It has been a long-held belief in scientific circles that many creatures navigate across land, through water, and through the skies using the Earth’s magnetic field for guidance. Now scientists and engineers working at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) have finally discovered the organic mechanism responsible for this in an animal. Looking just like a microscopic TV antenna, the structure has been found in the brain of a tiny roundworm that uses it to work out which way to burrow through the soil. This breakthrough may help scientists discover how other species with internal compasses use the magnetic field of our planet to pilot their course.
Researchers have discovered an unlikely source of renewable energy, the naturally-occurring cycle that is water evaporation. Scientists at New York's Columbia University replicated this process in the laboratory and harnessed its energy to power tiny machines, one of which was a moving, miniature car. The team says the technology could potentially to be scaled up to one day draw power from huge resting bodies of water such as bays and reservoirs.
A new conductive, transparent, and stretchable nanomaterial that folds
up like an accordion could one day be applied to the development of
flexible electronics and wearable sensors, as well as stretchable
displays. The researchers at North Carolina State University who created
this "nano-accordion" structure caution that it is early days yet, but
they hope to find ways to improve its conductivity and eventually scale
it up for commercial or industrial use.
Using nanometer-size metamaterials, researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a technique to print images that uses the manipulation of light, rather than the application of ink, to produce colors. This "no-ink" printing method has been demonstrated by producing a Missouri S&T athletic logo just 50 micrometers wide.
A few months ago, we reported on the development of a material that uses the same technique employed by gecko feet to allow its adhesion to be turned on and off at will. This allows fragile components, like those used in the manufacture of semiconductors, to be carefully picked up and put down without suction or residue-leaving adhesives. Now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) have developed a gripper, also inspired by the gecko and also tunable, that they claim is much simpler, making it easy and cheap to mass produce.
Over 130 years ago, Thomas Edison used carbon as the conducting filament in the very first commercial light-bulb. Now a team of scientists and engineers have used that very same element, in its perfectly crystalline form of graphene, to create what they claim to be the world's thinnest light-bulb. Even though just one atom thick and covering an area almost too small to see unaided, the new device is so bright that the light it produces can easily be seen with the naked eye.
Brimming with nutrients, antiooxidants and healthy fats, avocado –
otherwise known as nature's butter – carries a multitude of health
benefits inside its coarse, leathery skin. But new research is now
pointing to what could be its most valuable secret yet. A Canadian
scientist has discovered a lipid in avocado that could prove key to
battling leukemia by attacking the deadly disease at its core, namely
the highly resilient stem cells that drive the disease and make treating
it such a difficult task.
With a pivotal role in fending off infections and disease, white blood cells are the engine room of the body's immune system. But little was known about what happens exactly when these cells reach the end of their life cycles. Scientists have now captured the death of white blood cells on camera for the first time, showing that they eject much of their contents while decomposing. One reason for this could be to warn neighboring cells of dangerous pathogens in the area. The researchers say learning more about their expiration could help bring about improved health treatments in the future.
Researchers from the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have created a new combination material from graphene and diamonds that's able to almost entirely overcome friction. The property, known as superlubricity, is highly sought after for its potential use in a wide range of mechanical systems.
PlanetiQ has begun testing its new Pyxis weather instrument. Pyxis tracks GPS signals traveling through the atmosphere and makes measurements based on their behavior. PlanetiQ says it can "dramatically improve weather forecasting, climate monitoring and space weather prediction."