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STEM News-19th Mar

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Clear to Opaque windows with a flick of a switch

Researchers have developed a technique that can quickly change the opacity of a window, turning it cloudy, clear or somewhere in between with the flick of a switch

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Researchers turn carbon dioxide into sustainable concrete

A team of interdisciplinary researchers at UCLA has been working on a unique solution that may help eliminate the emission of greenhouse gases in the production of concrete. Their plan would be to create a closed-loop process: capturing carbon from power plant smokestacks and using it to create a new —CO2NCRETE—that would be fabricated using 3D printers. That’s “upcycling.”

“What this technology does is take something that we have viewed as a nuisance—carbon dioxide that’s emitted from smokestacks—and turn it into something valuable,” said J.R. DeShazo, professor of public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.

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Hurdles in path of an African Einstein

The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) has an ambition that is bound to win hearts and minds with its simple optimism. The forum, a group of scientists, policymakers and business representatives, wants a leader in the field of science to emerge from Africa with the kind of far-reaching impact that Albert Einstein had.

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Bee flower choices altered by exposure to pesticides

Low levels of pesticides can impact the foraging behaviour of bumblebees on wildflowers, changing their floral preferences and hindering their ability to learn the skills needed to extract nectar and pollen.

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The state of Africa’s scientific research and development industry

AS Africa’s scientific community descended on the first-of-a-kind Next Einstein Forum we dug up a few images from UNESCO’s atlas of “Research and Experimental Development” on the context and state of Africa’s science and technology research in comparison to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately there are big data gaps which mean that a comprehensive overview is not possible, but nonetheless, they give us a brief and compelling glimpse of the industry.

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A strange pattern hiding in prime numbers

Mathematicians are pretty obsessed with prime numbers – those elusive integers that can only be divided by one and themselves. If they’re not creating cool artworks with them or finding them in nature, they’re using computers to discover increasingly larger primes.

But now a group of researchers has found a strange property of primes that’s never been seen before, and it violates one of the fundamental assumptions about how they behave – the idea that, for the most part, they occur totally randomly across integers.

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First prosthesis in the world with direct connection to bone, nerves and muscles

Thanks to the electrodes system a stable signal is obtained, which allows precise control like handling an egg without breaking. It also provides sensations as if it were a real hand.

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Edible insects inch one step closer

Farming insects on a large scale is no more of a biological or chemical hazard than other livestock farming, says a report by a European food safety body.

The report, which looks at the potential of insects as food or animal feed, says the microbiological, chemical and environmental risks of insect farming are similar to those of other animal husbandry.

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Scientists have grown ‘dinosaur legs’ on a chicken

Until very recently, one of the biggest myths in science was that all dinosaurs have been extinct for the past 65 million years. But thanks to new fossil discoveries that filled in our knowledge about avian dinosaurs, we now know that only some dinosaurs went extinct following an asteroid collision with Earth – others survived and gave rise to the birds we live with today.

To figure out how this evolution occurred, researchers in Chile have manipulated the genes of regular chickens so they develop tubular, dinosaur-like fibulas on their lower legs – one of the two long, spine-like bones you’ll find in a drumstick.

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Bacteria-powered microrobots navigate with help from new algorithm

Engineers have recently published research on a method for using electric fields to help tiny bio-robots propelled by flagellated bacteria navigate around obstacles in a fluid environment. These microrobots could one day be used for building microscopic devices or even delivering medication at the cellular level.

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A painless patch that can control diabetes without injections

Scientists have been struggling for decades to free diabetics from regular insulin injections. One of the main goals has been to figure out how to transplant healthy beta cells – the insulin-producing cells that fail as a result of diabetes – into patients, but this is an invasive procedure in itself that comes with the risk of rejection.

Now researchers have come up with a simpler option – they’ve created a synthetic patch that’s covered in natural beta cells, which can be stuck painlessly to a patient’s skin to secrete insulin when it’s required and safely control blood sugar levels, no injection or monitoring required.

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