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  • News

    High-tech ‘skins’ turn everyday objects into robots

    A new type of soft robot gets its power from the skin it’s in.

    Robotic skin that bends, stretches and contracts can wrap around inanimate objects like stuffed animals, foam tubes or balloons to create flexible, lightweight robots. Removable, reusable sheets of this artificial skin, described online September 19 in Science Robotics, could also be used to build grippers or wearable devices...

    09/19/2018 - 14:00 Materials, Robotics, Technology
  • For Daily Use

    A sensor inspired by an African thumb piano could root out bogus medicines

    Identifying faulty drugs or diagnosing kidney problems could one day be as simple as playing an instrument and analyzing the sound.

    An inexpensive, handheld tool inspired by an ancient African instrument called an mbira, or thumb piano, can distinguish between liquids of different densities, researchers report online September 12 in ACS Omega. That could help pharmacists and consumers...

    09/18/2018 - 11:10 Technology, Health
  • News in Brief

    This flying robot could reveal secrets of the aerial world of insects

    A new winged robot helps explain why airborne insects are so doggone hard to swat.

    Scientists have wondered how these tiny pilots pull off such rapid twists and turns, but researchers haven’t been able to test all their ideas by monitoring real insects or using tethered robots. Now, a free-flying, insect-inspired robot, described in the Sept. 14 Science, gives researchers an alternative...

    09/13/2018 - 14:00 Robotics, Animals
  • News

    Here’s how graphene could make future electronics superfast

    Graphene just added another badge to its supermaterial sash.

    New experiments show that this single layer of carbon atoms can transform electronic signals at gigahertz frequencies into higher-frequency terahertz signals — which can shuttle up to 1,000 times as much information per second.

    Electromagnetic waves in the terahertz range are notoriously difficult to create, and...

    09/11/2018 - 12:00 Materials, Technology
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Accessory to War’ probes the uneasy alliance between space science and the military

    Accessory to WarNeil deGrasse Tyson and Avis LangW.W. Norton & Co., $30

    Late-night comedians skewered Vice President Mike Pence in August when he announced preliminary plans for a new branch of the U.S. military dubbed the “Space Force.” Jimmy Kimmel likened the idea to a Michael Bay action movie, while Jimmy Fallon quipped that the Space Force’s chain of command would go “E.T...

    09/04/2018 - 10:00 Astronomy, Technology, History of Science, Science & Society
  • News

    The strength of gravity has been measured to new precision

    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,...

    08/29/2018 - 13:00 Physics, Technology
  • News

    Electrons surf protons’ waves in a new kind of particle accelerator

    Particle accelerator technology has crested a new wave.

    For the first time, scientists have shown that electrons can gain energy by surfing waves kicked up by protons shot through plasma. In the future, the technique might help produce electron beams at higher energies than currently possible, in order to investigate the inner workings of subatomic particles.  

    Standard particle...

    08/29/2018 - 13:00 Particle Physics, Technology
  • News

    Quantum computer simulates two types of bizarre materials

    Scientists have used a quantum computer to conduct large-scale simulations of two types of quantum materials. These studies involved about 2,000 quantum bits, or qubits — many more than the tens of qubits available in most quantum computers.

    The results, published in two recent studies in Science and Nature, provide a new realization of the vision of physicist Richard Feynman, who hoped...

    08/28/2018 - 11:00 Quantum Physics, Technology
  • News

    Lithium-oxygen batteries are getting an energy boost

    A new type of lithium-oxygen battery could pack more energy and last longer than its predecessors.

    Lithium-oxygen batteries, which are more energy-dense and made of more sustainable materials than typical lithium-ion cells, are promising candidates for the next generation of rechargeable batteries (SN: 1/21/17, p. 22). But lithium-oxygen batteries aren’t widely used yet because they die...

    08/23/2018 - 14:00 Chemistry, Technology
  • News

    Ghostly antineutrinos could help ferret out nuclear tests

    Rogue nations that want to hide nuclear weapons tests may one day be thwarted by antineutrinos.

    Atomic blasts emit immense numbers of the lightweight subatomic particles, which can travel long distances through the Earth. In general, the particles — the antimatter twins of neutrinos — are notoriously difficult to spot. But a large antineutrino detector located within a few hundred...

    08/20/2018 - 07:00 Particle Physics, Technology