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May 16 2015

NASA thinks a robotic eel might be the key to exploring Europa


We've seen the submarine that NASA wants to explore Saturn's moon Titan with, but compared to what the aeronautics outfit's looking at for icy climes like Jupiter's Europa it's downright pedestrian. The wormy-looking contraption up above is actually considered a type of amphibious rover and it's pretty different from the Deep-SCINI we've seen previously. Because there aren't exactly electrical outlets anywhere aside from Earth and relying on solar power might not always be feasible, it has to use alternative means for energy.

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May 16 2015

This inflatable aircraft could explore the skies of Venus


An inflatable, propeller-powered aircraft, built from lightweight composites, could be a candidate to explore the dense, sulphur-rich skies around Venus on a multi-year mission.

US-based aerospace and defence firm, Northrop Grumman, is developing the concept craft, and plans to enter NASA's fourth New Frontiers planetary science competition, which will begin accepting submissions from international teams in October.

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May 16 2015

Octopus-Inspired Robotic Arms Can Multitask During Surgery


A robotic arm inspired by octopus tentacles could make it easier for surgeons to access hard-to-reach parts of the body.

A new robotic device uses a series of inflatable chambers to mimic how an octopus can twist, elongate and bend its limbs in any direction. The mechanical arm also imitates the way an octopus can change the stiffness of different sections of its tentacles, allowing the cephalopods to interact with objects.

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May 16 2015

Up like a lead balloon! Bristol students defy idioms with physics once more


The team of Bristol students who proved that a chocolate teapot could be useful have been at the sayings book again by creating a lead balloon that doesn’t go down.

Challenged by BBC’s The One Show and TV production company Icon films, the group of engineering and design academics took a leaf out of Japanese culture’s papery book to fold a 1.6 cubic metre airship from what is the one of the highest density materials used in construction.


Related: A metal composite that will (literally) float your boat

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May 16 2015

Bid for bandages to enter the electronic age: Electrical stimulation promotes healing


Skin wounds that are slow to heal are a clinical challenge to physicians all over the world. Every year, the NHS alone spends £1 billion on treating chronic wounds such as lower limb venous and diabetic ulcers. Wounds become chronic when they fail to heal and remain open for longer than six weeks.

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May 16 2015

We’re happy and we know it, and now the research shows it


If you have a spring in your step and a smile on your face, you're in good company. Americans are generally a pretty happy bunch, according to a new study that aims to further our collective understanding of happiness and its root causes. With age comes happiness. Beginning with 30- to 34-year-olds, every age group gets progressively happier than the general population, peaking among those aged 65 and older.

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May 16 2015

Geneticists clock genetic differences between 'larks' and 'owls'


A new study by geneticists from the University of Leicester has for the first time identified the genetic clues behind what makes you a 'lark' or an 'owl'.

Based on analysis of a fruit fly, the scientists have discovered nearly 80 genes associated with 'morningness' and 'eveningness'.

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May 16 2015

Cranky Parrots? Weird Island Animals Described in Long-Lost Report


The dodo bird was not the only wacky animal inhabitant of the island of Mauritius: Bad-tempered parrots, wart-faced pigeons and several other now-extinct but noteworthy indigenous animals called this land home, new research suggests.

Historians had previously identified the animals that lived on the island before Dutch settlers arrived in the 17th century, but the details about these creatures had remained largely unknown.

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May 16 2015

Hyena society is founded on friendship


Hyenas long ago mastered one of the keys to Facebook success: becoming the friend of a friend. The most common large carnivore in Africa, spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta), are known for their socially sophisticated behaviors. They live in large, stable clans (as pictured above), which can include as many as 100 individuals. They can tell clan members apart, discriminating among their maternal and paternal kin.

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May 16 2015

The Rise Of The Incredible Edible Insect


Start-ups are marketing an unlikely new protein. It’s nutrient-rich, all natural, and six-legged.

During the last weeks of winter, in an airy kitchen at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, two design students are making cocktail bitters.


Related: Beekeepers see 42% of US honeybee colonies die off in a single year

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May 15 2015

Study reveals fruit flies exhibit the building blocks of emotion


A fruit fly starts buzzing around food at a picnic, so you wave your hand over the insect and shoo it away. But when the insect flees the scene, is it doing so because it is actually afraid? Using fruit flies to study the basic components of emotion, a new Caltech study reports that a fly's response to a shadowy overhead stimulus might be analogous to a negative emotional state such as fear—a finding that could one day help us understand the neural circuitry involved in human emotion.

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May 15 2015

New research reveals first warm-blooded fish


New research by NOAA Fisheries has revealed the opah, or moonfish, as the first fully warm-blooded fish that circulates heated blood throughout its body much like mammals and birds, giving it a competitive advantage in the cold ocean depths.

The silvery fish, roughly the size of a large automobile tire, is known from oceans around the world and dwells hundreds of feet beneath the surface in chilly, dimly lit waters. It swims by rapidly flapping its large, red pectoral fins like wings through the water.

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May 15 2015

Why Would A Fish Make Its Own Sunscreen?


Creatures that venture out into the daylight can be damaged by the sun's ultraviolet rays. Humans produce melanin, a dark pigment, to help protect our skin. And now many of us slather on sunscreen, too.

Bacteria, algae and fungi make their own chemicals that sop up UV rays. And there's one called gadusol that's been found in fish and their eggs.

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May 15 2015

Our attention span is now less than that of a goldfish, Microsoft study finds


Humans have become so obsessed with portable devices and overwhelmed by content that we now have attention spans shorter than that of the previously jokingly juxtaposed goldfish.

Microsoft surveyed 2,000 people and used electroencephalograms (EEGs) to monitor the brain activity of another 112 in the study, which sought to determine the impact that pocket-sized devices and the increased availability of digital media and information have had on our daily lives.

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May 15 2015

The mind-bending effects of foreign accent syndrome


A little-known condition causes people to adopt a new accent – and lose a part of their identity in the process, finds David Robson.

Julie Matthias’s family have a game they sometimes like to play after she comes home, disappointed, from another doctor’s appointment. During dinner, they pick a foreign accent, and challenge each other to speak in the strange voice.

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May 15 2015

Mediterranean Diet May Be Good for Your Brain


Eating a Mediterranean diet that is rich in nuts and olive oil may help delay cognitive decline in older adults, according to a new study.

In the study, researchers randomly chose about 300 people to follow a Mediterranean diet for four years, and asked 145 people to eat a low-fat diet for the same period. Following a Mediterranean diet means consuming many vegetables and fruits, and eating some seafood, while eating only a little meat and dairy.


Related: 30 Minutes of Daily Exercise Helps Men Live Longer

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May 15 2015

To make smokers healthy, it helps to make them wealthy, study finds


Would the promise of an $800 payout motivate you to quit smoking? And if so, what’s the most effective way to dangle that reward?

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania sought to answer those questions, with help from more than 2,500 smokers who either worked for CVS Caremark or were their family members or friends.


Related: Brains of smokers who quit successfully might be wired for success

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