When it comes to artificial muscles, researchers at from National Taiwan University really know their onions. The team applied an uncanny design in which they layered gold atop the treated skin of onions. Once an electrical current was discharged, the “onion muscle” contracted and bent, just like the real thing. There’s a whole slew of possible applications for artificial muscles, from so-called “soft robotics” (flesh-like droids), to of course helping injured humans.
A group of paleontologists have unearthed fossils preserved in pristine condition belonging to a new ancient avian species that lived some 130 million years ago. Dating suggests it’s the oldest ancestor to modern day birds found thus far, beating the previous record holder by about six million years. The findings also suggest that different bird groups were already well established and spread through the world even in the early Cretaceous.
Canadian researchers found that kids born out of parents with a history of sleepwalking are more likely to experience somnambulism. They found 60% of kids whose both parents reported sleepwalking also took slumbering walks in the middle of the night, or seven times more likely than kids whose parents had no history of sleepwalking. Children with only one sleepwalking parent were three time more likely to sleep walk.
Computer science and the major principles behind it.
Inspired by quadcopters and airplanes alike, NASA engineered made the best of both worlds and designed a 10-engine electric craft that can hover like a drone, but also cruise like a plane. Called Greased Lightning or GL-10, the craft is allegedly four times more efficient than a helicopter in cruise mode, while also retaining vertical take off capabilities.
Some news outlets were quick to label beards as toilets. I disagree.
Yesterday, Samantha Cristoforetti sipped the first coffee brewed in space using the newly delivered micro-gravity espresso machine. How befitting that the first espresso in space was made by an Italian. Living in space thus got a lot pleasant, but there’s a lot more to this than just making life more enjoyable for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Along with the espresso machine, six carefully crafted coffee mugs were also supplied. Previously, to consume liquids astronauts had to suck them out of a plastic bag. The new 3-D printed, transparent jugs behave more like a coffee mug in normal Earth gravity. Exploiting capillary flow, the mugs have a sharp inner corner that allows the liquid to be pushed along the inside of the cup and towards the astronaut’s lips.
Apart from echolocation, bats have another ace up their sleeve that makes them formidable flying animals: tiny hairs that sense airflow and transmit this information to key areas of the brain. Here the info is decoded and used to steer the bats’ flight for pinpoint accuracy. In combination with echolocation, this makes bats awesome hunters even in pitch black darkness.
For most smokers, the message that cigarettes are fatally bad for their health often doesn’t come across. But if that message came written in ink made from pitch black lungs? It’s a morbid concept, one that was actually followed through by BBDO Proximity Thailand, an agency which commissioned the charcoal ink, part of an anti-smoking effort for the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.
Here’s a great collection of retro space posters put together by some valiant bloke on imgur. It’s really amazing how far humans have traveled beyond our fragile home world, both personally or with their spacecraft contraptions. But some of us seem to forget this. With all this suffering and injustice happening in the world, it’s easy to discount humans as a plague. These artworks serve as a reminder that our species can be truly amazing, transcendental even.