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Newly Invented Glass Would Let Cracked Smartphone Screens "Heal" Themselves

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The solution to cracked smartphone screens may not come from stronger glass or less-clumsy owners. Based on new research published in Science, it's possible that the phones of the future will feature glass that "heals" itself when shattered. A version of this new type of glass has been developed by researchers in Japan, The Guardian reports.

Graduate student Yu Yanagisawa invented the material by accident while attempting to make a glue. The substance he came up with behaved strangely: If he made cracks in the surface, he could make the fissures disappear after pressing them together for 30 seconds at regular room temperature (about 70°F). He also found that the material reverted back to its original strength after being left alone for a few hours.

The polymer, called polyether-thioureas, isn't the first invention capable of healing itself. Scientists have already come up with self-repairing rubber, plastic, and concrete, and earlier this year Motorola patented a display that fixes its own cracks when heated. But according to the study, this is the first hard material whose self-healing properties function at room temperature. Thanks to a special hydrogen-bond pattern, the polymer offers the same robust protection as traditional glass without the irreparability.

It's easy to see how the technology could be a game-changer for phone manufacturers. According to a survey by Motorola, half of people around the world have cracked at least one smartphone screen in their lives. One possible reason that companies like Apple prefer glass for their screens over soft, durable plastic is that glass is more easily recycled. Yanagisawa believes his new polymer could be an even more sustainable alternative, as it could lead to fewer broken screens and phones being tossed in the trash.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Finally! Windows Notepad Is Getting an Update for the First Time in Years
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While some of Window's core programs have evolved dramatically over the years, or disappeared all together, Notepad has remained pretty basic. But as The Verge reports, the text-editing app is about to get a little fancier: Microsoft is updating it for the first time in years.

Since it debuted in 1985, Notepad has become a popular platform for writing out code. One common complaint from programmers working in non-Windows coding language is that Notepad doesn't format line breaks properly, resulting in jumbled, messy text. Now, both Unix/Linux line endings (LF) and Macintosh line endings (CR) are supported in Notepad, making it even more accessible to developers.

For the first time, users can zoom text by holding ctrl and scrolling the mouse wheel. They can also delete the last word in their document by pressing ctrl+backspace. On top of all that, the new update comes with a wrap-around find-and-replace feature, a default status bar with line and column numbers, and improved performance when handling large files.

The arrow keys will be easier to navigate as well. You can now use the arrow keys to deselect text before moving the cursor. And if you ever want to look up a word online, Microsoft will allow you to connect directly to Bing through the app.

The new Notepad update will be made available first to Windows Insiders through Windows 10 Insider Preview, then to everyone on the forthcoming update, codenamed Redstone 5, likely later this year.

[h/t The Verge]

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New Website Lets You Sift Through More Than 700,000 Items Found in Amsterdam's Canals
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Amsterdam's canals are famous for hiding more than eight centuries of history in their mud. From 2003 to 2012, archaeologists had the rare opportunity to dig through an urban river that had been pumped dry, and now 99% Invisible reports that their discoveries are available to browse online.

The new website, dubbed Below the Surface, was released with a book and a documentary of the same name. The project traces the efforts of an archaeological dig that worked parallel to the construction of Amsterdam's new North/South metro line. To bore the train tunnels, crews had to drain part of the River Amstel that runs through the city and dig up the area. Though the excavation wasn't originally intended as an archaeological project, the city used it as an opportunity to collect and preserve some of its history.

About 800 years ago, a trading port popped up at the mouth of the River Amstel and the waterway become a bustling urban hub. Many of the artifacts that have been uncovered are from that era, while some are more contemporary, and one piece dates back to 4300 BCE. All 700,000 objects, which include, toys, coins, and weapons, are cataloged online.

Visitors to the website can look through the collection by category. If you want to view items from the 1500s, for example, you can browse by time period. You also have the option to search by material, like stoneware, for example, and artifact type, like clothing.

After exploring the database, you can learn more about its history in the Below the Surface documentary on Vimeo (English subtitles are coming soon).

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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