Excerpts from science and technology news from around the world

Tabletop accelerator shoots cheap antimatter bullets

Make way for the antimatter gun. A tabletop device just 10 square metres in size can spit out energetic bursts of positrons as dense as those kicked out by the giant particle factories at CERN.

Each positron-packed bullet lasts for just a fraction of a second, so don't expect the tank of your antimatter engine to be filled any time soon. Instead, this smaller, cheaper machine might help labs around the world study deep space objects such as powerful radiation jets squirted out by black holes.

Clean Air Act may have increased tropical storm activity

From the Law of Unintended Consequences and The Clean Air Act, comes this bit of news. Since the 1970s The Clean Air Act has benefited breathing in many American cities with tangible results but it may have had a role in increasing tropical storm activity.

This new paper suggests that the reduction of aerosols and particulates in the atmosphere might have been the main cause of a recent increase in tropical storm frequency in the North Atlantic.

Only clear skies on Google Maps and Earth

To celebrate the sunny days of summer (in the northern hemisphere at least), Google has launched new satellite imagery for its mapping products. This stunning global view is virtually cloud-free and includes refreshed imagery in more locations — giving you an even more accurate and comprehensive view of our planet's landscape.

High-octane bacteria could reduce fuel pump pain with lower biofuel costs

New lines of engineered bacteria can tailor-make key precursors of high-octane biofuels that could one day replace gasoline, scientists at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School report in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

RAPIRO turns your humble Raspberry Pi computer into an adorable robot

We all want a robot we can program to do silly robot things. Unfortunately, those kinds of robots are still darn expensive or just downright inaccessible to home tinkerers (like the PR2). The RAPIRO, a powerful robot kit that costs less than your iPad, could change that.

Three exoplanets discovered orbiting star Gliese 667c, may be habitable

The habitable zone of a nearby star is filled to the brim with planets that could support alien life, scientists announced.

An international team of scientists found a record-breaking three potentially habitable planets around the star Gliese 667C, a star 22 light years from Earth that is orbited by at least six planets, and possibly as many as seven, researchers said. The three planet contenders for alien life are in the star's "habitable zone" — the temperature region around the star where liquid water could exist. Gliese 667C is part of a three star system, so the planets could see three suns in their daytime skies.

New laser shows what substances are made of

A new laser that can show what objects are made of could help military aircraft identify hidden dangers such as weapons arsenals far below.

“For the defence and intelligence communities, this could add a new set of eyes”, said Mohammed Islam, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan.

Compiled by Vasudevan Mukunth

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