Chemistry, News

Introducing stanene: just like graphene, except it’s a 2D tin honeycomb


After graphene proved to be one of the greatest discovery of the century, material scientists became inspired to see if other 2D meshes (just one atom thick layer of material) could be made from other elements. In time, we’ve heared about silicene, phosphorene or germanene. Now, a group from China reports for the first time stanene: a honeycomb 2D arrangement of tin (Sn) atoms, with a a bismuth telluride support that buckles the whole structure. Stanene is extremely exciting because it’s been previously theorized that it could transfer electricity without heat loss, implying huge energy savings and increased performance for semiconductor applications.

Health & Medicine, News

Why you’re freezing in the office: AC thermostat is optimized for a 154 pounds, 40-year-old man


Women often complain the AC is turned way too high at work. Many are forced by necessity to come to work on a hot summer day with a spare sweater or a freaking Snuggie, while men coworkers seem to be all fine, comfortable wearing only shorts and a T-shirt. Clearly, some people feel colder or hotter than others when exposed to the same temperature. However, I think nowadays it’s no secret that most women get terribly uncomfortable in the conditions set by most thermostats at work. Now, a new study suggests that the way climate control in office buildings has been designed in the past couple of decades is discriminatory and doesn’t reflect reality. That’s because although in most workplaces today you’ll find men and women in equal proportion, the AC is geared to provide the optimal comfort conditions for a 154 pounds, 40 year-old man. This profile may have been representative 50 years ago, but today it’s outdated. It’s time to align thermostats with today’s needs.

Health & Medicine

Semen regulates female’s gene expression and behavior (curbs depression, for instance)

Image: Healthtap

There’s more to seminal fluid, which makes up to 70% of semen’s composition, than procreation. Scientists are only recently beginning to understand how the seminal fluid is interacting with the female brain and body, and findings so far may be surprising for some. For instance, in animals – including humans – semen affects the female reproductive tract, to maximize the changes of conception. But it doesn’t stop here. The influence of semen on females might go even beyond this. In experiments on fruit flies, scientists found the females had altered gene expression post semen exposure, while males produce more seminal proteins when there are more rivals. Suddenly, semen just got a heck of a lot more complicated.

News, Robotics, Technology

A Chinese factory replaced 90% of its employees with robots – production soared soon after

A 2010 photo shows assembly line workers at a Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, a city in southern China. Shifts are 12 hours, with two breaks for meals at a company cafeteria. Robots don't have to eat though or take a break. Hence robots are better.

Evenwin Precision Technology, an electronics processing company, sacked 90% of its employees, replaced them with robots and saw productivity soar. Previously, there were 650 employees at the factory, now there are 60 – mostly engineers and accountants that oversee the production lines – and the number should go down to 20, according to company officials. The robots have produced almost three times as many pieces as were produced before. Quality has also improved. The product defect rate was 25%, now it is below 5%.

Health & Medicine, Science

The age of the centenarians: elderly population over 100 years to increase ten fold by 2035


If you were born in 1900, you could call yourself lucky if you’d seen a day past your 50th birthday. The XXth century, however, marked an amazing leap in longevity thanks to the advent of vaccines, increased public health awareness and medical discoveries. In time, the leading causes of death and illness have shifted from infectious and parasitic diseases to noncommunicable diseases and chronic conditions. Sure, more people die today of cancer and heart disease than ever before, but it sure beats dying of typhoid. The extra decades in lifespan sure don’t sound bad, either. Life expectancy at birth now exceeds 83 years in Japan—the current leader—and is at least 81 years in several other countries. The trend seems to be accelerating, especially for those at the extreme lifespan end. The population of adults 85 and older is projected to increase 351 percent by 2050, while those older than 100 will increase 10-fold between 2010 and 2050.

News, Technology

Is Google actually building its own cars?

A band of Google's self-driving Lexus vehicles. Image: Google

Self-driving cars have a promising future, and leading the pack technologically is Google, now a household name that has long transcended its status as a search engine. First and foremost, Google is a technology company and its interest are aligned with anything cutting edge, whether it’s information technology or hardware (smart homes, smart appliances, cars). Since 2011 when Google first showcased its extremely successful self-driving Prius, later switched for a Lexus, the company has been making rapid progress. But Google rarely experiments just for the sake of it. Part of its philosophy is turning disruptive technology into a product, get it out to the people. But how do you go about self-driving cars, considering the auto business is one of the riskiest in the world? Well, just like it did with the Android for smartphones, Google could partner with the leading automakers supplying the technology. Indeed, Google confirmed this January that it had talks with General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen. But some highly interesting documents gathered by The Guardian suggests a possible alternate route. Google might actually build its own cars, all from scratch.

Feature Post

14 GIFs that surprise a product being made: deep inside the plant

how it's made bullet

There’s nothing like seeing a carpenter working his magic, turning a piece of wood into something almost life bearing. It’s all about the process. Personally, however, I also enjoy watching how mass produced goods are made. So many intricate machines working together seamlessly, step by step shaping up a product with each turn of a gear. A plant might not

Climate, News, World Problems

“Climate change is a security risk,” Pentagon report reads

A Russian deep-diving miniature submarine is lowered from the research vessel Akademik Fyodorov moments before performing a dive in the Arctic Ocean beneath the ice at the North Pole in 2007. Photograph: Vladimir Chistyakov/AP

On Wednesday, the Department of Defense issued a report in which it highlights the global security implications of climate change. In the report, the authors note that climate change will exacerbate current world problems like ” poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries.”

Biology, News

Plants signal stress like animals do: with neurotransmitters

When faced by drought, a plant will send a chemical signal across its cells to change the way the plant grows and uses resources. Image: Flickr

Plants signal stress when they’re affected by drought, high temperatures or a disease using the same chemical and electrical signals that animal use. In animals, these chemicals and signals are delivered, carried and interpreted by the nervous system, which is why it’s surprising to find plants use this mechanism. The “machinery”, however, is different suggesting plants and animals separately evolved the same communication mechanism.

News, Technology

Eyes up above: you can’t lie satellite imagery

The shadows in such images can indicate the fullness of an oil container. Image: Orbital Insight

A couple decades ago, satellite were solely the provision of governments, since they were the only ones that could afford launching billions dollars worth of tech into space. Slowly but surely, corporations hitched a ride and now, when an imaging satellite can fit in the palm of your hand and costs only a fraction it used to, small enterprises are flourishing. Along with them is innovation.