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Light Roundup

January 27, 2012

The sunflower’s spirals inspire new solar power plant design.



An improved pill camera. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Tiny video cameras that you swallow so doctors can get a look inside you have been around for a while. But the cameras just tumble their way through your digestive tract. Now researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are developing a new version that can be steered and aimed using the magnetic field of an MRI machine. The goal is not only to help doctors get a better look inside their patients, but also to guide drugs and lasers right where they’re needed.

In other news, concentrated solar power plants use hundreds of large mirrors that focus the sun’s energy on a central tower. But each power plant takes up many acres of land. Now MIT scientists have copied the spiral pattern within the sunflower to place the mirrors in a new arrangement. It takes up twenty percent less space, making the energy plants more practical. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.