OCC TECH NEWS
November 29, 2013
November is just about over and done with, and before it goes we have a few items for you to check out. We have a review on a Gigabyte Radeon R9 270X WF OC video card, which uses the company's Windforce 3X cooler and boosts the clocks by 50MHz. There's a look at the BitFenix Prodigy M case that's been tweaked a little to fit an mATX system instead of ITX, while still keeping all the original Prodigy features. Things finish off today with the Thermalright AXP-100 CPU cooler to help keep ITX systems from going up in flames.
Gigabyte AMD Radeon R9 270X WF OC (GV-R927XOC-2GD) @ Madshrimps
BitFenix Prodigy M @ Benchmark Reviews
Thermalright AXP-100 @ LanOC Reviews
November 28, 2013
Though not exactly news, here is a topical and interesting story from the Optical Society, which will be celebrating its one hundredth birthday in a few years. If you know someone that has undergone laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) or photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) surgery, of have undergone it yourself, you can actually thank the traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey.
In 1981, a group of researchers were working with an argon fluoride (ArF) excimer laser, which is capable of producing short pulses of ultraviolet light. Thanks to the high frequency and short bursts of the laser, they believed it should be possible to use the laser to cleanly cut tissue, without damaging cells around or behind it. Testing this hypothesis was proving difficult though, as the researchers could not immediately decide on a sample to use. During Thanksgiving dinner though, one of the researchers realized that a turkey bone with some cartilage would be perfect, as it is rigid and has a smooth surface. The next day the researcher brought in the bone, put it under the laser, and made multiple clean cuts in it. The researchers also used a green laser for comparison, and found it did considerably more damage to surrounding tissue than the ArF laser.
At first the team of researchers was finding it hard to share their results, but once they got out there, ophthalmologists and other surgeons approached. Earlier this year the team received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for their work that has corrected the vision of million, and may go on to help even more in other ways.
Source: The Optical Society
November 27, 2013
Though many people may only associate 3D photography with movies, it is a growing technology that will likely find use in many fields, such as medical imaging, sensors for cars, and gaming. Researchers at MIT have recently demonstrated a 3D camera that uses time-of-flight technology and can achieve a time resolution approaching femtoseconds.
Time-of-flight (TOF) technology is pretty straightforward as it simply relies on the fact that the speed of light is known, so by measuring how long it takes a light pulse to reflect off an object, one can determine the distance to that object. This is how Microsoft's new Kinect technology works. One problem with TOF cameras is that they do not work well with semi-transparent or translucent objects. The researchers have managed to overcome that issue by applying algorithms similar to those that sharpen photos taken by a shaky hand. Combined with some other tools, the $500 camera is able to reach towards femtosecond resolution, making it a 'nano-camera.'
Of course, at $500 this is not particularly cheap technology, but because of this camera's similarities to the new Kinect, prices could drop due to the games industry. Once that happens, the MIT researchers will have already produced a number of ways for people to utilize the technology.
It's the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S., and we have some reviews for you to be thankful for while awaiting the turkey dinner. We have an article examining the frequency variance of retail AMD Radeon R9 290X models and how there really should be a pre-defined clock for the base and turbo speeds. We also have a look at the new NZXT Source 530 case, which is a more budget-minded case that's brimming with features. There's a review on a Powerline kit from Rosewill to deliver an Internet connection using your home's internal wiring. We wrap things up with a review on the new Apple iPad mini to see if all the improvements make the price increase worth it.
Retail Radeon R9 290X Frequency Variance Issues Still Present @ PC Perspective
NZXT Source 530 Full Tower @ Neoseeker
Rosewill RPLC-200PKIT Powerline Adapter Kit @ Benchmark Reviews
Apple iPad mini Retina @ TechSpot
November 26, 2013
Have you ever noticed yourself picking up the expressions and mannerisms of others you spend a lot of time with? This is not uncommon and has some physiological basis. Researchers at Aalto University and Helsinki Institute for Information Technology have recently found that this linkage also occurs between two people playing video games together.
With facial electromyography to measure the reactions of facial muscles, and an EEG to measure brainwaves, the researchers pitted gamers against each other in a game called Hedgewars. This game features hedgehogs with artillery and the goal is to eliminate your opponent's hedgehogs first. When two human players were competing, the measurements indicated that their negative emotions became synchronized. Curiously, the more competitive the game, the more the positive emotions also became linked.
