Human use of land for crops and herds has completely altered the world's landscapes. A new field of research called experimental socio-ecology looks to the past to predict the consequences of this type of human activity in the future. Researchers at Arizona State University have spent the last 10 years studying the effects that small-scale farmers have had on land in the Mediterranean, and now they have released a report with the findings of the project.
With the development of photonic chips and nano-optics, the old ground glass lenses can't keep up in the race toward miniaturization. In the search for a suitable replacement, a team from the Swinburne University of Technology has developed a graphene microlens one billionth of a meter thick that can take sharper images of objects the size of a single bacterium and opens the door to improved mobile phones, nanosatellites, and computers.
An international team of researchers claim that the internal structure of vast galaxy clusters, containing thousands of individual galaxies, may be shaped by the dark matter environments in which they evolve. The study also provides evidence for a theoretical notion known as assembly bias.
A team at Stanford claims to have made a battery breakthrough that could boost the performance of lithium-ion batteries and also make them smaller and lighter. The researchers managed to remove two long-standing barriers to these improvements by putting silicon particles in graphene "cages."
We live in an age of plastics, but even after a century of progress, most polymers still come in a single, homogenous form with basic properties. Now a team of researchers at Northwestern University under the leadership of materials scientist Samuel Stupp have developed a hybrid polymer that combines soft and hard areas like bones and muscles in animals. According to the team, this breakthrough in nanoengineering opens the door to applications ranging from self-repairing materials to artificial muscles.
Since December, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been as close as it will get to the surface of Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. The space agency and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory have put together the most comprehensive video tour yet from the spacecraft's lowest mapping orbit.
Results are back from one of the latest experiments hosted on the International Space Station (ISS), with researchers from Spain's National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) using the facility to study how hardy fungi species, collected from the Antarctic, cope under simulated Martian conditions. The results are helping scientists gain insights relevant to the search for life on the Red Planet.
Opiates have brought pain relief to humankind for hundreds of years, but they don't come without consequences. Motor impairment and respiratory depression are a couple of potential side effects, but from opium-dependent Chinese of the mid-19th century to the morphine-riddled soldiers of the Vietnam War, the risk of addiction remains the biggest problem. Researchers have now developed a new painkiller they claim to be as strong as morphine, but without much of this unwanted baggage.
A latin American seed once used by Mayans as body paint and today as an orange food coloring in your cheddar cheese may prove useful in the fight against skin cancer. Scientists have found that a compound found in natural food additive annatto prevents the formation of cancer cells resulting from UV radiation in mice, and are now exploring whether annatto-rich diets can prevent similar sun damage in humans.
SpaceX has successfully carried out a drop test for the four main parachutes that will form the principal stage of the Crew Dragon's descent system. The test, and many others like it, are a necessary step required to be completed by the next-gen spacecraft in order for SpaceX to fulfil its obligations under NASA's Commercial Crew Program.