Manta rays were built for speed — and to filter feed.
The aerodynamic ocean dwellers efficiently separate plankton from seawater using a previously unknown kind of filtration system that resists clogs and captures tiny bits of plankton, researchers report September 26 in Science Advances.
Mantas are filter feeders, like many other ocean creatures. They pull plankton-laden seawater...
Ibrahim Cissé, 35Physics and biophysicsMIT09/26/2018 - 08:33 Genetics, Physics, Cells
Ibrahim Cissé expected to join his father’s law firm one day. “There were no scientists where I grew up in Niger,” says the MIT biophysicist. “I certainly didn’t know [science] was a profession one could do.”
But Cissé’s parents had a telling clue about their young son’s eventual career path: a door sign he made that read “Laboratoire de...
Lisa Manning, 38Physics and biologySyracuse University09/26/2018 - 08:30 Biomedicine, Cells, Development, Physics
Think of tissues as mosh pits of cells. The cells may not be able to crowd surf, but they can jam.
Specifically, cells can undergo a jamming transition, a physical role change that was previously known to occur only among foams, sand and other nonliving materials. It’s one of the ways that physicist Lisa Manning has shown how...
A strand of spaghetti snaps easily, but an exotic substance known as nuclear pasta is an entirely different story.
Predicted to exist in ultradense dead stars called neutron stars, nuclear pasta may be the strongest material in the universe. Breaking the stuff requires 10 billion times the force needed to crack steel, for example, researchers report in a study accepted in Physical Review...
News in Brief
Save your breath: A new way to make bubbles requires only sound waves.
Scientists made the bubbles in levitated drops of liquid, held aloft with sound waves. Tweaking the sound waves caused the hovering drop to balloon into a bubble.
The team formed the bubbles using a variety of liquids, including water. Increasing the intensity of the sound made the liquid first buckle into a...
Superconductors are heating up, and a world record-holder may have just been dethroned.
Two studies report evidence of superconductivity — the transmission of electricity without resistance — at temperatures higher than seen before. The effect appears in compounds of lanthanum and hydrogen squeezed to extremely high pressures.
All known superconductors must be chilled to function,...
Letters to the Editor
Sunny-side up09/06/2018 - 06:15 Astronomy, Physics, Earth
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is on its way to “touch” the sun. Maria Temming reported on the mission before the August 12 launch in “NASA’s Parker probe is about to get up close and personal with the sun” (SN: 7/21/18, p. 12).
Astronomy writer Lisa Grossman, who wrote a follow-up story, answered readers’ questions about the probe on Reddit.
Reddit user Gildolen...
We now have the most precise estimates for the strength of gravity yet.
Two experiments measuring the tiny gravitational attraction between objects in a lab have measured Newton’s gravitational constant, or Big G, with an uncertainty of only about 0.00116 percent. Until now, the smallest margin of uncertainty for any G measurement has been 0.00137 percent.
The new set of G values,...
Here’s good news for anyone who’s had to sweep up pasta shards after snapping dry spaghetti and thought, “there’s got to be a better way.”
Simply bending a stick of spaghetti in half typically shatters it into three or more fragments. That’s because when the stick breaks, vibrations wrack the remaining halves, causing smaller pieces to splinter off (SN: 11/12/05, p. 315...
Like a scouting handbook for the molecular realm, a new chart reveals how to tie molecules up in knots of increasing complexity.
Mathematicians have cataloged billions of distinct knot types, but researchers have been able to make only a few molecular versions. Scientists craft the minuscule knots using a solution filled with building blocks of curved strings of atoms, which glom onto...