Tech

Home-made drones now threaten conventional armed forces

AN ATTACK on Russian forces in Syria on January 5th by 13 home-made drones is a good example of “asymmetric” warfare. On one side, exquisite high-tech weapons. On the other, cheap-as-chips disposable robot aircraft. Ten of the drones involved attacked a Russian airbase at Khmeimim. The other three went for a nearby naval base at Tartus. Rather than being quadcopters, ...

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Searching for lithium deposits with satellites

CORNWALL, a rugged peninsula that forms Britain’s south-western extremity, has a history of mining going back thousands of years. Its landscape is dotted with the ruins of long-closed tin and copper mines, along with mountains of spoil from the extraction of china clay (also known as kaolin), a business that still clings to life today. Now, though, prospectors are back ...

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A strange fossil spider. Or maybe not

THE picture above is of one of the five known specimens of Chimerarachne yingi, a newly discovered arthropod that lived 100m years ago, during the Cretaceous period. It is preserved in amber and was found in the Hukawng Valley amber mines in northern Myanmar. It, and one of the other specimens, are described in a paper that has just been published ...

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New evidence in the search for Amelia Earhart

JULY 2nd of last year marked the 80th anniversary of the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, a pioneering aviatrix (pictured above), and her navigator Fred Noonan over the Pacific Ocean, as they attempted a circumnavigation of the globe in a twin-engined Lockheed Electra monoplane. The many theories about the pair’s demise, aired once more on that occasion, fall into two broad ...

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A new type of solar cell is coming to market

SOMETIMES it takes a while for the importance of a scientific discovery to become clear. When the first perovskite, a compound of calcium, titanium and oxygen, was discovered in the Ural mountains in 1839, and named after Count Lev Perovski, a Russian mineralogist, not much happened. The name, however, has come to be used as a plural to describe a ...

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Preventing passengers in autonomous cars from feeling queasy

EXPECTATIONS are high, among those boosting the idea of self-driving cars, that people will be able to do other things, such as reading, working on a laptop or having a nap, when riding in such a vehicle. But for many that is an unlikely prospect. Apart from those who have no intention of even getting into an autonomous car, which ...

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An idea from the past may make a Severn barrage practical

COMPARED with solar and wind energy, which are booming, tidal power is an also-ran in the clean-energy stakes. But if you did want to build a tidal power station, there are few better sites than the estuary of the River Severn, in Britain. Its tidal range, the difference in depth between high and low tides, of around 15 metres is ...

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