Dilatant Compound 3179 (previously), better known to kids young and old as Silly Putty, may finally have a proper scientific use (besides the other semi-proper uses). Add graphene to the polymer, you get a very sensitive electro-mechanical sensor that can measure breathing, pulse and even blood pressure when placed on a person's neck or chest, and even detect the footsteps of small spiders (via NPR; abstract, paywalled article on Science Mag: Sensitive electromechanical sensors using viscoelastic graphene-polymer nanocomposites).
"Cubelets is a robot construction kit; by combining sensor, logic and actuator blocks, young kids can create simple reconfigurable robots that exhibit surprisingly complex behavior." Watch the Cubelets Engineering Prototypes demo (1.01) on Vimeo. [more inside]
With kettling becoming a commonly deployed tactic by the London Met, students from the University College London are fighting back with Sukey, launched this morning. [more inside]
"The Quake-Catching Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world's largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers." The Economist's writeup notes that, since network communications are (sometimes) faster than the speed of sound in the earth's crust, a distributed network's observations of a temblor might reach a warning network before the quake itself reaches a traditional seismometer. [more inside]
R·a·t W·h·i·s·k·e·r·s - a hot research topic in robotics, biomedical engineering, and neuroscience. Check out the Robotic Rat Whiskers segment from this weeks Quirks & Quarks, and watch them in action (video link at bottom of page).
The narwhal, often termed "The Unicorn of the Sea," has a really odd tusk. It's long, spiraled, and there's only one of 'em per animal. Its purpose has been disputed for ages, but at long last, it seems that the answer has been found. And it's pretty damn cool.