Excerpts from science and technology news from around the world.

Startup plans constellation of tiny monitoring satellites

A San Francisco–based company called Planet Labs announced plans yesterday to launch 28 mini-satellites in a ring around Earth as early as December of this year. The company aims to provide frequent snapshots of the planet, allowing users to track changes—from traffic jams to deforestation—in close to real time.

Is this 3D-printed cast the future of healing bones?

Called the Cortex cast, Jake Evill’s new take on the plaster cast is a 3D-printed brace that follows the contours of the arm. Though still just a concept, Evill’s Cortex will be an injury-localized exoskeleton that is lightweight, washable, ventilated and recyclable. Not bad for a school project. The young designer began by researching the structure of the bone.

He found that the trabecular, the tiny lattice-shaped structures that form the inner tissue of a bone, to be the perfect inspiration.

Telescopic contact lenses designed to treat vision loss

Researchers have created contact lenses with the power to magnify a person’s sight up to 2.8 times.

The lenses can switch between magnification to normal viewing mode through the use of special 3D glasses. A central ring in the lens allows for normal vision; once the user dons specially created 3D glasses – borrowed from the glasses Samsung makes for its 3D televisions – polarizing filters in the glasses will direct and bounce light off a larger ring in the lens that translates to magnified sight.

Canadian accelerator produces a city’s worth of medical isotopes overnight

The looming problem of a global medical isotope shortage is one step closer to a solution. A Canadian team has developed an upgrade that allows hospital cyclotrons to make a much-needed diagnostic tracer, and has proven it can pump out enough overnight to fulfil a city’s needs the next day.

New catalyst could replace platinum for automotive applications

Korean researchers from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea, have recently developed a novel bio-inspired composite electrocatalyst outperforming platinum.