Technology

  • Whale sharks: boat strikes in protected areas could be harming the animals’ development
    Whale sharks are the ocean's biggest fish. jjsupasit srisawthsak/shutterstock.com The biggest fish in the ocean, whale sharks, are incredible animals. They can reach lengths of over 18 metres and weigh more than 19,000kg. Each shark has a unique pattern of spots on its body, like a fingerprint. The number of whale sharks in our oceans…
  • Dinosaurs may have ‘flashed’ each other with their bottoms, newly discovered fossil shows
    Dinosaur fossils have always amazed with their horns and spikes, enchanting us with elongated necks and foot-long teeth. But less attention has been paid to the dinosaur derriere – for reasons of taste, maybe, but also because it’s difficult to find a well-preserved bottom in the fossil record of our Mesozoic friends. But a chance…
  • Spitting cobras may have evolved unique venom to defend from ancient humans
    Spitting cobras use their venom for defence. Stu Porter/shutterstock.com Cobras are fascinating and frightening creatures. These snakes are most well known for their characteristic defence mechanism called hooding, when the sides of their neck flare out in a dramatic display. However, hooding isn’t the only defensive behaviour in a cobra’s arsenal. Some species of cobra…
  • Cognitive decline due to ageing can be reversed in mice – here’s what the new study means for humans
    Memory declines with age. Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock The ageing global population is the greatest challenge faced by 21st-century healthcare systems. Even COVID-19 is, in a sense, a disease of ageing. The risk of death from the virus roughly doubles for every nine years of life, a pattern that is almost identical to a host of other…
  • When football clubs are less successful, fans are more loyal to each other
    Fans of less successful clubs form more of a bond with each other. Motortion Films/shutterstock.com Football fans tend to be highly loyal to their group, just as the kin groups of our ancestral past would have been. This intense state of belonging, when a person feels as one with their group, is called identity fusion.…
  • A controllable dual-catapult system inspired by the biomechanics of the dragonfly larvaes predatory strike
    The biomechanics underlying the predatory strike of dragonfly larvae is not yet understood. Dragonfly larvae are aquatic ambush predators, capturing their prey with a strongly modified extensible mouthpart. The current theory of hydraulic pressure being the driving force of the predatory strike can be refuted by our manipulation experiments and reinterpretation of former studies. Here,…
  • The strike of the dragonfly larvae
    The predatory strike of dragonfly larvae can inspire the design of fast robotic movement with enhanced control and precision. Source: Science Mag: The strike of the dragonfly larvae
  • A resonant squid-inspired robot unlocks biological propulsive efficiency
    Elasticity has been linked to the remarkable propulsive efficiency of pulse-jet animals such as the squid and jellyfish, but reports that quantify the underlying dynamics or demonstrate its application in robotic systems are rare. This work identifies the pulse-jet propulsion mode used by these animals as a coupled mass-spring-mass oscillator, enabling the design of a…
  • How could robotics help establish a new norm after COVID-19?
    In a time of upheaval, robotics has an opportunity to offer long-term solutions and radical change. Source: Science Mag: How could robotics help establish a new norm after COVID-19?
