Technology

  • Antimatter: scientists find way to trap elusive material by blasting it with lasers
    Cern scientists have successfully cooled antimatter with a laser for the first time. Chukman So, Author provided Antimatter is believed to play a huge part in the story of our universe. It’s the counterpart to matter: identical in every way – with protons, neutrons and electrons – but with an opposite electric charge. According to…
  • A Jane Austen quote encoded in plastic molecules demonstrates the potential for a new kind of data storage
    Shutterstock/spainter_vfx The words “if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another” were originally published in 1814 in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. At the time, the words were printed using revolutionary steam-powered printers that could roll through over a thousand sheets of paper an hour. Since the early 2000s, it’s been possible to…
  • First human-monkey embryos created – a small step towards a huge ethical problem
    We believe monkeys to have lower moral status than humans – but what about human-monkey chimeras? Joao Paulo Porto/Shutterstock Scientists have created the world’s first monkey embryos containing human cells in an attempt to investigate how the two types of cell develop alongside each other. The embryos, which were derived from a macaque and then…
  • Dead Sea Scrolls: two scribes probably wrote one of the manuscripts
    Shutterstock/Lerner Vadim Ever since the Dead Sea Scrolls were accidentally discovered over 70 years ago in a cave in Israel, they have been a source of fascination. The scrolls are famous for containing the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible. But exactly who wrote these important documents has been a mystery. Now, thanks to the…
  • Underwater maneuvering of robotic sheets through buoyancy-mediated active flutter
    Falling leaves flutter from side to side due to passive and intrinsic fluid-body coupling. Exploiting the dynamics of passive fluttering could lead to fresh perspectives for the locomotion and manipulation of thin, planar objects in fluid environments. Here, we show that the time-varying density distribution within a thin, planar body effectively elicits minimal momentum control…
  • Biohybrid soft robots with self-stimulating skeletons
    Bioinspired hybrid soft robots that combine living and synthetic components are an emerging field in the development of advanced actuators and other robotic platforms (i.e., swimmers, crawlers, and walkers). The integration of biological components offers unique characteristics that artificial materials cannot precisely replicate, such as adaptability and response to external stimuli. Here, we present a…
  • Cavatappi artificial muscles from drawing, twisting, and coiling polymer tubes
    Compliant, biomimetic actuation technologies that are both efficient and powerful are necessary for robotic systems that may one day interact, augment, and potentially integrate with humans. To this end, we introduce a fluid-driven muscle-like actuator fabricated from inexpensive polymer tubes. The actuation results from a specific processing of the tubes. First, the tubes are drawn,…
  • EU is cracking down on AI, but leaves a loophole for mass surveillance
    Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock The EU looks set to ban some of the most concerning forms of artificial intelligence (AI), such as the “social credit” surveillance system used in China, according to draft AI regulations published by the bloc. The proposed regulations, which will be reviewed by elected representatives before passing into law, will also bring some…
  • Deep-sea volcanic eruptions create megaplumes that may have dispersed early life
    An area on the summit of the West Mata Volcano erupting in 2009. NOAA / NSF / WHOI The ocean floor is famously unexplored and is imaged in much less detail than the surfaces of Mars, the Moon and Venus. Draining the water from the oceans would reveal a vast and mostly unknown volcanic landscape.…
  • The St Vincent eruption is a reminder of how volcano research and monitoring can save lives
    Volcanic eruptions come with a variety of hazards, depending on the type of volcano and its magma. Some have effusive eruptions, where lava flows constantly, while others can expel large clouds of fragments of magma and gases – volcanic ash – into the atmosphere. For some of the most powerful eruptions, these ash clouds can…
  • Electric cars could make the roads safer – here’s how
    Shutterstock/mikolajn Electric cars have the potential to help in our fight against climate disaster. For example, if all cars in the UK were electric, the country’s emissions would drop by 12%. But electric cars might also be able to address another issue that’s affecting people around the world. Traffic-related fatalities are the eighth leading cause…
  • Mars: how Ingenuity helicopter made the first flight on another planet
    NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter hovers over the Martian surface. NASA Imagine that you are flying a model helicopter or a drone. You are there with the auto controls. You switch them on. The rotors start to turn, gradually increasing their spin. You watch, then push the control for lift. Your helicopter rises, hovers, then at…
  • Prehistoric cave painters might have been ‘high’ on oxygen deprivation – new study
    Prehistoric hand paintings at the Cave of Hands in Argentina, thought to be over 10,000 years old R.M. Nunes/Shutterstock Long before the emergence of writing, palaeolithic cave paintings represent the very first examples of human visual culture. They provide a shadowy glimpse of a prehistoric world in which signs were beginning to be used to…
  • Prince Philip’s funeral hearse is a modified Land Rover Defender – symbolic of a pioneering, practical Britain
    The Land Rover Defender is one of the world's most iconic vehicles – as much for its functionality as its style. Michael J P/Shutterstock The ceremonial funeral of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will take place on Saturday April 17 in the chapel at Windsor Castle. But in a break from ceremony – a…
  • Why your social media habit is probably not an addiction – new research
    Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com Social media apps are useful sources of information. They help us catch up with the activities of friends, news, current affairs, government COVID updates and the latest happenings in celebrity and sport. But during the pandemic, you may have felt you spend too much time on social media. On occasion you may have seen…
  • Dinosaurs: how our understanding of what they looked like keeps changing
    Microraptor: fossils show it had feathers on each limb. Michael Rosskothen via Shutterstock This is a transcript of episode 11 of The Conversation Weekly podcast Dinosaurs: from giant reptiles to warm-blooded, feathered creatures, how our understanding of what they looked like has changed. In this episode, how new discoveries have changed our understanding of what…
  • Tiny beetle fossil reveals how insects greeted Earth’s earliest flowers
    The world as we know it today is almost inconceivable without the rich and colourful landscapes created by plant life. Among them are flowering plants, or angiosperms, which are by far the most diverse and abundant group of plants, making up over 80% of all known species, including all our staple food crops. But the…
  • AI is increasingly being used to identify emotions – here’s what’s at stake
    AI can be biased. aslysun/Shutterstock Imagine you are in a job interview. As you answer the recruiter’s questions, an artificial intelligence (AI) system scans your face, scoring you for nervousness, empathy and dependability. It may sound like science fiction, but these systems are increasingly used, often without people’s knowledge or consent. Emotion recognition technology (ERT)…
  • Social media ‘likes’ change the way we feel about our memories – new research
    In it for the likes. Shutterstock/13_Phunkod Memories are often considered very personal and private. Yet, in the past few years, people have got used to notifications from social media or phone galleries telling them they have a “memory”. These repackaged versions of the past affect not just what we remember but also the attachments we…
  • Dinosaurs: from giant reptiles to warm-blooded, feathered creatures, how our understanding of what they looked like has changed – podcast
    Kulindadromeus: more evidence is emerging of feathered dinosaurs. Nobu Tamura via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA In this episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast, we look at how new discoveries are changing our understanding of what dinosaurs looked like and are helping to shed light on bigger questions about evolution. And after Israel’s fourth election in…
  • Climbing robots in a sticky situation
    Mussel-inspired electro-responsive adhesive hydrogels enable robot climbing on conductive surfaces. Source: Science Mag: Climbing robots in a sticky situation
  • Electrically programmable adhesive hydrogels for climbing robots
    Although there have been notable advances in adhesive materials, the ability to program attaching and detaching behavior in these materials remains a challenge. Here, we report a borate ester polymer hydrogel that can rapidly switch between adhesive and nonadhesive states in response to a mild electrical stimulus (voltages between 3.0 and 4.5 V). This behavior…
  • Self-propelled hydrogels that glide on water
    Active hydrogels with dynamic wettability move spontaneously on the surface of water like a common water strider. Source: Science Mag: Self-propelled hydrogels that glide on water
  • Self-powered locomotion of a hydrogel water strider
    Hydrogels are an exciting class of materials for new and emerging robotics. For example, actuators based on hydrogels have impressive deformability and responsiveness. Studies into hydrogels with autonomous locomotive abilities, however, are limited. Existing hydrogels achieve locomotion through the application of cyclical stimuli or chemical modifications. Here, we report the fabrication of active hydrogels with…