Science News for Students is an award-winning, free online magazine that reports on research and new developments across scientific disciplines for inquiring minds of every age from middle school on up.
Auto-focus eyeglasses rely on liquid lenses
University of Utah graduate student Nazmul Hasan is the first to admit that the glasses he helped design may not look cool. But what these prototypes lack in style, they make up for in smart design. An app will download one’s eyeglass prescription to the frames. From then on, the specs will focus on whatever the wearer looks at, such as a phone text. The frames send out light pulses that bounce off surfaces in front of them to calculate the distance. Tiny motors then bend the lenses, made of liquid glycerin, as much as the prescription calls for. Voila! The text will come into focus. — Stephen Ornes
Concerns explode over new teen risks from vaping
Students as young as 12 or 13 are now more likely to vape than smoke. Many assume that because e-cigarettes contain no tobacco, they pose little risk. Yet recent data show their vapors mess with wound healing. “Smoker’s cough” and bloody sores have been showing up in teens who vape. A new vaping behavior — dripping — threatens to intensify a teen’s risks. And data now suggest e-cigarette vapors can contain cancer-causing chemicals. Concludes Yale University’s Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, adolescents ignore such risks at their peril. — Lindsey Konkel
Cool Jobs: Reaching out to E.T. is a numbers game
Searching for aliens may sound like science fiction. Yet for many scientists, it has become serious business. In the second of a three-part series, we meet three researchers using math in their quest to find other living beings in our universe. One is calculating the likelihood of finding life on other planets. Another is trying to figure out where best to beam a “hello” to E.T. The third is looking for a common language with extraterrestrials — and it will probably be numbers. — Ilima Loomis