of the cream color of natural rubber. But carbon black comes from...


Virtual cadavers? Medical VR training expands

A rite of passage in medical school is cutting up a cadaver. But not at Case Western Reserve University’s new doctor college. There, starting in 2019, students will tunnel through a human body using virtual reality. Instead of grabbing a scalpel to learn anatomy, students will don VR goggles and walk around a virtual life-size...


Stopping water leaks before they happen

Aged urban water systems lose huge amounts of water each year – more than 2 trillion gallons annually in the US alone. That amounts to a sixth of the water piped to homes and businesses. In less developed countries, the losses can be even worse. Now Aquarius Spectrum, an Israeli company, says its technology can...

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