News in Brief
Hoverboards and certain cell phones powered by lithium-ion batteries occasionally go up in flames. Scientists now have a new plan for squelching these fires before they flare out of control: incorporating a flame retardant in the battery that’s released if temperatures get too toasty.
Within lithium-ion batteries, ions travel between positive and negative electrodes through a liquid...
The Earth is always moving beneath our feet. What seems permanent, still and solid is in fact constantly creeping. It’s easy to forget that as we race through our busy days, measuring time with digital clocks rather than the achingly slow beat of rock.
In "Evidence falls into place for once and future supercontinents", contributing correspondent Alexandra Witze explores the long-term...
Human cells can snack on silicon.
Cells grown in the lab devour nano-sized wires of silicon through an engulfing process known as phagocytosis, scientists report December 16 in Science Advances.
Silicon-infused cells could merge electronics with biology, says John Zimmerman, a biophysicist now at Harvard University. “It’s still very early days,” he adds, but “the idea is to get...
In a hotel ballroom in Seoul, South Korea, early in 2016, a centuries-old strategy game offered a glimpse into the fantastic future of computing.
The computer program AlphaGo bested a world champion player at the Chinese board game Go, four games to one (SN Online: 3/15/16). The victory shocked Go players and computer gurus alike. “It happened much faster than people expected,” says...
The era of reusable rockets is poised for liftoff.
As of December 7, the aerospace company SpaceX had reported six successful landings — two on land and four at sea — of its reusable Falcon 9 rocket. The August 14 launch of one of the rockets from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida delivered a commercial communications satellite into orbit around the Earth.
Self-driving cars promise to transform roadways. There’d be fewer traffic accidents and jams, say proponents, and greater mobility for people who can’t operate a vehicle. The cars could fundamentally change the way we think about getting around.
The technology is already rolling onto American streets: Uber has introduced self-driving cabs in Pittsburgh and is experimenting with self-...
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...
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Meet the robot that can do parkour.
Salto, a lightweight bot that stands on one skinny leg like a flamingo, can leap from floor to wall, then off again — like parkour athletes bouncing between buildings, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley report December 6 in Science Robotics.
Salto’s not the highest jumping robot out there, but it’s got...
Letters to the Editor
Science’s human side11/16/2016 - 11:07 Science & Society, Technology
In “The SN 10: Scientists to Watch” (SN: 10/1/16, p. 16), Science News recognized 10 up-and-coming scientists across a range of scientific fields who will be answering big questions in the decades to come.
Barry Maletzky thought that highlighting 10 young scientists may have been unfair and detrimental to other researchers. “By drawing attention to just 10, I wonder...
A self-charging textile captures both solar and mechanical energy to power wearable electronic devices — no bulky batteries needed. The top layer contains thin, flexible solar cells woven into a material that harvests energy from the sun. The bottom layer is made from similarly pliable supercapacitors that store the energy for later use, researchers report October 26 in Science Advances....