Science and Technology

KNAU and Arizona News
5:00 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Brain Food: Harvesting Energy

As part of an NAU research project, a bird wears a transmitter powered by its own movement.
Credit Courtesy photo

When a bird flaps its wings or a seal dives into the ocean, it’s generating energy. Michael Shafer, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering at Northern Arizona University, says it’s possible to harvest the energy that an animal produces and use it to power transmitters that collect information for biologists.

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KNAU and Arizona News
8:39 am
Thu June 12, 2014

Brain Food: Space Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly Comes to Flagstaff

Former commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavor Mark Kelly.
Credit Politico

Astronaut Mark Kelly says New York’s Times Square is the brightest place on Earth when looking down from space. After that, the next brightest is the Strip in Las Vegas. What may not be readily seen from space is Flagstaff, the first International Dark Sky City. That’s a designation he and his wife, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, fully support. Kelly recently spoke on the campus of Northern Arizona University.

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KNAU and Arizona News
4:32 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Brain Food: The Alter G Treadmill...Like Running In Space

Physical Therapy Professor Dirk de Heer on the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill
Credit Bonnie Stevens/KNAU

A machine that helped astronauts get used to what it feels like to walk in space is now being used at Northern Arizona University. Physical Therapy Professor Dirk de Heer says the Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill teaches students about biomechanics.

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KNAU and Arizona News
6:00 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Brain Food: Rethinking Energy Storage and Design with Smart Materials


In the near future, so-called smart materials may eliminate the need for batteries in hybrid cars and in solar panels. Cornell Ciocanel is a mechanical engineer at Northern Arizona University. He’s developing a new smart material that’s strong enough to be used in the body of a car and also stores electricity like a battery.

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KNAU and Arizona News
8:32 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Brain Food: Ice Age Art

Ekkehart Malotki with the Ice Age petroglyphs in Utah.
Credit Courtesy of Ekkehart Malotki

A Northern Arizona University professor emeritus says he’s never seen anything like a recent find in the Utah desert. This, despite 25 years spent studying rock art at thousands of sites. Retired ethnolinguist Ekkehart Malotki is researching what could be the oldest known realistic engravings of Columbian mammoths in the Western Hemisphere: petroglyphs from the Ice Age near the San Juan River.

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KNAU and Arizona News
5:00 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Brain Food: Bagging an Asteroid

NAU astronomy and physics professor David Trilling is helping NASA find an asteroid to bring back home.
Credit Courtesy photo

NASA wants to catch an asteroid, place it into orbit around the Earth, and send astronauts to retrieve pieces of it for scientific study. The agency just needs the right asteroid. NASA has asked Northern Arizona University astronomer David Trilling, one of the world’s foremost asteroid experts, to find it — a task much easier said than done.

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KNAU and Arizona News
9:19 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Brain Food: The Future is Here in the Form of 3D Printing

A 3D printer-created sculpture by David Winslow Van Ness
Credit Photo courtesy of David Winslow Van Ness

Suppose you need a wrench, or a knee replacement, or a hamburger. David Winslow Van Ness says, not a problem. In the not-too-distant future, just print one out.

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KNAU and Arizona News
5:15 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Brain Food: Valentine's Day In The Natural World

Credit Trees For Life

As we get ready to celebrate Valentine's Day, Northern Arizona University ecology professor Nancy Collins Johnson reminds us that we can learn a lot about relationships from nature. Collins is a soils expert who studies mycorrhizal symbiosis - or, healthy relationships between fungi and the roots of plants.

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KNAU and Arizona News
9:18 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Brain Food: The Discovery Channel Telescope

The Discovery Channel Telescope
Credit Len Bright/Lowell Observatory

The highly sensitive camera of Lowell Observatory's Discovery Channel Telescope is painting a brighter picture of faint objects in the universe.

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KNAU and Arizona News
9:34 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Brain Food: Spring-Loaded Muscles

Regents' Professor Kiisa Nishikawa with her former post-doc Ted Uyeno, now a professor at Valdosta State University.
Credit Danielle Borth, NAU Office of Public Affairs

A Northern Arizona University regents’ biology professor is studying how the speed with which frogs catch insects can improve the mechanics of artificial limbs for humans. Kiisa Nishikawa has discovered the connection is a protein called titin. It essentially enables muscles to “think,” reacting in milliseconds, rather than waiting for a signal from the brain.

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