August 17, 2018

Week In STEM-14 Nov

Adaptive spider glue remains sticky come rain or shine

Scientists in the US may have untangled thereason why spiders’ webs remain sticky no matter how humid or arid their local environment is. A salt–protein mixture present in glue droplets along each thread may allow spiders to tune the stickiness of their webbing.

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Efficient shockwave-based process for desalination of water

As the availability of clean, potable water becomes an increasingly urgent issue in many parts of the world, researchers are searching for new ways to treat salty, brackish or contaminated water to make it usable. Now a team at MIT has come up with an innovative approach that, uses an electrically driven shockwave within a stream of flowing , which pushes salty water to one side of the flow and fresh water to the other, allowing easy separation of the two streams.

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New artificial material mimics photosynthesis to create clean energy source

It’s one of the holy grails of scientific research: discovering a way of replicating the natural process of photosynthesis, such that light could be easily converted into energy for other purposes, just like a plant does. And now researchers in the US have discovered an artificial material that lets them mimic this system to create a clean, sustainable source of power

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Google Maps gets offline search and directions

Google has upgraded its Android Maps app so it can provide directions when not connected to the internet. The software also lets devices find businesses’ locations, opening hours and telephone numbers while offline.

The firm said tourists visiting places outside their mobile subscription plans and people living in emerging markets, where data can be expensive, would be among those who would benefit most.

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New discovery changes what we know about how blood is made

Essentially, the new research suggests that blood is formed in fewer steps than previously believed: earlier evidence indicated stem cells went through several intermediate steps before becoming white or red adult cells, like branches coming out from a tree trunk. Dick and his team think the process is much quicker and simpler, though their findings have yet to be confirmed by independent researchers.

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First ‘porous liquid’ invented

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have made a major breakthrough by making a porous liquid – with the potential for a massive range of new technologies including ‘carbon capture’. The new  can dissolve unusually large amounts of gas, which are absorbed into the ‘‘ in the liquid.

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Motion of Pluto’s Moons Perplexes Scientists

he orbits of Pluto’s four smallest moons are even more chaotic than scientists had expected, according to new results from the New Horizons mission, which made a close flyby of Pluto in July.

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Automatic system spots micro-expressions

Humans have a tough enough time figuring out one another. We actually use two languages to communicate, through words and through facial expressions and sometimes they don’t match.

Now that we have made advances in machine learning and AI, how are software engineers doing in coming up with programs that can look at a face and tell what the person is feeling?

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A classic formula for pi has been discovered hidden in hydrogen atoms

For the first time, scientists have discovered a classic formula for pi in the world of quantum physics. Pi is the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter, and is incredibly important in pure mathematics, but now scientists have also found it “lurking” in the world of physics, when using quantum mechanics to compare the energy levels of a hydrogen atom.

Why is that exciting? Well, it reveals an incredibly special and previously unknown connection between quantum physics and maths.

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Experimental drug targeting Alzheimer’s disease shows anti-aging effects

Researchers have found that an experimental drug candidate aimed at combating Alzheimer’s disease has a host of unexpected anti-aging effects in animals. When mice were treated with the drug known as J147, they had better memory and cognition, healthier blood vessels in the brain and other improved physiological features.

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Blood-brain barrier opened non-invasively with focused ultrasound

The blood-brain barrier has been non-invasively opened in a patient for the first time. Scientists used focused ultrasound to enable temporary and targeted opening of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), allowing the more effective delivery of chemotherapy into a patient’s malignant brain tumor.

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Scientists unravel brain circuits involved in cravings

Researchers studying rats have discovered that activation of designer neural receptors can suppress cravings in a brain region involved in triggering those cravings. The study is the first to systematically show how designer brain receptors and designer drugs work together to change how cues for food stimulate motivation.

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Implantable wireless devices may block pain signals

Building on wireless technology that has the potential to interfere with pain, scientists have developed flexible, implantable devices that can activate — and, in theory, block — pain signals in the body and spinal cord before those signals reach the brain. The researchers say the implants one day may be used in different parts of the body to fight pain that doesn’t respond to other therapies.

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Thickness of grey matter predicts ability to recognize faces

The thickness of the cortex in a region of the brain that specializes in facial recognition can predict an individual’s ability to recognize faces and other objects.

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Diabetes drug reduces risk of heart failure and may prevent it

For the first time, research shows that a type 2 diabetes drug significantly reduces hospitalizations and death from heart failure. At the end of the trial period, investigators found that patients treated with the drug experienced reductions in blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as weight loss, compared to those on placebo. They also found major significant reductions in hospitalizations for heart failure (35%); the combined result for heart failure hospitalization or dying from heart disease (34%); and the combined result for being hospitalized or dying from heart failure (39%).

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