The researchers are not entirely sure why the linkage strengthened as the situation became more stressful, but it is possible this is to allow one to better anticipate their opponent, or to preserve any social bonds. The latter could definitely be true as the players were friends prior to playing the game, and would not have wanted to threaten that.
Source: Aalto University
Chromebooks seem to be the new craze in the laptop world. They are some of the bestselling laptops on Amazon, and they make plenty of headlines. Now Acer is ready to differentiate itself from the rest of the Chromebook makers. The company is introducing the first Chromebook with a touchscreen, and this is done without sending the price through the roof. The C720P, as it is called, will have an MSRP of "only" $300.
Now you may ask yourself the question whether a touchscreen is even necessary, since it is not really that prominent in the rest of the laptop market. But according to Arif Maskatia, CTO for Acer, "[the] new touchscreen C720P gives customers an intuitive way to browse sites online, enjoy apps, and do more with the Chromebook". So maybe this is the OS touchscreens have been waiting for.
Other than that, the laptop is not anything special. It has a 11.6 inch display with a 1366x768 resolution, an Intel Celeron 2955U processor, 2 GB of DDR 3 RAM, and a 32 GB SSD. Other features include Wi-Fi, USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, a webcam, and an HDMI output. The battery is said to last up to 7.5 hours, which is decent, although not fantastic. The decent battery life might have been a trade off in order to keep the Chromebook light and thin. It weighs a little less than 3 pounds and is a mere 0.78 inches thick.
It will be sold at Amazon, Best Buy, and in Acer's online store starting early December.
Oh graphene, we hardly knew your high conductivity and two dimensional surface, and now you may be replaced. Well, at least in some scenarios, if researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are correct about a prediction concerning stanene, a two dimensional form of tin. The name comes from the Latin word for tin, stannum, and the suffix used in graphene.
This latest work originated from a search for topological insulators. These are a special class of materials that conduct electricity along their surface without a speed limit, but resist electrical currents through their volume. Several of these materials have been discovered before, but none have had the necessary properties for use at room temperature. Knowing to look in the lower-right portion of the periodic table, the researchers have found that two-dimensional tin with some fluorine atoms should be a topological insulator at temperatures as high as 100 ºC.
If stanene were used in electronics, such as the wiring within microchips, we could see a significant drop in power consumption and heat, as an electrical current would travel with 100% efficiency. Of course, there is a lot of work to be done before then, including confirming the researchers predictions, and then, if accurate, developing a reliable means to manufacture stanene, which will not be easy.
Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
There's just a couple of items for you to check out today, including another look at Western Digital's Black 2 Dual Drive. It combines a 120GB SSD and a 1TB HDD into a single 2.5" drive, which should be perfect for anyone who only has one hard drive slot in their laptop. The newest version of SiSoft Sandra has been released for the coming new year, and you can download it from our friends at NGOHQ. It provides pretty much all the information you could hope for on your computer, as well as some benchmarks to see how everything is working.
Western Digital Black 2 Dual Drive @ LanOC Reviews
SiSoftware Sandra Lite 2014 Released @ NGOHQ.com
November 25, 2013
Ferroelectric materials are a special class of materials that have the unique property of switching polarization when an electric field is applied. This property could see use in advanced forms of computing and memory storage, in part because electric fields are very easy to create. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory however, have made a rather unexpected discovery while writing domains of switched polarization onto a ferroelectric material.
Normally one would expect that when writing domains to a material, they would simply be written where and as you want them to be. As the domains got closer together though, forming denser arrays, the domains started affecting each other. Sometimes a new domain would not form or it would form with an alternating, checkerboard pattern. Not only has this never been seen before, but at first the researchers thought this was impossible. Upon further examination, the researchers determined that this behavior was chaotic, which is typically seen over a length of time, and not over a distance in space.
With one domain able to affect those immediately next to it, and far away, this discovery could have impacts on memcomputing. This field of computing attempts to mimic neurons in our brains, which are able to both store and process information. Of course, far more research must be done before a computer operating on this domain interaction effect could be built.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
iBuyPower is one of the third party manufacturers currently working on a version of the Steam Machine from Valve. The company has released some photos and small details of its first two prototypes, code named Gordon and Freeman. The systems are currently running an early version of the Steam OS, but iBuyPower wouldn't go into detail about the system internals. However, iBuyPower did confirm that the systems are capable of running all Steam games at 1080p at a frame rate of 60 frames per second which indicates that the system has some power behind it.
Valve is currently revamping the review system in place on its Steam service to give better insight to consumers looking to buy new games. Steam will now display the most helpful reviews to help influence potential purchases. Reviews can be voted up or down to help push the most useful reviews to the top and also to bury unhelpful reviews. If you find a user that had a particularly helpful review, you can easily see if that user has written any other reviews. Reviews will also display how long a user has played the game to help determine if they have enough experience with the game to give an informed opinion. A number of questions are answered in an accompanying FAQ section.
Right now there are high energy particles called neutrinos streaming through your body. These particles are produced from high energy events, such as the nuclear fusion of the Sun and experiments at particle accelerators. There are other sources of neutrinos in the Universe, and the IceCube observatory, manned by researchers from across the world, including Berkeley Lab, is helping to find them.
Neutrinos are an interesting family of particles that have very little mass, high energy, and no electrical charge. This makes them very useful, as they can pass through barriers like the atmosphere, and difficult to work with, because they do not always interact with a detector. The IceCube observatory however was designed to catch them, with its 5160 detectors buried under a kilometer and a half of Antarctic ice. So far it is found 28 extremely high energy neutrinos that most likely occurred from astronomical events that took place outside of the Solar System. Two of these were the highest energy neutrinos ever reported then, exceeding one quadrillion volts, and one more actually doubles that.
Now that we are finding some of these neutrinos, the question becomes, 'where are they coming from?' IceCube can point us in the right direction, and currently the best theory is that they are being produced as a result of particle jets from black holes.
Source: Berkeley Lab
We have just a couple of items for you to kick off the final week of November, with one being rather unique. Western Digital managed to fit a 120GB SSD and a 1TB HDD into a single 2.5" drive, which effectively eliminates any tough decisions when choosing what option to go with, especially in a laptop. It's an intriguing concept, so be sure to check out the review to see how well it performs. There's also a review on the Lenovo Yoga Android tablets that feature a stylish design and plenty of features in multiple screen sizes.
Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive - 120GB + 1TB HDD in a single 2.5" package @ PC Perspective
Lenovo Yoga Android Tablet @ Benchmark Reviews
November 24, 2013
With the arrival of Thunderbolt on Intel Haswell platforms, the desire for enterprise storage solutions using the high speed interconnect is popping up. HighPoint has announced a partnership with Netstor to expand availability of its storage solutions to Thunderbolt host platforms. HighPoint brings a long history of providing high performance storage solutions and Netstor is a veteran of industrial rackmount design. There will be 3U and 4U options available with support for 16 and 24 drive configurations, respectively. Each enclosure can be connected using a single Thunderbolt connection with drive control provided by HighPoint RocketRAID host bus adapters. The enclosures will be available early next month from HighPoint authorized distributors at an undisclosed price.
Source: Press Release
November 22, 2013
The recently published Green500 list, which ranks the worlds supercomputer by energy efficiency, revealed that the top ten systems on the list all feature NVIDIA Tesla GPUs. This feat is matched only by the BlueGene systems made by IBM. The Tsubame-KFC system at the Tokyo Institute of Technology holds the top spot on the list, delivering 4.5 gigaflops of computing power per watt. In the last six months NVIDIA managed to increase its presence from two systems to ten, attributing the rise to the improved efficiency provided by the Tesla architecture compared to Fermi.
Nowadays, everything is designed on a computer before being manufactured, including parts of an airplane, jet engine, and gearbox. Such components though can suffer friction and impacts that cannot be properly modelled on computers, making prototypes a necessity for safety. Researchers at the University of Bristol want to change that and have crafted a new modelling technique that can accurately predict the effect of those forces, without a prototype.
Algorithms to predict the damage a device will incur as a result of friction or impacts have been developed before, but have not been very accurate. In part this is because some of those behaviors are so nonlinear that they create great uncertainty in engineering systems. The new Bristol model however is able to better describe what happens as it takes effects into account previous models had not.
This model could have a number of impacts, including greatly reducing the cost of engineering systems that endure friction and impact. It could also affect the modelling of non-smooth systems.
Source: University of Bristol
November is flying right along, as there's only one more week left before we're into the final month of the year. To help get your weekend going, we have some reviews for you to check out, including a showdown between the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It's a way to see just what it would take to build a gaming PC to deliver the same (or better) graphical capabilities as the new consoles, as well as plenty of other features. We also have a look at the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti and AMD Radeon R9 290X at 2560x1600 resolution to see how the two heavy-hitters do at one of the largest resolutions available. There's a review on the new Creative Sound Blaster ZxR sound card to hear what the company's new flagship is capable of. SteelSeries' Sensei Fnatic gets put to the test to explore how well it performs. We finish things off today with a new podcast looking back at all the latest news and reviews from the week.
PC vs. PS4 vs. Xbox One Hardware Comparison: Building a Competing Gaming PC @ PC Perspective
2560x1600: GeForce GTX 780 Ti vs Radeon R9 290X @ Benchmark Reviews
SteelSeries Sensei Fnatic @ LanOC Reviews
Creative Sound Blaster ZxR @ Madshrimps
Podcast #278 @ PC Perspective
November 21, 2013
Thermaltake has announced its latest, and largest, charging station for mobile devices, the LUXA2 P-MEGA. The P-MEGA has charging capacity of 41,600 mAh provided by a li-polymer cell that can charge a single device for 48 consecutive hours. Up to six devices can be charged at once through USB with three fast charging ports and two normal charging ports. The P-MEGA is even smart enough to know when your device has finished charging and shuts off that port to prevent overcharging. The P-MEGA has dimensions of 10 inches in height, width, and depth and weighs just one kilogram. It will be available with an MSRP of $169.
Source: Press Release
We all know how important cooling is in our computers and can imagine how important it is in even larger devices. This is why so much is invested in developing better cooling systems. Researchers at MIT have recently found a rather intriguing means to improve cooling using magnets.
Many systems, such as power plants and some computers, use water to remove heat. As the water flows through a pipe and over a heat source, it picks up the thermal energy, and carries it away. Many techniques have been developed to improve that process, such as adding structures to the pipes, to increase surface area or pumping the water faster, which can be expensive and require a lot of energy. This new technique instead adds nanoparticles of magnetite to the water. Magnetite is a kind of iron oxide and, as the name suggests, is magnetic. By then placing a magnet on the outside of the pipes, the particles are drawn towards one side of the pipe, which disrupts the water flow and increases the temperature gradient of the water in that area. The end effect is an increase in performance by as much as 300%.
Though this is currently just a promising study, it could one day have implications in fusion reactors and our computers. Part of that impact could be from strategically placing the magnets, to cool particular hotspots better.
We have just a couple reviews for you to check out today, but each one should be pretty interesting. There's a look at the OCZ Vertex 450 128GB SSD, which features an Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 controller to deliver read/write speeds of 525MB/s and 290MB/s. The review also sees how a pair of the drives perform in a RAID 0 configuration, so it's definitely one you won't want to miss. We also have a review on the Corsair H80i liquid CPU cooler to see how well it can keep some of the hottest CPUs on the market from going up in flames.
Corsair H80i @ LanOC Reviews
OCZ Vertex 450 128GB SSD @ Neoseeker
A new contester to the GTX Titan has showed up, and it might not be what you would imagine. The new contester is neither a new top card from AMD nor is it a newly developed card from NVIDIA. The new card that claims better performance in some of the newest games comes from ASUS' Republic of Gamers division. The company has chosen to put two GTX 760s on the same PCB along with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory. And to increase the performance even further, the company also bumped the core clock on the two GPUs to 1 GHz with a 1072 MHz Boost. According to ASUS, the card is six percent faster than the GTX Titan in BioShock Infinite, 14 percent in Crysis 3, and a staggering 39 percent in Tomb Raider.
The card features ASUS' DirectCU II cooling technology, which, according to the company, makes the card run 20% cooler and vastly quieter than a reference GTX 690. On top of that, the card is equipped with DIGI+ VRM; a 12-phase power design, which reduces power noise and improves efficiency; Japanese-made capacitors ensures a longer lifespan; polymerized organic-semiconductor capacitors (POSCAP) reduces power noise further and increases durability; and for good measure, ASUS chose to slap an aluminum backplate on, so the card will remain rigid for years to come.
