News in Brief
View the video
A new squishy robot could keep hearts from skipping a beat.
A silicone sleeve slipped over pigs’ hearts helped pump blood when the hearts failed, researchers report January 18 in Science Translational Medicine. If the sleeve works in humans, it could potentially keep weak hearts pumping, and buy time for patients waiting for a transplant.
To make the device...
View the video
Zoom in on a soap bubble just before it bursts and brilliant, complex patterns emerge. Shimmery rainbows appear in thicker portions of the soap film, while clusters of dark spots appear in the thinnest regions.
The thickness of the soap film determines the color seen. Light rays that reflect off of the top and bottom of the film combine to amplify particular...
Look at any map of the Atlantic Ocean, and you might feel the urge to slide South America and Africa together. The two continents just beg to nestle next to each other, with Brazil’s bulge locking into West Africa’s dimple. That visible clue, along with several others, prompted Alfred Wegener to propose over a century ago that the continents had once been joined in a single enormous landmass....
Everybody wants more power from their batteries. Smartphones and laptops always need recharging. Electric car drivers must carefully plan their routes to avoid being stranded far from a charging station. Anyone who struggles with a tangle of chargers every night would prefer a battery that can last for weeks or months.
For researchers who specialize in batteries, though, the drive for a...
Reviews & Previews
Time TravelJames GleickPantheon, $26.95
It’s kind of daring to write a science book about something that — you must remind your readers — doesn’t exist. That’s James Gleick’s task in Time Travel, an engaging and entertaining look at science that will always remain fiction.
It’s lucidly written, a breeze to read and erudite in assessing a vast range of literary and popular media...
Reviews & Previews
Furry LogicMatin Durrani and Liz KalaugherBloomsbury, $27
Warning: Furry Logic is not, as the title might suggest, a detailed exploration of mammals’ reasoning skills. Instead, it’s a fun, informative chronicle of how myriad animals take advantage of the laws of physics.
Science writers Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher cite a trove of recent (and often surprising) research findings...
Tricking some bug into drowning takes finesse, especially for a hungry meat eater with no brain, eyes or moving parts. Yet California pitcher plants are very good at it.
Growing where deposits of the mineral serpentine would kill most other plants, Darlingtonia californica survives in low-nutrient soil by being “very meat dependent,” says David Armitage of the University of Notre Dame in...
50 Years Ago
Tenth moon of Saturn
The first natural satellite in the solar system to be discovered since artificial satellites were launched has been found circling Saturn. Dr. Audouin Dollfus of the Observatory of Physical Astronomy at Meudon, France, spotted Saturn’s tenth satellite on three photographs taken in mid-December when the planet’s rings were seen edge-on from earth. — Science News,...
What Were They Thinking?
New research is stirring the pot about an ancient Egyptian burial practice.
Many ancient peoples, including Egyptians, buried some of their dead in ceramic pots or urns. Researchers have long thought these pot burials, which often recycled containers used for domestic purposes, were a common, make-do burial for poor children.
But at least in ancient Egypt, the practice was not...
These findings would have rocked the scientific world, if only the evidence had been more convincing.New Planet 9 clues
A giant planet lurking at the outskirts of the solar system could explain the odd orbits of far-flung hunks of icy debris (SN: 2/20/16, p. 6). If the planet exists, its average distance from the sun would be between 500 and 600 times Earth’s distance (SN: 7/23/16, p. 7...