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Snake-inspired robot slithers even better than predecessor

The robot is made using kirigami -- a Japanese paper craft that relies on cuts to change the properties of a material. As the robot stretches, the kirigami surface "pops up" into a 3D-textured surface, which grips the ground just like snake skin. Credit: Harvard SEAS Bad news for ophiophobes: Researchers from the Harvard John…

Photonics: The curious case of the disappearing cylinders

(a) Light with a wavelength of 700 nm traveling from bottom to top is distorted when the radius of the cylinder (in the middle) is 175 nm. (b) There is hardly any distortion when the cylinder has a radius of 195 nm. These images correspond to the conditions for invisibility predicted by the theoretical calculation.…

Defying the laws of physics? Engineers demonstrate bubbles of sand

Development of a "bubble" of lighter sand (blue) forming in heavier sand (white). Credit: Alex Penn/ETH Zurich The flow of granular materials, such as sand and catalytic particles used in chemical reactors, and enables a wide range of natural phenomena, from mudslides to volcanos, as well as a broad array of industrial processes, from pharmaceutical…

Neonics hinder bees’ ability to fend off deadly mites

The self-grooming behavior of wild honey bees like these can be affected by pesticides. Credit: University of Guelph A University of Guelph study is the first to uncover the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bees' ability to groom and rid themselves of deadly mites. The research comes as Health Canada places new limits on…

How slippery surfaces allow sticky pastes and gels to slide

A gel-like yield stress fluid, top, moves as a plug without shearing in a tube with the new surface coating. At bottom, the same fluid is seen shearing while it flows in an uncoated tube, where part of the fluid gets stuck to the tube while part of it continues to flow. Credit: Image courtesy…

Better labor practices could improve archaeological output

An excavation site in Petra, Jordan. Credit: Allison Mickel Archaeological excavation has, historically, operated in a very hierarchical structure, according to archaeologist Allison Mickel. The history of the enterprise is deeply entangled with Western colonial and imperial pursuits, she says. Excavations have been, and often still are, according to Mickel, led by foreigners from the…

Geomagnetic jerks finally reproduced and explained

Visualization of the interior of the Earth's core, as represented by a computer simulation model (view of the equatorial plane and a spherical surface near the inner core, seen from the North Pole). Magnetic field lines (in orange) are stretched by turbulent convection (in blue and red). Hydromagnetic waves are emitted from the inner core,…

DNA is managed like climbers’ rope to help keep tangles at bay

Scientists have uncovered a process in cells, which resembles a method used to control climbers' ropes, that prevents DNA from becoming tangled. Credit: Davide Michieletto A process that cells use to unravel knotted strands of DNA -- resembling a method used to control climbing ropes -- has been uncovered by scientists. The findings help explain…

Island lizards are expert sunbathers, and researchers find it’s slowing their evolution

Anolis chloris soaks up the sun while displaying. Credit: Photo courtesy of J. Salazar, Virginia Tech If you've ever spent some time in the Caribbean, you might have noticed that humans are not the only organisms soaking up the sun. Anoles -- diminutive little tree lizards -- spend much of their day shuttling in and…

The discrete-time physics hiding inside our continuous-time world

Markov processes have been used to model the accumulation of sand piles. Credit: Santa Fe Institute Press Scientists believe that time is continuous, not discrete -- roughly speaking, they believe that it does not progress in "chunks," but rather "flows," smoothly and continuously. So they often model the dynamics of physical systems as continuous-time "Markov…

Light from exotic particle states

Short electric pulses are sent through a system of ultra thin layers, which then emits light. Credit: TU Wien When particles bond in free space, they normally create atoms or molecules. However, much more exotic bonding states can be produced inside solid objects. Researchers at TU Wien have now managed to utilise this: so-called "multi-particle…

Laser processing method to increase efficiency of optoelectronic devices

(Top) Illustration of a water molecule bonding at a sulfur vacancy in the MoS2 upon laser light exposure. (Bottom) Photoluminescence (PL) increase observed during laser light exposure in ambient. (Inset) Fluorescence image showing brightened regions spelling out 'NRL.' Credit: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) discovered a new method…

Researchers use gene editing with CRISPR to treat lethal lung diseases before birth

CRISPR-edited lung cells (green) with fluorescent protein. Many, but not all, are alveolar type 2 cells. Credit: Penn Medicine Using CRISPR gene editing, a team from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Penn Medicine have thwarted a lethal lung disease in an animal model in which a harmful mutation causes death within hours after birth.…

Using the physics of airflows to locate gaseous leaks more quickly in complex scenarios

This robot can out the source of an ethanol leak in a clever way. Rather than just following the strongest scent, the robot plugs measurements of concentration and airflow into a complex partial differential equation and then decides where the most useful position to take another measurement is. By repeating this process, it can find…

Puncture performance of viper fangs measured

This is an electron micrograph of the fang of Bothrops atrox, the common lancehead, a pit viper. Credit: Micrograph by Stephanie Crofts; specimen (c)Field Museum of Natural History FMNH51658 A team that studies how biological structures such as cactus spines and mantis shrimp appendages puncture living tissue has turned its attention to viper fangs. Specifically,…

From nata de coco to computer screens: Cellulose gets a chance to shine

Control of optical retardation by the aligned cellulose film. Credit: Osaka University A team at the Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research at Osaka University has determined the optical parameters of cellulose molecules with unprecedented precision. They found that cellulose's intrinsic birefringence, which describes how a material reacts differently to light of various orientations, is…

Exploring what happens inside fires and explosions

UCF Associate professor Subith Vasu and doctoral student Zachary Loparo in UCF's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research, developed a new technique to examine the molecular details of fire. Credit: Karen Norum, UCF The inside of a fire might be the last place one would explore, but…

Life-threatening foot disease found in endangered huemul deer in Chile

A huemul deer in Chilean Patagonia. Credit: Alejandro Vila/Wildlife Conservation Society Scientists report the first cases of foot disease for endangered huemul deer in Chilean Patagonia in a study led by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of California, Davis' One Health Institute, with partnering institutions in Chile and the United States. In the…

Triplet superconductivity demonstrated under high pressure

AC susceptibility and resistivity set up for UBe13 in diamond-anvil cells. Credit: Yusei Shimizu Researchers in France and Japan have demonstrated a theoretical type of unconventional superconductivity in a uranium-based material, according to a study published in the journal Physical Review Letters. By using very high pressure and a magnetic field, the team demonstrated that…

Through thick and thin: Neutrons track lithium ions in battery electrodes

Chemical engineering researchers from the University of Virginia School of Engineering employ neutron imaging at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to probe lithium-ion battery materials and structures. Credit: ORNL/Genevieve Martin Lithium-ion batteries are expected to have a global market value of $47 billion by 2023. They are used in numerous applications, because they offer relatively high…

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