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Now your phone can become a robot that does the boring...

Internet of Things concept (stock image). Credit: © weedezign / Adobe Stock If any factory worker could program low-cost robots, then more factories could actually use robotics to increase worker productivity. This is because workers would be able to shift to taking on more varied and higher-level tasks, and factories could produce a greater variety…

Superstrong, reversible adhesive that works like snail slime

Snail on tree (stock image). Credit: © madrolly / Adobe Stock If you've ever pressed a picture-hanging strip onto the wall only to realize it's slightly off-center, you know the disappointment behind adhesion as we typically experience it: it may be strong, but it's mostly irreversible. While you can un-stick the used strip from the…

Bitcoin causing carbon dioxide emissions comparable to Las Vegas or Hamburg

Bitcoin concept (stock image). Credit: © Visual Generation / Adobe Stock The use of Bitcoin causes around 22 megatons in CO2 emissions annually -- comparable to the total emissions of cities such as Hamburg or Las Vegas. That is the conclusion of the most detailed analysis to date of the cryptocurrency's carbon footprint. For their…

Dashing the dream of ideal ‘invisibility’ cloaks for stress waves

Roman Colosseum (stock image). Roman arenas have survived in many earthquake-prone regions. Did the Romans inadvertently build seismic wave cloaks when they designed colosseums? Some researchers believe they did due to the arenas' resemblance to modern experimental elastodynamic cloaking devices. Credit: © scaliger / Adobe Stock Whether Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, which perfectly steers light…

The mantis shrimp’s perfect shield

Mantis shrimp (stock image). Credit: © John Anderson / Adobe Stock How do you protect yourself from the perfect striking weapon? You develop the perfect shield. If you're a mantis shrimp with a clublike arm tough enough to crack clamshells, you'd better not get into any fights with your pals. But the tiny crustaceans, among…

Algorithm tells robots where nearby humans are headed

Engineer controlling robot machinery (stock image). Credit: © ipopba / Adobe Stock In 2018, researchers at MIT and the auto manufacturer BMW were testing ways in which humans and robots might work in close proximity to assemble car parts. In a replica of a factory floor setting, the team rigged up a robot on rails,…

What if dark matter is lighter? Report calls for small experiments...

Abstract background (stock image). Credit: © science photo / Adobe Stock The search for dark matter is expanding. And going small. While dark matter abounds in the universe -- it is by far the most common form of matter, making up about 85 percent of the universe's total -- it also hides in plain sight.…

Somebody’s watching you: The surveillance of self-driving cars

Self-driving car concept (stock image). Credit: © Tierney / Adobe Stock Picture the future, where driving is a thing of the past. You can hop in your car or one from a ride-share, buckle up and tell the car where you want to go. During your ride, you can check your email and look up…

Making a splash is all in the angle

Water splashing (stock image). Credit: © Anton Maltsev / Adobe Stock Making a splash depends on the angle of a liquid as it hits and moves along a surface, according to a new study from Queen Mary University of London. If a droplet hits a dry solid surface fast enough it will splash and being…

How flow shapes bacterial biofilms

Remains of cyanobacteria biofilms (stromatolites) in Lake Thetis, Western Australia (stock image). Credit: © bennymarty / Adobe Stock Although we tend to think of them as solitary sojourners of the world, bacteria are actually very social organisms. In fact, the vast majority of bacteria live on surfaces by forming "biofilms": three-dimensional communities hosting thousands to…

A polar-bear-inspired material for heat insulation

Polar bear with cub. Credit: © A.Lukin / Adobe Stock For polar bears, the insulation provided by their fat, skin, and fur is a matter of survival in the frigid Arctic. For engineers, polar bear hair is a dream template for synthetic materials that might lock in heat just as well as the natural version.…

Autonomous boats can target and latch onto each other

Amsterdam canal (stock image). Credit: © gnoparus / Adobe Stock The city of Amsterdam envisions a future where fleets of autonomous boats cruise its many canals to transport goods and people, collect trash, or self-assemble into floating stages and bridges. To further that vision, MIT researchers have given new capabilities to their fleet of robotic…

Researchers develop superconducting quantum refrigerator

Icy freezer (stock image). Credit: © mhp / Adobe Stock Imagine a refrigerator so cold it could turn atoms into their quantum states, giving them unique properties that defy the rules of classical physics. In a paper published in Physical Review Applied, Andrew Jordan, professor of physics at the University of Rochester, and his graduate…

Chemists could make ‘smart glass’ smarter by manipulating it at the...

Glass roof (stock image). Credit: © zhu difeng / Adobe Stock "Smart glass," an energy-efficiency product found in newer windows of cars, buildings and airplanes, slowly changes between transparent and tinted at the flip of a switch. "Slowly" is the operative word; typical smart glass takes several minutes to reach its darkened state, and many…

Exposing modern forgers

Paintbrushes on canvas (stock image). Credit: © VALERYIA / Adobe Stock Art forgeries have been around since time immemorial. However, the art market is booming and commercialisation has increased apace. As a result, some people are tempted to copy a historical painting in the hope of making a "quick buck." These fakes are most easily…

Physicists can predict the jumps of Schrödinger’s cat (and finally save...

Schrödinger's cat concept (stock image). Credit: © Mopic / Adobe Stock Yale researchers have figured out how to catch and save Schrödinger's famous cat, the symbol of quantum superposition and unpredictability, by anticipating its jumps and acting in real time to save it from proverbial doom. In the process, they overturn years of cornerstone dogma…

Jumping drops get boost from gravity

Water droplets (stock image). Credit: © kei u / Adobe Stock A decade ago a new idea was brought into the general scientific community -- shedding water from condensers was more efficient by using surface tension to make microscopic water droplets "jump" off the surface. The idea took the research community by storm. "In the…

Could gold be the key to making gene therapy for HIV,...

Gold element in periodic table. Credit: © andriano_cz / Adobe Stock Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center took a step toward making gene therapy more practical by simplifying the way gene-editing instructions are delivered to cells. Using a gold nanoparticle instead of an inactivated virus, they safely delivered gene-editing tools in lab models of…

Jumping drops get boost from gravity

Water droplets (stock image). Credit: © kei u / Adobe Stock A decade ago a new idea was brought into the general scientific community -- shedding water from condensers was more efficient by using surface tension to make microscopic water droplets "jump" off the surface. The idea took the research community by storm. "In the…

The most complete study of battery failure sees the light

Low battery on smartphone (stock image). Credit: © lumenphotos / Adobe Stock An international team of researchers just published in Advanced Energy Materials the widest study on what happens during battery failure, focusing on the different parts of a battery at the same time. The role of the ESRF, the European Synchrotron, in France, was…

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