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2015 Top Science Stories

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Science News recaps the 25 most important stories that occurred in 2015, based on their ability to encourage new thoughts and steer ideas in a new direction.  Among those chosen are: gene editing, BPA alternatives, light pollution and plate tectonics.

Pop-Up Greeting Card an Engineering Inspiration

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Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois are looking to pop-up style greeting cards to solve challenges in areas such as tissue regneration and building construction.  3-D fabrication offers alternatives to 3-D printing as it is faster and allows for use of a wide variety of materials.  This technique also incorporates concepts from the Japanese art of paper-cutting known as Kirigami.  The technology would allow for such innovations as creating a full-size pop-up shelter that can be shipped flat.


Solar Panels Look to Moth Eyes for Efficiency

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Funding from the United States Department of Energy allowed researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory to unlock the secrets of moths' eyes thus improving the efficiency of solar panels.  Moth's eyes have a complex antireflective coating that allows them to absorb more light, resulting in better vision with the familiar "night shine" common in most animals.  The resulting material, block copolymer, has proven to be even better than first anticipated, allowing solar panels to better absorb sunlight.

A Battery Revolution

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A New Jersey man is looking to go off-grid in a big way.  Jason Hughes has spent several hundred hours and $20,000 over the past year re-jiggering a 1,400 pound Tesla Model S battery to create his own personal electric company.  He and his fiancee recently moved to North Carolina and are in the process of installing over 100 solar panels at their new home.  His plan is to add a second Tesla battery, enabling them to not only live off the grid, but also store a week's worth of back up power.

Alternative energy sources have driven the recent surge to develop a new generation of batteries capable of storing and deploying the electricity as needed.  Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are among the big names along with a number of start-ups who are all getting involved.

Visit Bloomberg News to learn more.

3-D Printing Increases Accuracy, Reduces Costs

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The Robins Air Force Base in Georgia has been taking advantage of the benefits of using 3-D printing to build samples of replacement aircraft parts, allowing staff to create and test pieces from blueprints to ensure all dimensions are perfect before building the final version.  This saves both time and money, giving the engineers a chance to make any necessary adjustments.

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