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Science

— Biology

Weak electrical field found to carry information around the brain

In a development that could lead to improved understanding of memory formation and epilepsy, scientists have discovered a new way information may be traveling throughout the brain. The team has identified slow-moving brainwaves it says could be carried only by the brain's gentle electrical field, a mechanism previously thought to be incapable of spreading neural signals altogether.

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— Space

Latest Falcon 9 sea landing fails

SpaceX's latest attempt to make a powered landing on a sea barge has ended in failure. At 10:51 am PST, a Falcon 9 booster touched down on the unmanned drone barge "Just Read the Instructions" in Pacific Ocean 250 miles off San Diego, but telemetry indicated that a landing leg buckled on touchdown. The failed landing came about nine minutes after the Falcon 9 delivered the Jason-3 mission into a polar low-Earth orbit..

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— Materials

Coating highlights microscopic cracks, before they lead to disaster

Whether they're on airplanes, bridges or pipelines, even the tiniest of cracks can fast lead to catastrophic failures. That's why it's important to identify them as early as possible, before they get out of hand. With that in mind, scientists at the University of Illinois have created a new polymer coating that can be applied to a wide variety of structural materials. When those materials crack – even a little – the polymer changes color to let inspectors know that something's up.

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— Medical

Motorized spermbots help weak swimmers along to boost fertility

There are a number of possible solutions available to those having trouble conceiving, including artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, but these treatments are far from a surefire fix. Researchers at IFW Dresden in Germany are working towards another approach they hope will provide better results by targeting a key driver of infertility, sperm that don't swim well. The team has now demonstrated sets of motorized "spermbots" that can give weaker swimmers a much needed boost to the egg.

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— Space

Juno Jupiter probe sets solar-powered space distance record

NASA's unmanned Juno deep space probe may still be over six months away from reaching Jupiter, but it's already flown into the record books. On Wednesday, January 13 at 2:00 pm EST (19:00 GMT) the planetary orbiter became the most distant solar-powered craft from Earth as it passed a point 493 million miles (793 million km) from the Sun. Juno is the ninth deep space probe to visit the outer Solar System and the first to rely on solar panels for power instead of nuclear generators.

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