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The Lead

Sensor Gives Robot Greater Dexterity

September 22, 2014 | by MIT, Larry Hardesty | Comments

Researchers have equipped a robot with a novel tactile sensor that lets it grasp a USB cable draped freely over a hook and insert it into a USB port. The sensor is small enough to fit on a robot’s gripper and its processing algorithm is fast, so it can give the robot feedback in real time.


Dogs Can Be Pessimists

September 19, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Sydney | Comments

Dogs generally seem to be cheerful, happy-go-lucky characters, so you might expect that they would have an optimistic outlook on life. But, some dogs are distinctly more pessimistic than others.


Materials Mimic Octopuses’ Abilities

September 18, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, David Chandler | Comments

Cephalopods are able to change both the color and texture of their skin within seconds to blend into their surroundings— a capability that engineers have long struggled to duplicate in synthetic materials. Now, a team has come closer than ever to achieving that goal, creating a flexible material that can change its color or fluorescence and its texture at the same time, on demand, by remote control.


Microscope Study Helps Cook Juicier Steaks

September 17, 2014 7:00 am | by The Univ. of Melbourne | Comments

A new study into meat tenderness could refine the way people cook steak. Researchers conducted studies using microscopes to see what happens to meat cells while being cooked. They found that meat shrinks while cooking not once but twice.


Chemistry of a Smartphone

September 17, 2014 7:00 am | by ACS | Comments

By now, we've got all the details about Apple's latest iPhone. But what do you really know about the guts of the iPhone 6, or any smartphone for that matter?


Cheetah Robot Can Run, Jump, Untethered, Across Grass

September 16, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | Comments

Researchers have developed an algorithm for bounding that they’ve successfully implemented in a robotic cheetah— a sleek, four-legged assemblage of gears, batteries and electric motors that weighs about as much as its feline counterpart. The team recently took the robot for a test run where it bounded across grass at a steady clip.


Wrinkles in Rock May Be Signs of Early Life

September 15, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | Comments

Researchers have identified a mechanism by which wrinkles may have formed in ancient rocks. Based on this mechanism, they posit that such fossilized features may be a vestige of microbial presence— in other words, where there are wrinkles, there must have been life.


Understanding Physics of Fire Imperative for Space Safety

September 12, 2014 7:00 am | by NASA | Comments

Astronauts are studying how fires burn in microgravity and how to put them out. It's a basic safety issue: if a fire ever breaks out onboard a spacecraft, astronauts need to be able to control it.


Sharks May Not Smell Food in Acidic Water

September 11, 2014 7:00 am | by Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

The increasing acidification of ocean waters caused by rising atmospheric CO2 levels could rob sharks of their ability to sense the smell of food, a new study suggests. Elevated CO2 levels impaired the odor-tracking behavior of the smooth dogfish, a shark whose range includes the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern U.S.


Algorithm Can Help Clean up Space

September 10, 2014 2:00 pm | by MIT, Larry Hardesty | Comments

An algorithm, tested aboard the International Space Station, analyzes the rotation of objects in space. Understanding how objects are spinning, where their centers of mass are and how their mass is distributed is crucial to any number of actual or potential space missions, from cleaning up debris in the geosynchronous orbit favored by communications satellites to landing a demolition crew on a comet.


Chemistry Provides Life Hacks

September 10, 2014 7:00 am | by ACS | Comments

Chemistry Life Hacks are tips that can change your life, or at least the temperature of your beer.


Bees’ Bacteria May Replace Antibiotics

September 9, 2014 7:00 am | by Lund Univ. | Comments

Raw honey has been used against infections for millennia. So what is the key to its’ antimicrobial properties? Researchers have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey, from the honey stomach of bees. The bacteria produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds.


Material Changes Color as Glucose Levels Fluctuate

September 8, 2014 10:10 am | by Michelle Taylor and Jon Dipierro, Advantage Business Media | Comments

This month's LabChat covers: a color-changing glucose monitor; the genomic sequencing of more than 99 Ebola virus genomes; and a computational approach to plant adaptation capabilities.                                     


Researchers Work to Reduce Jet Engine Noise

September 8, 2014 7:00 am | by EPFL | Comments

Unless one is attending an aeronautics convention or going on a trip, noise associated with aircraft engines is rarely tolerable. Now, different means of significantly reducing that noise are being tested in the lab.


NASA Examines Four Decades of Sea Ice Changes

September 5, 2014 7:00 am | by Goddard Space Flight Center | Comments

The sea ice cap that covers the Arctic Ocean has been changing dramatically. Its ice is thinner and more vulnerable– at summer minimum it now covers more than 1 million fewer square miles than in the late 1970s. A key part of the story of how the world was able to witness and document this change centers on meticulous work over decades by a small group of scientists at NASA.


Cockatoos Learn Carpentry from Each Other

September 4, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Oxford | Comments

Goffin's cockatoos can learn how to make and use wooden tools from each other, a new study has found. The discovery is thought to be the first controlled experimental evidence for the social transmission of tool use in any bird species.



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