Barbara McClintock Quote of the week

If you know you are on the right track, if you have this inner knowledge, then nobody can turn you off... no matter what they say.

— Barbara McClintock

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This week in science - Issue 62

This week in science

Eyes tune in ears tune out, early exposure to antibiotics has setbacks, super waterproofing spray.

  1. This year at the European Respiratory Society International Congress researchers presented their finding after analysing over 30 different studies with over 400,000 patients.

    Their findings suggest that the use of antibiotics in early life increases the risk of developing hay fever and/or eczema, particularly those that were treated with more than one course of antibiotics.

  2. When eyes are busy, ears tune out

    New research from Linköping University has shown that when we are concentrating on something, the brain reduces hearing to make it easier to concentrate.

    Jerker Rönnberg, professor of psychology at Linköping University said: “The brain is really clever, and helps us to concentrate on what we need to do. At the same time, it screens out distractions that are extraneous to the task. But the brain can’t cope with too many tasks: only one sense at a time can perform at its peak. This is why it’s not a good idea to talk on the phone while driving.”

  3. Super waterproofing

    A team of engineers from the Australian National University have developed a revolutionary spray-on waterproofing solution.

    The protective nano-coating is made up of a combination of two plastics, one that is touch and the other flexible. They form an interwoven mesh that is water repellant, transparent and extremely resistant to ultraviolet radiation.

This week in science - Issue 61

This week in science

Far away solar objects, Oldest fossil found, Carbon nanotubes gaining on silicon.

  1. Search for 9th Planet reveals extremely distant objects

    Back in January the possibility of a 9th planet was announced and since then everyone has been looking for it, this has led to the discovery of several extremely distant solar system objects.

    Sciences believe that the newly discovered objects will help in the hunt for the 9th planet, but also help to improve out understanding of the solar system.

    Scott Sheppard, Carnegie Institution for Science, has said that “The smaller objects can lead us to the much bigger planet we think exists out there. The more we discover, the better we will be able to understand what is going on in the outer Solar System.”

  2. 3.7 billion-year-old fossil found in Greenland

    A team of researchers from the University of Wollongong, Australia have unearthed the oldest fossil in a remote area of Greenland.

    The fossil is a 3.7 billion-year-old stromatolite, the discovery has pushed back the fossil record nearly to the beginning of geological records, indicating that life on Earth formed very early on.

  3. Carbon nanotubes catch up to silicon

    Material engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created carbon nanotube transistors that outperform silicon transistors.

    Carbon nanotubes have to potential to open a world of high-performance, high-efficiency electronics, longer battery life, faster wireless communications and faster processing speeds. However, this was nothing more than a dream for the last 20 years.

    The team’s carbon nanotube transistors achieved current that is 1.9 times higher than state of the art transistors.

Aristotle Quote of the week

My view is that if your philosophy is not unsettled daily then you are blind to all the universe has to offer.

— Aristotle

Posted on quotes

Aristotle Quote of the week

My view is that if your philosophy is not unsettled daily then you are blind to all the universe has to offer.

— Aristotle

Posted on quotes

This week in science - Issue 60

This week in science

Dark Milky Way, Octobots assemble!, Neighbouring Earth like planet, The Greater Great Barrier Reef.

  1. Dark Milky Way

    An international team of astronomers has found a galaxy, Dragonfly 44, that consists almost entirely of dark matter.

    While this is not the first time a dark matter galaxy has been found, it is one of the biggest at 1 trillion times the mass of our Sun, Dragonfly 44 is roughly the same size as our Milky Way.

    “Ultimately what we really want to learn is what dark matter is. The race is on to find massive dark galaxies that are even closer to us than Dragonfly 44, so we can look for feeble signals that may reveal a dark matter particle,” said Yale University astronomer Pieter van Dokkum, lead author of a paper in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

  2. Octobot: first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot

    A team of researchers from Harvard University has created a proof of concept for an autonomous soft robot, which is the first of its kind.

    In the past, such robots were tethered to a rigid structure that contained elements such as the battery.

    “The entire system is simple to fabricate, by combining three fabrication methods – soft lithography, molding and 3D printing – we can quickly manufacture these devices,” said Ryan Truby, a graduate student in the Lewis lab and co-first author of the paper.

    The team hopes to build on this research to design and develop more complex soft robots.

  3. Our nearest neighbour has an Earth-like planet

    Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star that is just four light-years from the Solar System.

    Astronomers have now found clear evidence of an Earth-like planet orbiting the star in the habitable zone. The planet orbits the star much closer than Mercury does to the Sun, however as the star is much fainter than our Sun, it is still well within the habitable zone.

    The planet orbits the star every 11 days and has temperatures that are suitable for liquid water.

    This discovery is the beginning of extensive further observations using both current and future instruments as it is the prime candidate for light elsewhere in the Universe.

  4. The Greater Gret Barrier Reef

    Scientists have known about the existence of geological structures in the Great Barrier Reef since the 1970s and 80s, but the true nature remained elusive until recently.

    High-resolution seafloor data was provided by an LiDAR-equipped aircraft which has allowed for over 6,000 square kilometres of reef to be mapped, this is three times larger than what was expected.

    The new data has revealed unusual donut-shaped mounds spanning as much as 300 meters across and as much as 10 metres deep.