Graphene – the one atom thick sheet of carbon arranged in a hexagon lattice – is the strongest material known to man, and spider silk is one of the strongest found in nature, second only to limpet teeth. Heck, why not combine the two? Sounds silly, but it surprisingly worked when Nicola Pugno of the University of Trento, Italy sprayed spiders with both graphene particles and carbon nanotubes. The spiders weaved silk infused with the materials, and in some cases the silk was 3.5 times stronger than its natural counterpart. The resulting fiber is tougher than “synthetic polymeric high performance fibers (e.g. Kevlar49) and even the current toughest knotted fibers,” according to the paper published in Materials Science, which obviously entails a lot of real-life applications, industrial or otherwise.
Norwegian artist Andreas Lie [shop here] blends animal imagery with landscape photography to create amazing series of double exposure animal portraits. His images highlight the animals superimposed on their habitats, in a photographic effect called double exposure. Here are more of his images:
At least 21 cockatoos have been discovered and saved from illegal trafficking; they were recovered at an Indonesian port during an anti-smuggling operation, crammed in 1500 ml bottles. Unfortunately, seven of them didn’t survive.
One of the perks of being a writer for ZME Science is that I frequently get to feature some really amazing, yet bizarre creatures. Take for instance Ottoia prolifica (priapulid) or the penis-worm as it’s also known, for obvious reasons. This phallic creature actually had a throat full of teeth which it used to munch its meaty prey, and the weirdness doesn’t stop here. It could its mouth inside-out and use those teeth for traction so it could easily move about. Talk about double standards. Now, a team has systematically studied these ancient Cambrian fossils (520 million years old) to compile a dentistry handbook to distinguish between other penis worm species. This proved to be wise, since in their compiling work the researchers at University of Cambridge have already reported what they believe to be new Ottoia species.
One of the most famous NSA whistleblowers (or the ‘original NSA whistleblower’), William Binney, said the agency is collecting stupendous amounts of data – so much that it’s actually hampering intelligence operations.
Spring – for some people it’s the most beautiful time of the year, when the snows melt, the sun shines brighter and hotter and everything turns green, while for others, it’s hell on Earth. For people with allergies, especially pollen allergies, spring is sneeze season. But as some researchers found, pollen does more than trigger a nasty allergy – it can actually influence the weather.
While fjords are admired worldwide for their unique beauty, a new study has found that these natural ecosystems also act as carbon sinks, playing an important role in regulating our planet’s climate.
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.
Five years after the British Petroleum catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, Mexican fishermen have still not received any compensation, so they’ve decided to sue the oil giant.
The 74 largest terrestrial herbivores are on the verge of extinction, a new worrying study has found. All in all, over half of all large terrestrial herbivores are on the verge of extinction – and we’re to blame.