Posts tagged science
Posts tagged science
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have strapped a moth into a robotic exoskeleton, with the moth successfully controlling the robot to reach a specific location inside a wind tunnel.
In all, fourteen male silkmoths were tested, and they all showed a scary aptitude for steering a robot. In the tests, the moths had to guide the robot towards a source of female sex pheromone. The researchers even introduced a turning bias — where one of the robot’s motors is stronger than the other, causing it to veer to one side — and yet the moths still reached the target.
MOTHS ON TRACKBALLS WILL TAKE OVER THE PLANET
The contents of this hidden ocean have long been a mystery. So Kevin Hand of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and colleague Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology used the Keck Observatory in Hawaii to look at light reflected off Europa and tease out clues from its spectrum.
They found magnesium sulphate on the side of the moon that always faces away from Jupiter. This side is bombarded by radiation channelled by Jupiter’s magnetic field, and by sulphur from volcanoes on the neighbouring moon Io.
All these worlds are yours except Europa attempt no landings there
Graphene micro-supercapacitors are incredible — they have the potential to replace chemical batteries — and there’s a new paper out that details a method for industrial-scale production of them using an off-the-shelf DVD burner. Pretty slick stuff.
Nicholas Wade, The New York Times:
Gaining a deep insight into human evolution, researchers have identified a mutation in a critical human gene as the source of several distinctive traits that make East Asians different from other races.
The traits — thicker hair shafts, more sweat glands, characteristically identified teeth and smaller breasts — are the result of a gene mutation that occurred about 35,000 years ago, the researchers have concluded.
The mutation in the gene was tested on mice. There’s some speculation in the second half of the article on how it was that that mutation was selected for among the East Asian peoples.
Holy shit. What is even happening. Is this really a real product?
Michael Becker, writing on the NY Times Scientist at Work blog:
After much anticipation and with a dash of apprehension I dropped below 10-feet of ice cover and into a place cutoff from all of human history. This is what the unknown feels like.
I had run the scenario of what the dive would be like for days and weeks. I had read stories and talked to the people who have done it. But there is still a great deal of trepidation before you take that final drop into the water and descend into an ice-covered world, totally alone. After weeks to think about the dive, it both confirmed some of my expectations and proved wrong many of my assumptions.
Interesting piece about the evidence that lead exposure and crime reates are highly correlated. I recommend reading it. Although I couldn’t shake the feeling I was being taken for a ride.
I want to start with some apologies. For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.
As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counter-productive path. I now regret it completely.
So I guess you’ll be wondering – what happened between 1995 and now that made me not only change my mind but come here and admit it? Well, the answer is fairly simple: I discovered science, and in the process I hope I became a better environmentalist.
Really great piece.
John Tierney, the New York Times:
When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same, a team of psychologists said Thursday, describing research they conducted of people’s self-perceptions.
They called this phenomenon the “end of history illusion,” in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” According to their research, which involved more than 19,000 people ranging in age from 18 to 68, the illusion persists from teenage years into retirement.