Tech

A memory chip that can compute

Resistance for change ELECTRONICS has long relied on a division of labour. At the heart of myriad devices, from computers and smartphones to drones and dishwashers, a microprocessor can be found busily crunching data. Switch the power off, though, and this chip will forget everything. Devices therefore contain other, different sorts of chips that work as a memory. That is ...

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The 48 uses of dragon’s blood

MYTHOLOGY is rich with tales of dragons and the magical properties their innards possess. One of the most valuable bits was their blood. Supposedly capable of curing respiratory and digestive disorders, it was widely sought. A new study has provided a factual twist on these fictional medicines. Barney Bishop and Monique van Hoek, at George Mason University in Virginia, report ...

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America’s first immigrants had to wait 8,000 years to be admitted

HOW America was originally colonised is a topic of perennial interest at the AAAS. Until recently, the earliest uncontested archaeological evidence of people living in the New World came from Swan Point, in Alaska. This dates back 14,400 years. Linguists, however, maintain that the diversity of native languages in the Americas could not have arisen so quickly. Conventional models of ...

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How to predict and prepare for space weather

SOMETIMES the sun burps. It flings off mighty arcs of hot plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). If one of these hits Earth it plays havoc with the planet’s magnetic field. Such storms are among the most spectacular examples of what astronomers call space weather, a subject to which a session at this year’s meeting of the American Association ...

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Plucking minerals from the seabed is back on the agenda

Crunch time for submarine mining IN THE 1960s and 1970s, amid worries about dwindling natural resources, several big companies looked into the idea of mining the ocean floor. They proved the principle by collecting hundreds of tonnes of manganese nodules—potato-sized mineral agglomerations that litter vast tracts of Davy Jones’s locker. At first sight, these nodules are attractive targets for mining ...

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Fears that California’s huge Oroville Dam will fail have subsided—for now

FOR the past five years, drought-stricken Californians have implored the heavens for rain. Lately, their prayers have been answered more torrentially than many may have wished. This winter is shaping up to be California’s wettest on record. The snowpack on the Sierra Nevada (a crucial water supply for the long, dry summer) is almost double its normal depth, and near-empty ...

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