Our editors round up for 26th August Top 10 STEM News:
Research confirms that sitting in traffic is officially bad for you
Drivers have been urged to close windows and turn off fans while in traffic jams to avoid breathing in dangerously high levels of air pollution. Latest research from the University of Surrey has shown that simple adjustment to your car’s ventilation system while sitting in traffic jams can greatly affect your exposure to toxic fumes by up to 76%.
Evidence of changes to children’s brain rhythms following ‘brain training’
New research questions the strong claims that have been made about the benefits of ‘brain training’ – enhanced mental skills, a boost to education, improved clinical outcomes and sharper everyday functioning. This new study found evidence that ‘brain training’ changed brain signalling but no indication of other benefits.
An effective and low-cost solution for storing solar energy
How can we store solar energy for period when the sun doesn’t shine? One solution is to convert it into hydrogen through water electrolysis. The idea is to use the electrical current produced by a solar panel to ‘split’ water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Clean hydrogen can then be stored away for future use to produce electricity on demand, or even as a fuel.
No batteries required: The first autonomous, entirely soft robot
A team of Harvard University researchers with expertise in 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. This small, 3D-printed robot—nicknamed the octobot—could pave the way for a new generation of completely soft, autonomous machines.
An Earth-like planet has been found in our closest star system
European Southern Observatory (ESO) officials have finally confirmed that they have discovered a new exoplanet candidate named Proxima b inside the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri – a red dwarf star in our closest neighbouring star system, Alpha Centauri.
This is gigantic news, because it means an Earth-like planet could lie just 4.2 light-years away from us, and has the potential to support life. Further research is needed to confirm the characteristics of its atmosphere and the possibility of liquid water on its surface, but the team already has plans on how to get us there.
This is how cancer spreads through the bloodstream
In what could be a major step forward in our understanding of how cancer moves around the body, researchers have observed the spread of cancer cells from the initial tumour to the bloodstream.
The findings suggest that secondary growths called metastases ‘punch’ their way through the walls of small blood vessels by targeting a molecule known as Death Receptor 6 (no, really, that’s what it’s called). This then sets off a self-destruct process in the blood vessels, allowing the cancer to spread.
Battery you can swallow could enable future ingestible medical devices
Non-toxic, edible batteries could one day power ingestible devices for diagnosing and treating disease. One team reports new progress toward that goal with their batteries made with melanin pigments, naturally found in the skin, hair and eyes.
Scientists use ultrasound to jump-start a man’s brain after coma
A 25-year-old man recovering from a coma has made remarkable progress following a treatment to jump-start his brain using ultrasounds, scientists report. This is the first time such an approach to severe brain injury has been tried.
Despite physical ailments, older adults are happier
While even the best wines eventually peak and turn to vinegar, a new study suggests a paradoxical trend in the mental health of aging adults: they seem to consistently get better over time.
Plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric CO2
Plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric CO2 according to a new study.The research provides insight into the long-term impacts of rising CO2 and the implications for global food security and nature conservation.