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.

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
Researchers say the morphing wings and tail of their robotic flyer allow it to soar at low speeds and make sharp maneuvers.
Tom Metcalfe, Contributor
Researchers converted a plastic bag and bottle cap into a type of chemical used in pharmaceuticals, detergents, paints and other products.
Charles Q. Choi, Contributor
Samuel Acheampong is using the Nobel Prize-recognized technique to tweak the genes of traditional Ghanaian crops.
Catherine Meyers, Editor
A simple equation based on a series of experiments from the 1950s still serves as the rule of thumb for estimating road damage.
Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer