There's one serious obstacle to volcano research: volcanos, like, shoot lava. Sure, you could aim a thermal camera
at one from a safe distance, but where's the fun in that? On the other hand, researchers at Newcastle University are developing silicon carbide-based components for a device that they say will be able to withstand 900° Celsius temperatures -- just the thing to sense what's going on inside a volcano and transmit the info in real-time. Not only will this allow researchers to better understand conditions leading up to an eruption, it might also someday signal an eruption before it occurs. "At the moment we have no way of accurately monitoring the situation inside a volcano," says NU's Dr. Alton Horsfall. "With an estimated 500 million people living in the shadow of a volcano this is clearly not ideal." Since silicon carbide is more resistant to radiation than plain ol' silicon, the tech can also be used inside nuclear power plants or even as radiation sniffers in places that might face a terror attack.