Very distant fast radio bursts — Astronomers have spent the past dozen years hunting for fast radio bursts (FRBs). These flashes of radio waves come from outer space and last just milliseconds. And after a dozen years of work we still don’t know exactly what causes them, only that it must be something very powerful, as they’ve clearly travelled a long way (billions of light-years).
~ And strewth! They’re making progress thanks to an Australian array.
Strange twinkling star — Typically, if the planet-hunting Kepler telescope saw a regularly dimming star, that would signal the presence of an exoplanet periodically passing between the star and Earth. But researchers identified a star called EPIC 249706694 (HD 139139) that seems to dim at random, and the team hasn’t been able to come up with an explanation for the weird observation.
~ How they wonder what you are.
Torque of light — A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Spain and the US has announced that they have discovered a new property of light: self-torque. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes how they happened to spot the new property and possible uses for it.
CRISPR for Russian deaf — Five deaf Russian couples want to try the CRISPR gene-editing technique so they can have a biological child who can hear, biologist Denis Rebrikov has told New Scientist. He plans to apply to the relevant Russian authorities for permission in “a couple of weeks”. The parents have a recessive form of deafness, meaning all their children would normally inherit the same condition.
~ Perhaps this is justified, then.
Origins of metabolism identified — A Rutgers-led study sheds light on one of the most enduring mysteries of science: how did metabolism – the process by which life powers itself by converting energy from food into movement and growth – begin?
~ Well, if you’re going to reverse-engineer primordial proteins …
Solar powered train — The Byron Bay Railroad Company in Australia operates a 100-seat vintage train on a short 6-kilometre route that basically goes from a town and down to a resort and beach, then back. A couple of years ago the town decided to invest in converting the train to pure EV, powered by the sun.
~ Yes, this formerly polluting diesel train is now 100% powered by the sun 100% of the time.
Erasable ink — Recycling paper is good but it still takes its toll on the environment. Researchers at Rutgers have come up with a new way to erase ink off a printed page, allowing it to be run through a printer again and again. This works with regular old copy paper and the standard toner used in copiers around the world, trading lasers for high-intensity xenon lamps that pulse light.
~ The page can be wiped clean using a small amount of alcohol. I’ll drink to that.
Force field against water — Researchers at MIT have found a way to make water-repellent surfaces better shed a soaking.
The new method builds on research from about six years ago when it was discovered that small macroscopic features added to a surface, such as a series of nearly imperceptible ridges, helped break up a water drop’s shape and symmetry as it recoils from an impact, increasing the speed at which it bounces away from that surface. More complex structures reduce the spread of water droplets, meaning they’re less likely to turn to use on, say, aircraft fuselages.
~ The new structures can also be applied to fabrics.
Canon adds a camera to a flash drive — Canon promises it’s shockproof and waterproof (to a depth of just 1m, however, it’s not for divers) and its 13 megapixel 1/3-inch CMOS sensor can also record hi-def video at 60 frames per second.
~ It’s clever: the carabiner clip lets you frame the photo, as it has no LCD screen, or you can monitor it from your smartphone.