How Technology Pushes Science Forward

Elevate your cocktail party chatter with news about salt, sight, cell phones, and more.

This story appears in the March 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.

A researcher at the University of Tokyo spent six years trying to transform electrical currents into the flavor of salt. The result? A fork that fools taste buds by transmitting the sensation of salt to the tongue without a pinch of sodium.

An Israeli tech start-up is replacing bifocals with “omnifocals.” The autofocusing glasses have infrared sensors that detect the distance between pupils and the object being viewed, refocusing in 300 milliseconds.

Your cell phone knows you best. Scientists at the University of California San Diego swabbed 39 devices and were able to identify their owners’ grooming products, medical conditions, recently visited locations, and favorite foods. Such a composite character sketch can be used in criminal profiling or medical monitoring.

A scientist at the University of Central Florida developed a material to harvest and store the sun’s energy. Woven into clothing, the copper-ribbon filament will turn a wearer into a self-charging solar battery that may someday power a phone from inside a pocket.