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Science

— Space

Herschel images present a stunning insight into the distribution of matter in our galaxy

Three stunning new images from ESA's Herschel Space Observatory are providing new insights into how matter is distributed in our galaxy. Observations made by the orbital telescope have led astronomers to conclude that our galaxy is threaded with filamentary structures similar to those featured in the newly-released images, the smallest of which stretches across 170 light years of space.

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New study shows Peek eye test app works like a pro

Peek, the smartphone eye test app designed to improve eyecare in remote areas, has been found to be as accurate as traditional methods. According to a study published last week, tests with the app carried out between December 2013 and March 2014 produced levels of accuracy that were on a par with paper-based charts and expensive illuminated vision boxes found in clinics.

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— Environment

Coated polymer stack promises to keep your roof cool in summer

Of all the scenarios you'd want to find yourself in a heatwave, being barefoot on a hot tin roof would be toward the bottom of the list. These exposed surfaces soak up sunlight to slowly but surely transform into corrugated hotplates, compounding the sweltering ambient temperatures and warming the living space below. But a team of Sydney-based scientists has developed a new material that's claimed capable of keeping a rooftop cooler than the air that surrounds it, saving energy and sweating residents in the process.

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— Science

New SUSTAIN wind-wave research center creates roaring indoor hurricanes

Scientific curiosity around how air interacts with the ocean in the event of powerful storms has inspired a number of wind-emulating facilities around the world, from a high-speed wind-wave tank at Kyoto University to the Hydrodynamics Laboratory at Imperial College London. But just as hurricane season kicks off in the US, a team at the University of Miami is looking to step things up a notch. A freshly built indoor tank designed to study category five storms is now open for business, and as the only one of its kind in the world, is hoped to offer a new understanding of these destructive superstorms.

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— Electronics

Biodegradable computer chips made almost entirely from wood

As electronic devices are becoming outdated at an increasingly fast pace, e-waste continues to be a huge problem. That's why scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have started producing "wooden" semiconductor chips that could almost entirely biodegrade once left in a landfill. As an added bonus, the chips are also flexible, making them prime candidates for use in flexible electronics.

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