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  • News

    Earwigs take origami to extremes to fold their wings

    To quickly unfurl and refold their wings, earwigs stretch the rules of origami.

    Yes, those garden pests that scurry out from under overturned flowerpots can also fly. Because earwigs spend most of their time underground and only occasionally take to the air, they pack their wings into packages with a surface area more than 10 times smaller than when unfurled, using an origami-like series...

    03/22/2018 - 14:10 Biophysics, Animals, Materials, Robotics
  • News in Brief

    These petunias launch seeds that spin 1,660 times a second

    Nature may have a few things to teach tennis players about backspin.

    The hairyflower wild petunia (Ruellia ciliatiflora) shoots seeds that spin up to 1,660 times per second, which helps them fly farther, researchers report March 7 in Journal of the Royal Society Interface. These seeds have the fastest known rotations of any plant or animal, the authors say. Plants that disperse seeds a...

    03/06/2018 - 19:06 Plants, Biophysics
  • News in Brief

    A fake organ mimics what happens in the blink of an eye

    AUSTIN, Texas — A new artificial organ gives a new meaning to the phrase “making eyes.”

    For the first time, researchers used human cells to build a model of the surface of the eye that’s equipped with a fake eyelid that mimics blinking. This synthetic eye could be used to study and test treatments for eye diseases, researchers reported February 16 in a news conference at the annual...

    02/20/2018 - 17:15 Biophysics, Technology, Cells
  • News in Brief

    This stick-on patch could keep tabs on stroke patients at home

    AUSTIN, Texas — Stretchy sensors that stick to the throat could track the long-term recovery of stroke survivors.

    These new Band-Aid‒shaped devices contain motion sensors that detect muscle movement and vocal cord vibrations. That sensor data could help doctors diagnose and monitor the effectiveness of certain treatments for post-stroke conditions like difficulty swallowing or talking,...

    02/17/2018 - 16:00 Technology, Health, Biophysics
  • News

    Trove of hummingbird flight data reveals secrets of nimble flying

    View the video

    Lab-grade flight tracking has gone wild, creating a broad new way of studying some of the flashiest of natural acrobats, wild hummingbirds.

    One of the findings: Bigger hummingbird species don’t seem handicapped by their size when it comes to agility. A battleship may not be as maneuverable as a kayak, but in a study of 25 species, larger hummingbirds outdid smaller...

    02/08/2018 - 18:37 Animals, Biophysics, Evolution
  • News

    Slower speed, tricky turns give prey a chance against cheetahs and lions

    First, a note to any impala suddenly rushed by a cheetah: Do not — repeat, do not — just zoom straight off as fast as four hooves can carry you.

    The best escape move, according to analysis of the most detailed chase data yet from big cat predators, is some fluky turn, even though turning requires a slower stride. Swerve far enough, and the cheetah will be racing too fast to make the same...

    01/29/2018 - 10:00 Animals, Biophysics, Evolution
  • Science Ticker

    A robotic arm made of DNA moves at dizzying speed

    A new robotic arm made of DNA moves 100,000 times faster than previous DNA machinery.

    The DNA nanobot is shaped like a gearshift, with an extendible arm that ranges from 25 to more than 400 nanometers long that’s attached to a 55-by-55-nanometer platform. Researchers remotely control this DNA device, described in the Jan. 19 Science, with electric fields that tug on charged molecules in...

    01/18/2018 - 14:00 Biophysics, Technology
  • News

    This artificial cartilage gets its strength from the stuff in bulletproof vests

    A new kind of artificial cartilage, made with the same kind of fiber that fortifies bulletproof vests, is proving stronger than others.

    The fabricated material mimics the stiffness, toughness and water content of natural cartilage, researchers report in the Jan. 4 Advanced Materials. This synthetic tissue could replace the cartilage in a person’s body that naturally wears down and heals...

    01/10/2018 - 07:00 Materials, Biophysics
  • Science Visualized

    Why some birds of paradise have ultrablack feathers

    Some birds of paradise really know how to work their angles. Tilted, microscopic filaments in some of the showy birds’ black feathers make that plumage look much darker than traditional black feathers, researchers report online January 9 in Nature Communications.

    Dakota McCoy, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, and colleagues measured how much light each type of black...

    01/09/2018 - 11:44 Animals, Biophysics
  • It's Alive

    Robot fish shows how the deepest vertebrate in the sea takes the pressure

    It’s like having “an elephant stand on your thumb.”

    That’s how deep-sea physiologist and ecologist Mackenzie Gerringer describes the pressure squeezing down on the deepest known living fish, some 8 kilometers down. What may help these small, pale Mariana snailfish survive elephantine squashing, says Gerringer of the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs, is a body bulked up,...

    01/03/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Biophysics, Physiology