Science: What Geeks are talking about from PhysOrg


Here is the latest Science News from PhysOrg.

China’s high-tech future emerges in factory town Shenzhen
Forget Beijing and Shanghai. China’s economic future is emerging in Shenzhen.

Edible worms, pingpong bots: Startups find mecca in Shenzhen
Shenzhen is the world’s electronics manufacturing capital, so what better place to be for entrepreneurs with ideas they want to turn into actual devices?

‘Now or never’ to save Barrier Reef: scientists
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef could be beyond saving in five years without “now or never” funding to improve water quality as climate change ravages the World Heritage-listed site, scientists warned Thursday.

After conservative meet, Zuckerberg says Facebook open to ‘all ideas’
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says conservatives are an important part of the social network after a meeting aimed at defusing concerns it is politically biased.

Tampering the current in a petri dish
Electricity plays a key role in cell studies, but practical issues linked with the shape of the laboratory cultureware have troubled this research. Laboratory cultureware are the plastic containers used by researchers to grow cells. These containers are typically shallow cylinders: a classic example is a petri dish. While a petri dish is circular, the simplest way to create a uniform electric field is based on a rectangular shape. These different geometries prevent scientists to fully exploit the potential of a cell cultureware, as a significant part of the round petri dish base remains outside the field-generating rectangle that goes into the cultureware. A PhD student’s project, which has led to a patent application and a published article in Scientific Reports, is radically changing this situation.

Fighting the Zika virus with the power of supercomputing
Rutgers is taking a leading role in an IBM-sponsored World Community Grid project that will use supercomputing power to identify potential drug candidates to cure the Zika virus.

Making injectable medicine safer
Bring the drugs, hold the suds. That summarizes a promising new drug-making technique designed to reduce serious allergic reactions and other side effects from anti-cancer medicine, testosterone and other drugs that are administered with a needle.

Researchers say gallium could be used as a new reversible adhesive
Some adhesives may soon have a metallic sheen and be particularly easy to unstick. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart are suggesting gallium as just such a reversible adhesive. By inducing slight changes in temperature, they can control whether a layer of gallium sticks or not. This is based on the fact that gallium transitions from a solid state to a liquid state at around 30 degrees Celsius. A reversible adhesive of this kind could have applications everywhere that temporary adhesion is required, such as industrial pick-and-place processes, transfer printing, temporary wafer bonding, or for moving sensitive biological samples such as tissues and organs. Switchable adhesion could also be suitable for use on the feet of climbing robots.

New type of graphene-based transistor will increase the clock speed of processors
Scientists have developed a new type of graphene-based transistor and modeling demonstrates that it has ultralow power consumption compared with other similar transistor devices. The findings have been published in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports. The most important effect of reducing power consumption is that it enables increased processor clock speeds—according to calculations, as much as two orders of magnitude higher.

Vision assists ants to stabilise their head – until darkness falls
A study of Australian endemic nocturnal bull ants has found that they rely upon visual cues to stabilise their heads when navigating uneven ground.

Mars—closest, biggest, and brightest in a decade
Look low in the southeast at nightfall, and an unusually bright, fire-yellow “star” will be staring back at you. It’s the planet Mars, closer to Earth now than it has been since November 2005.

Image: African mosaic from Copernicus Sentinel data
Using almost 7000 images captured by the Sentinel-2A satellite, this mosaic offers a cloud-free view of the African continent – about 20% of the total land area in the world. The majority of these separate images were taken between December 2015 and April 2016, totalling 32 TB of data. Thanks to Sentinel-2A’s 290 km-wide swath and 10-day revisit at the equator, the chance of imaging Earth’s surface when the skies are clear is relatively high. Nevertheless, being able to capture the Tropics cloud-free over the five months is remarkable.

Nuclear techniques reveal inner structure of iron meteorities non-invasively
Neutron computer tomography at ANSTO has been used in one of the first studies to reconstruct the interior structure of rare iron meteorites non-invasively.

Opinion: Four arguments for ethical online shaming (and four problems with them)
In democracies, it’s pretty difficult to bring about any agreement on anything. So when there is general consensus that something is a problem, I think it’s a good idea for us to sit up and pay attention. And few things have earned more consensus of late than online shaming. From Jon Ronson’s work to Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk, all the way down to the Ashley Madison affair, people are starting to get a little antsy about the way reputations can be made or broken online.

The small wind turbines you’ll want in your back yard
A European Commission strategic plan wants to see 20 percent penetration of wind energy throughout the E.U. by 2020. The growing trend for decentralised energy generation by home and business owners could help meet this target using small and medium turbines. But they continue to divide opinion due to noise and health concerns.

New metal alloys overcome strength-ductility tradeoff
For centuries—in fact, since the Bronze Age began some 7,000 years ago—the creation of new metallic alloys has mostly been a trial-and-error process. Traditionally, one metal constituent was always dominant, with others making up a small fraction of the recipe. But a new study suggests a novel strategy that could help direct efforts to overturn this ancient lore, opening the way for new classes of alloys with previously unseen combinations of properties.

New Horizons collects first science on a post-Pluto object
Warming up for a possible extended mission as it speeds through deep space, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has now twice observed 1994 JR1, a 90-mile (145-kilometer) wide Kuiper Belt object (KBO) orbiting more than 3 billion miles (5 billion kilometers) from the sun. Science team members have used these observations to reveal new facts about this distant remnant of the early solar system.

Antimony fails to work inside a magnesium battery, but it’s just what tin needs to store energy
With more capacity and fewer safety issues than their lithium counterparts, magnesium batteries are potentially a promising energy storage option, but the electrodes are difficult to produce and quickly fail. Scientists want something better. Inspired by a two-metal electrode, made of tin and antimony, a team at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) delved into the atomic workings of this alloy. They saw the metals separate into antimony- and tin-rich regions. The tin regions worked well; the antimony-rich areas did not. However, the antimony regions were crucial: at the interface, or border, between the two regions, the antimony kept the tin structure from collapsing.

Image: Water etchings in Western Mexico sands
Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA (@astro_tim) shared this May 15, 2016 photograph taken from the International Space Station to social media, writing, “Water etchings in western @Mexico sands. @Space_Station #Explore”

Nature vs. nurture? Both are important, anthropologist argues
Evolutionary science stresses the contributions biology makes to our behavior. Some anthropologists try to understand how societies and histories construct our identities, and others ask about how genes and the environment do the same thing. Which is the better approach? Both are needed, argues Agustin Fuentes, University of Notre Dame biological anthropologist.

Understanding a natural cloaking mechanism
Researchers at Yale and in Europe are exploring a natural “cloaking” mechanism that allows certain elastic materials—think Jell-O, for instance—to imbibe substantial amounts of liquid droplets without changing their own mechanical properties. Writing in the May 18 online edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society A, John Wettlaufer and his colleagues expanded on previous work about surface tension to find the limits of such natural cloaking.

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