Planetary reshuffle — A team of scientists has just demonstrated that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth on average. The researchers presented their results this week in an article in the magazine Physics Today. They explained that other methods of calculating which planet is ‘the closest’ has been oversimplifying the matter.
~ Further, Mercury is the closest neighbour, on average, to each of the other seven planets in the solar system!
Sound waves carry mass — Surprising new research shows there are still secrets waiting to be found, hidden in plain sight—or, at least in this case, within earshot.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, a group of scientists theorised that sound waves possess mass, meaning sounds would be directly affected by gravity. They suggest phonons, particle-like collective excitations responsible for transporting sound waves across a medium, might exhibit a tiny amount of mass in a gravitational field.
~ So, you really can get a sound stuck in your head!
Shape blocks almost all sound — A team of Boston University researchers recently stuck a loudspeaker into one end of a PVC pipe. They cranked it up loud. What did they hear? Nothing.
The pipe was actually left open save for a small, 3D-printed ring placed around the rim. That ring cut 94% of the sound blasting from the speaker: enough to make it inaudible to the human ear.
The implications for architecture and interior design are remarkable, because these metamaterials could be applied to the built environment in many different ways. For instance, they could be stacked to build soundproof ,yet transparent, walls.
~ It’s an ‘acoustic meta material’.
Nano-threading plants to modify DNA — Modifying the genetics of a plant requires getting DNA into its cells. That’s fairly easy to do with animal cells, but with plants it’s a different matter thanks to their cell-membrane walls. UC Berkeley researcher Markita Landry found a way to do it using carbon nanotubes: tiny long stiff tubes of carbon.
~ So can we now modify plants to pick and cook themselves?.
Origami inspires better grippers — Robotic hands have a tough time getting a grip on pliable objects as rigid pincers aren’t designed for precision grasping. Now researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Harvard describe a novel gripper design that’s capable of lifting items in a range of weights, shapes, and sizes.
The team’s hollow, cone-shaped gripper comprises three parts — a 3D-printed, 16-piece silicone rubber skeleton with a gripper-to-mount connector encased by an airtight skin — that together collapse in on objects as opposed to clutching them.
Blurry still images become video frames — Researchers from Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s (EPFL) Engineering Mechanics of Soft Interfaces Laboratory worked with another team from Harvard University’s SMRLab to develop a way to analyse blurry photos and generate step-by- step frames representing detailed slices of the original motion that previously appeared to be frozen in time.
~ And this tech could be coming to smartphones soon.
Ancient British pork-rests at Stonehenge — Prehistoric Britons travelled impressive distances to attend celebrations at monumental sites like Stonehenge, according to new research. Incredibly, many of them brought their pigs along with them for the journey – an impressive feat considering some participants came from hundreds of miles away. They brought their locally raised pigs with them, which were then slaughtered and served at these mass gatherings.
~ Scientists have realised they can analyse pig bones as proxies for human bones to reconstruct human movements.
Greenland ice preserves solar stem relics — Traces of an enormous solar storm that battered the atmosphere and showered Earth in radioactive particles more than 2500 years ago (in 660 BC) have been discovered under the Greenland ice sheet.
~ That explains those ancient complaints about bad cell phone reception.
Mammoth cells ‘reawakened’ in mice — Cells from a woolly mammoth that died more than 28,000 years ago have been partially reactivated inside mouse egg cells.
~ So, learn to fear the massive woolly mouse!