  • Squid-inspired robots perform swimmingly
    A squid-like robot leverages resonance to match the swimming efficiency of biological animals. Source: Science Mag: Squid-inspired robots perform swimmingly
  • Holographic history is making ‘Night at the Museum’ a reality
    elRoce/Shutterstock For millions of children, being dragged to a museum is a singularly painful experience, marked by time standing still rather than history coming to life – as it does in the film “Night at the Museum”, starring Ben Stiller. But that all could change with the development of new “mixed reality” (MR) technology, which…
  • ‘Male’ vs ‘female’ brains: having a mix of both is common and offers big advantages – new research
    How androgynous are you? Thomas Piercy, University of Cambridge., Author provided From advertising to the workplace, it is often assumed that men and women are fundamentally different – from Mars and Venus, respectively. Of course, we all know people who are more androgynous, having a mix of personality traits that are stereotypically considered to be…
  • Starfish: rare fossil helps answer the mystery of how they evolved arms
    Starfish are one of the most recognisable animals on our planet. Yellowj/shutterstock.com A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and palaeontology: how starfish evolved their arms. Starfish are one of the most recognisable animals on our planet. Most people…
  • Hospitals are near their limits – computer models can help keep their doors open
    The UK has fewer critical care beds per capita than the European average. Gorodenkoff/shutterstock.com Coronavirus is causing a strain on health services around the world. Just last week, over 80% of critical care beds in England were full, with warnings of hospitals hitting their limits in the coming days. Because of the fast moving and…
  • COVID-19 misinformation: scientists create a ‘psychological vaccine’ to protect against fake news
    Alexander Limbach/Shutterstock Anti-vaccination groups are projected to dominate social media in the next decade if left unchallenged. To counter their viral misinformation at a time when COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out, our research team has produced a “psychological vaccine” that helps people detect and resist the lies and hoaxes they encounter online. The World…
  • We need hard science, not software, to power our post-pandemic recovery
    Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock Ten years ago, PayPal founder Peter Thiel condensed the growing sense of disappointment in new technologies down to just nine words. “We wanted flying cars,” he wrote, “instead we got 140 characters”. That these words still ring true a decade later shows just how far short of expectations new technologies have fallen. To drive…
  • Are the brains of atheists different to those of religious people? Scientists are trying to find out
    Do atheists think differently? patrice6000/Shutterstock The cognitive study of religion has recently reached a new, unknown land: the minds of unbelievers. Do atheists think differently from religious people? Is there something special about how their brains work? To illustrate what they’ve found, I will focus on three key snapshots. The first one, from 2003, is…
  • Bold visual warnings are needed to stop people clicking on fake news
    Shutterstock/dencg A senior doctor in charge of the NHS anti-disinformation campaign has said that language and cultural barriers could be causing people from ethnic minorities to reject the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr Harpreet Sood told the BBC it was “a big concern” and officials were working hard to reach different groups “to correct so much fake…
  • How anti-vax memes replicate through satire and irony
    Don/KnowYourMeme For most of us, memes are the harmless fodder of an “extremely online” internet culture, floating benignly between different social media platforms — and, on the whole, making us laugh. But in the shadier corners of the internet, like on the forum 4chan, memes can quickly mutate from jokes into more ambiguous, shocking and…
  • Hepatitis D: how the virus made the jump from animals to humans
    Vampire bats, a commonly deltavirus-infected host, feed on the blood of other mammals. Belizar/Shutterstock Pandemics past and present have been caused when pathogens – germs that cause disease – move between animals and humans, as SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) did when it made its way from bats to people. But not all emerging…
  • Digital hoarders: we’ve identified four types – which are you?
    rawf8/Shutterstock How many emails are in your inbox? If the answer is thousands, or if you often struggle to find a file on your computer among its cluttered hard drive, then you might be classed as a digital hoarder. In the physical world, hoarding disorder has been recognised as a distinct psychiatric condition among people…
  • Synced brains: how to bond with your kids – according to neuroscience
    Coordinated brains. Jacob Lund/Shutterstock Many people across the world are still living under tough restrictions or lockdowns because of the pandemic, staying home as much as possible. This means that a lot of parents are spending more time than ever with their children. But how do you turn that time into a deeper relationship? New…
  • Astronauts are experts in isolation, here’s what they can teach us 
    Earth from the ISS. NASA, CC BY Being forced into isolation and confinement creates a number of potentially stressful demands. However, we might be able to learn a thing or two about coping with these demands, from people who choose a life in such settings. Despite the glorified image of being an astronaut, isolation and…
  • Mutant roots reveal how we can grow crops in damaged soils
    Lidiane Miotto/Shutterstock For years, conventional wisdom has held that roots don’t grow as deep in hard soil because it’s just too difficult for them to physically push through it. But our new research has unearthed another reason: their growth is controlled by a biological signal which can be “switched off”, enabling them to punch through…