When Donald Griffin and Robert Galambos first reported that bats use the ricocheting echoes of sound waves to pilot through the environment, some scientists doubted it was possible. The team’s experiments, conducted in the late 1930s at Harvard University and reported in the early 1940s, coincided with World War II and the proliferation of active sonar systems for use on ships and submarines...
News in Brief
View the video
Meet the first fleet of hive-minded robots.
These robots can latch onto one another and link up their individual “nervous systems” — the network of connections between their computer processors, cameras, wheels and other gadgetry — to create a single-minded machine. The composite robots, reported online September 12 in Nature Communications, pave the way for a new...
In the Twitterverse, science can stir up some vigorous debates. And they’re not all about the standard issues of climate change, vaccines and evolution. Some dueling tweets involve the scientific enterprise itself.
For instance, one recent tweet proclaimed “Science isn’t ‘self-correcting.’ Science is broken,” linking to a commentary about the well-documented problem that many scientific...
Nuclear power go-ahead
West German power companies have decided to go ahead with two nuclear power station projects…. Compared with the U.S. and Britain, Germany has been relatively backward in the application of nuclear energy…. The slow German start is only partly the result of restrictions placed upon German nuclear research after the war. — Science News, September 16, 1967Update...
You’ve probably encountered at least one machine-learning algorithm today. These clever computer codes sort search engine results, weed spam e-mails from inboxes and optimize navigation routes in real time. People entrust these programs with increasingly complex — and sometimes life-changing — decisions, such as diagnosing diseases and predicting criminal activity.
A newfangled data storage device, which takes up less than a millionth the amount of space of its predecessors, could be a key component of futuristic communication systems.
Scientists fashioned a tiny crystal that stores snippets of quantum information — which unlike computer data “bits” that come only in 0s and 1s, can also exist as both 0 and 1 simultaneously. This crystal is the...
Waste makes haste
Getting rid of bodily wastes during long space flights is a problem…. A bizarre possible solution … involves whipping the wastes in with some other ingredients to produce the most unusual rocket fuel…. The four ingredients — carbon, ammonium, nitrate and aluminum — and the waste material are just blended together, and they’re ready to go…. [The material] would probably...
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The world’s smallest monster truck has a chemical curiosity under its hood.
Made out of a mere five molecules, the Ohio Bobcat Nanowagon checks in at 3.5 nanometers long and 2.5 wide — about the width of a DNA strand. Even so, it was the heftiest contender in the first-ever nanocar race earlier this year. This pip-squeak vehicle took home the bronze, but perhaps more...
Antennas just got a whole lot smaller.
Tiny chips that communicate via radio waves are a tenth to a hundredth the length of current state-of-the-art compact antennas. At only a couple hundred micrometers across — comparable to the thickness of a piece of paper — these next-gen antennas can relay the same types of signals as those used by TVs, cell phones and radios, researchers report...
News in Brief
A new type of soft robot can go under the knife and make a full recovery in about a day.
Researchers fashioned a robotic hand, gripper and muscle from self-healing rubbery material. To test their robots’ resilience, the engineers sliced each with a scalpel, then put them in an oven. After cranking up the heat to 80° Celsius, baking the bots for 40 minutes, then cooling them to room...