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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.

Researchers developed a way to weld pieces of brittle ceramics together using a laser that fires a million times per second.

Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer

Girl wearing a VR headset and facing away from the camera looks up while a window backlights the scene.

Virtual reality makes between 40% and 70% of people feel nauseated. Experts are trying to figure out why.

Meeri Kim, Contributor

By mimicking the structure of mother-of-pearl, scientists have made a glass that's less likely to shatter when hit.

Charles Q. Choi, Contributor

Researchers have embedded gold particles in soft films that dissipate light energy at the surface of the eye and could have future medical uses.

Bailey Bedford, Contributor

Picture of a person's hand holding the processed wood, which has turned bright white.

Researchers have modified wood not only to make it stronger but to make it capable of cool itselfing, which may lead to energy savings.

Bailey Bedford, Contributor

Insect hearing systems are inspiring new microphone designs that can better identify the direction a sound comes from.

Bailey Bedford, Contributor

So-called plastic crystals could open new avenues in the quest to make refrigerators with only solid components.

Brian Owens, Contributor

Image shows busy road with cars emitting signals to each other to assist with self driving.

The problem could be particularly bad in rental cars.

Joel Shurkin, Contributor

Such cyborg partnerships could aid law enforcement during manhunts.

Charles Q. Choi, Contributor

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