Technology

Innovations that shape our world

Since early humans first tended fires and sharpened spears, we’ve sought to apply our knowledge to shape the natural world to suit our needs. Here we chronicle the promise and pitfalls of this basic human drive in all its present day manifestations – from robots and AI to nanotechnology and materials to devices, transportation, engineering and manmade disasters.

Milk proteins grown in the laboratory could be a more sustainable alternative to the cow’s udder, but the science behind it is still maturing.
Benjamin Plackett, Contributor
Laser etching on food-safe pigments can create 2D images that appear 3D.
Charles Q. Choi, Contributor
Using a bouncy platform instead of a vibrating tip may allow MRI machines to image a single virus.
Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer
Miniature aircraft, powered by light, might offer new ways to explore the atmosphere of Earth -- or other planets.
Katharine Gammon, Contributor
The microscopic lens bends light to quicken data transfer in computers.
Tess Joosse, Contributor
By collecting blowflies and analyzing their gut contents, researchers hope to peek at sites that are difficult or dangerous to access.
Nala Rogers, Staff Writer
Scientists find that aerogels may make effective, ultralightweight noise barriers.
Catherine Meyers, Editor
Researchers use infrared light and sophisticated statistics to recognize origin of blood left at possible crime scenes.
Charles Q. Choi, Contributor
New single-pixel device borrows materials from solar cells to replicate the behavior of a biological retina as part of its fundamental design.
Charles Q. Choi, Contributor
Haptic training could help expert musicians and top athletes break through their performance ceilings.
Tom Metcalfe, Contributor
Scientists can identify plants by the light they reflect.
Tess Joosse, Contributor
A recent experiment has created a one-way quantum network between two labs, reaching a milestone on the path to creating a quantum internet.
Meredith Fore, Contributor