There is currently no information regarding price and release date.
November 20, 2013
Sennheiser is a name synonymous with high quality audio equipment. I own several pairs of Sennheiser headphones and couldn't be happier. The company has now announced that it will be adding two new headsets targeted at gamers through a partnership with Io-Interactive, creators of the Hitman series. Lead Sound Designer at Io-Interactive Frans Galschiøt Quaade explains the partnership saying, "Sennheiser equipment makes our games sound better- both for us and the gamer. Not only are these great gaming headsets for both producing and playing games, but using Sennheiser equipment during development ensures a great and consistent audio experience all the way from the production to end consumer." The G4ME ONE and G4ME ZERO feature designs that resemble some other Sennheiser products and that should mean that gamers are in for a treat. Both headsets have a black and white color scheme built around large earcups, adjustable microphones, and audio quality. Both headsets are available immediately.
I remember downloading Winamp as one of the first pieces of software on my new Gateway 2000 when I first got AOL. Since then a number of other music players have come and gone and now Winamp is getting ready to ride off into the sun. AOL has announced that the service will no longer be available after December 20, 2013, ending a 16 year run that began on April 21, 1997. The software was purchased by AOL in 1999 and it began a downward slide in popularity with the release of Winamp3 in August 2002. A number of other releases and updates have been made since then but it hasn't been enough to stop AOL from pulling the plug. It is estimated that Winamp still pulls in around $6 million in revenue annually and still has a user base in the millions and AOL isn't revealing the reason that it is being shutdown.
Source: Toms Hardware
We have all come accustomed to LCDs as they surround us in phones, televisions, monitors, cameras, and more, but that ubiquitous technology has a rival that could potentially take its throne. That technology is the organic light emitting diode (OLED) and it has several qualities that could make it the display technology and light source of tomorrow, but tomorrow has not yet come. Researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft though have brought that day a great deal closer by finally starting to realize a promise for OLEDs.
The organic compounds used in OLEDs are naturally flexible. While this obviously allows for OLED displays and lights to be flexible, it can also allow for those devices to be printed like a newspaper. Put the ingredients in one end of the machine and at the other end, you get a finished product. Thus far though, such printing technology has been limited to laboratories and not ready for commercial manufacturing. That is what the researchers have started to change by developing the technology for large-scale printing of OLEDs and other organic electronics. The printer uses a robot to control the printers that spray layers of the appropriate polymer molecules onto a plastic substrate, like an inkjet printer deposits ink on paper. When done, you have a working organic-electronic device.
In its current form though, this printing technology is not quite ready for commercial use, in part because it is still expensive to set up. This will limit the potential applications of the printed OLEDs, but with the technology now available, others can learn from and improve it, and perhaps build something capable of mass production.
We have a nice selection of reviews to help get you through the day today, including the PowerColor Devil R9 270X. A custom cooler and factory overclocks are just some of the features of this powerful card, so if you're in the market for a new video card, you'll want to check it out. We also have a look at the ROCCAT Raivo gaming mousepad if you need something a little better than what you're using currently. There's a BIOSTAR motherboard to check out, except this one has an Intel Ivy Bridge CPU built right in. If you just need a case with a ton of space, then the Phanteks Enthoo Primo is the one for you. Lastly there's a look at the Google Nexus 5 for anyone desiring to upgrade their smartphone to the latest and greatest.
PowerColor Radeon R9-270X Devil @ Bjorn3D
BIOSTAR NM70I-1037U @ Madshrimps
Phanteks Enthoo Primo @ Benchmark Reviews
ROCCAT Raivo Gaming Mousepad @ Neoseeker
Google Nexus 5 @ TechSpot
November 19, 2013
It's that time again, when new video games require new video drivers. NVIDIA is on top of things for anyone picking up Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and/or Need for Speed Rivals, not to mention any other games recently released, with the new GeForce 331.82 WHQL driver. This new driver is the Game Ready one for ACIV and NFSR, as well as boosts up to 19% in other games compared to the 327.23 WHQL drivers. There's also some huge improvements for anyone gaming at 4K, as there's as much as a 50% framerate boost in the likes of Battlefield 4, Crysis 3, and Metro: Last Light. GeForce Experience gets bumped up to 1.7.1 with the 331.82 drivers, which removes the CPU restrictions on ShadowPlay. So now anyone with a GTX 600/700 Series GPU can record their gameplay with a minimal performance impact (if any).
