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Graphene Silly Putty detects pitter-patter of spider footsteps

scientist and son show Silly Putty and Silly Putty + graphene

SILLY SENSOR Scientists created a pressure sensor by mixing graphene into polysilicone, a stretchy, viscous goo, forming a gray putty, as shown by study coauthor Jonathan Coleman of Trinity College Dublin. Polysilicone is also found in the children’s toy Silly Putty, shown by Coleman’s son Oisin.

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Graphene-infused Silly Putty forms an electrical sensor that is sensitive enough to detect the gentle caresses of spider feet walking across it.

Mixing graphene, or atom-thick sheets of carbon, and polysilicone, the substance found in the children’s toy Silly Putty, made it conduct electricity. Its electrical resistance was highly sensitive to pressure: Squishing the putty caused the graphene sheets within to shift and disconnect, impeding the flow of electricity.

When placed on a person’s neck over the carotid artery, the putty could monitor pulse and blood pressure via changes in the material’s resistance. The putty could also detect breathing and finger motions. To illustrate just how sensitive the sensor was, scientists coaxed a small spider to walk over the putty; the sensor registered the spider’s footfalls, researchers report December 9 in Science.

Climate,, Oceans

Solar panels are poised to be truly green

By Thomas Sumner 11:00am, December 6, 2016
Solar panels are about to break even on their energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
Chemistry

Names for four new elements get seal of approval

By Emily Conover 1:35pm, November 30, 2016
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has approved the proposed names for the four elements added to the periodic table in December 2015.
Oceans,, Climate,, Animals

Coral die-off in Great Barrier Reef reaches record levels

By Sarah Zielinski 9:43am, November 29, 2016
Bleaching has killed more than two-thirds of corals in some parts of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists have confirmed.
Animals,, Neuroscience,, Psychology

Dogs form memories of experiences

By Laura Sanders 12:00pm, November 23, 2016
New experiments suggest that dogs have some version of episodic memory, allowing them to recall specific experiences.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: Vaginal vulnerability, disease double trouble and more

By Meghan Rosen 12:30pm, November 17, 2016
Puerto Rico cases of Zika suggest that the virus prefers women. And two new findings reveal more about Zika’s transmission and ability to survive outside the body.
Animals

In some ways, hawks hunt like humans

By Helen Thompson 10:57am, November 17, 2016
Raptors may track their prey in similar patterns to primates.
Clinical Trials,, Cancer,, Genetics

Chinese patient is first to be treated with CRISPR-edited cells

By Tina Hesman Saey 7:00am, November 16, 2016
Researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 to engineer immune cells that were then injected into a patient with lung cancer, the journal Nature reports.
Climate,, Animals

Skimpy sea ice linked to reindeer starvation on land

By Susan Milius 7:23pm, November 15, 2016
Unseasonably scant sea ice may feed rain storms inland that lead to ice catastrophes that kill Yamal reindeer and threaten herders’ way of life.
Climate,, Pollution

CO2 emissions stay steady for third consecutive year

By Thomas Sumner 8:30am, November 15, 2016
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from human activities will probably see almost no increase in 2016 despite economic growth.
Animals,, Biophysics,, Conservation

Narwhals are really, really good at echolocation

By Helen Thompson 11:33am, November 11, 2016
Audio recordings from the Arctic suggest that narwhals take directional sonar to the extreme.
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