If you're already running GeForce Experience, feel free to start the download when prompted. Otherwise, you can grab the GeForce 331.82 WHQL drivers from GeForce.com, as well as check out the full release notes.
For most people, if they were to hold a piece of metal and a crystal in their hands, they would think the two materials have nothing in common. That would not be completely true as they are both crystals, meaning the molecules within them have a regular structure. When a material does not have such a regular structure, they are considered a glass, and metallic glasses are very interesting for many applications. One problem with them though is their brittleness, but researchers at Berkeley Lab and Caltech have found something that may help change that.
Thanks to their irregular molecular structures, metallic glasses can be stronger than their crystal counterparts, malleable as plastics, while also conducting electricity and resisting corrosion. With properties like those, it is not surprising that many industries are trying to use them. In bulk though, the glasses are brittle, so composite glasses, which can be less brittle, are used instead, but the researchers have found one kind of bulk glass that is as fatigue resistant as those composites. It turns out that palladium-based bulk metallic glasses have a unique staircase-like crack pattern within them. This pattern protects against large cracks by limiting the opening and closing of the any cracks.
If this pattern can be replicated in other metallic glasses, we may see pure, bulk metallic glasses being used for a variety of devices in the future. Such devices could include smartphones, biomedical implants, and more electronic devices.
Source: Berkeley Lab
Canonical had initially planned to replace the X window system with its own Mir window system in the upcoming 14.04 Long Term Support version of its Ubuntu OS, but it now appears that the change will be pushed to a later release. The announcement came at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, and it was stressed that the problem isn't with Mir itself but rather with the XMir compatibility layer that allows applications written for X to work with Mir. The fact that version 14.04 is an LTS release certainly didn't help the chances of a buggy piece of software making it in to the OS release as LTS releases are supported for five years and are generally considered to be more stable and reliable. While Mir won't be enabled by default, it will still be available in the Ubuntu repositories for users that wish to try it out at their own risk. CEO Mark Shuttleworth commented on the decision saying, "On the desktop, this will be sort of the crowning release of the Unity 7 code base. We've been working on that code pretty consistently since round about 10.04, and so we've had four very good years of continuous improvement. We can reasonably expect 14.04 to be a really fast, slick, stable, and reliable release on the desktop. That's the commitment we want to make to anyone who is deploying large volumes of Ubuntu in any large-scale environment."
Source: Ars Technica
NVIDIA and IBM have announced an upcoming partnership at the Supercomputing 2013 conference to enhance the software used by IBM to power the worlds most powerful computers. IBM also plans to utilize the powerful GPUs in data center applications in a move that "marks the first time that GPU accelerator technology will move beyond the realm of supercomputing and into the heart of enterprise-scale data centers." The companies also plan to collaborate on the hardware side, not content to let software have all the fun. IBM Power8 CPUs will be integrated with NVIDIA Tesla GPUs to allow the two devices to better work together to solve complex computing problems. VP of Accelerated Computing at NVIDIA Ian Buck said, "It will also provide existing supercomputing and high performance computing customers with new choices and technologies to build powerful, energy-efficient systems that drive innovation and scientific discovery."
One classic physics experiment I have seen multiple times is to quickly submerge one's hand in molten lead. Normally molten lead would immediately burn your flesh, but thanks some water and the Leidenfrost effect, a barrier protects your hand from the heat. Sometimes you actually do not want such a barrier, such as when trying to cool a reactor, and researchers at MIT have found a way to potentially dial back the effect.
In the molten-lead example, the person first dips their hand in water and then quickly dips it in the molten lead. When the lead touches the water, it causes the water film to evaporate, creating a vapor barrier to block the heat from reaching your skin (if done correctly), giving you a brief window to withdraw your undamaged digits. In a reactor the same thing happens when water is sprayed onto it, causing some of the water to bounce off of the vapor barrier, and not carry away any heat. What the researchers have found is that if you put a pattern of microscale posts with nanoparticles attached to them that vapor barrier will not form until a much higher temperature.
While reactors and steam generators are two obvious applications for this research, it could also find use in fuel-inject engines and potentially electronics. It depends on if a spray cooling system could be made to fit inside an electronic device.