Sci/tech

NASA Sees Quick Development of Hurricane Dora
June 26, 2017 11:41 AM - National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The fourth tropical cyclone of the Eastern Pacific Ocean season formed on June 25 and by June 26 it was already a hurricane. NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite passed over Dora on June 25 when it was a tropical storm and the next day it became the first hurricane of the season.  

Tropical Depression Dora developed around 11 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 24 about 180 miles (290 km) south of Acapulco, Mexico. By 5 a.m. EDT on June 25, the depression had strengthened into a tropical storm and was named Dora.

Microplastics from the washing machine
June 26, 2017 11:32 AM - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)

The presence of microplastics in our wastewater can be attributed primarily to two factors. Firstly, many cosmetic products, such as toothpaste, creams, shower gels, and peelings, contain tiny pieces of plastic in order to achieve a mechanical cleaning effect. Secondly, microplastics are washed out in the process of washing polymer textile clothing, and thus they enter our environment via wastewater.

Many researchers who have recently studied nanoparticles are now also investigating microplastics. They include Bernd Nowack, Edgar Hernandez, and Denise Mitrano (who is now working at the water research institute Eawag) from Empa's "Technology and Society" department. On the basis of their nanoparticle research, these three researchers recently published a first quantitative investigation of the release of microfibers from polyester textiles during washing, in the specialist journal "Environmental Science and Technology". In this study, the Empa team primarily investigated the ways in which washing agents, water temperature, and the number and length of wash cycles affect the release of microfibers.

Moisture-Responsive 'Robots' Crawl with No External Power Source
June 26, 2017 10:59 AM - The Optical Society

Using an off-the-shelf camera flash, researchers turned an ordinary sheet of graphene oxide into a material that bends when exposed to moisture. They then used this material to make a spider-like crawler and claw robot that move in response to changing humidity without the need for any external power.

“The development of smart materials such as moisture-responsive graphene oxide is of great importance to automation and robotics,” said Yong-Lai Zhang of Jilin University, China, and leader of the research team. “Our very simple method for making typical graphene oxides smart is also extremely efficient. A sheet can be prepared within one second.”

Topsy-Turvy Motion Creates Light Switch Effect at Uranus
June 26, 2017 10:15 AM - Georgia Institute of Technology

More than 30 years after Voyager 2 sped past Uranus, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are using the spacecraft’s data to learn more about the icy planet. Their new study suggests that Uranus’ magnetosphere, the region defined by the planet’s magnetic field and the material trapped inside it, gets flipped on and off like a light switch every day as it rotates along with the planet. It’s “open” in one orientation, allowing solar wind to flow into the magnetosphere; it later closes, forming a shield against the solar wind and deflecting it away from the planet.

Topsy-Turvy Motion Creates Light Switch Effect at Uranus
June 26, 2017 10:15 AM - Georgia Institute of Technology

More than 30 years after Voyager 2 sped past Uranus, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are using the spacecraft’s data to learn more about the icy planet. Their new study suggests that Uranus’ magnetosphere, the region defined by the planet’s magnetic field and the material trapped inside it, gets flipped on and off like a light switch every day as it rotates along with the planet. It’s “open” in one orientation, allowing solar wind to flow into the magnetosphere; it later closes, forming a shield against the solar wind and deflecting it away from the planet.

Hot Cities Spell Bad News for Bees
June 26, 2017 10:11 AM - North Carolina State University

A new study from North Carolina State University finds that common wild bee species decline as urban temperatures increase.

“We looked at 15 of the most common bee species in southeastern cities and – through fieldwork and labwork – found that increasing temperatures in urban heat islands will have a negative effect on almost all of them,” says Steve Frank, an associate professor of entomology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work.

Lending plants a hand to survive drought
June 26, 2017 09:44 AM - Australian National University

A research team led by The Australian National University (ANU) has found a new way to help plants better survive drought by enhancing their natural ability to preserve water.

The findings have helped some plants survive 50 per cent longer in drought conditions, and could eventually benefit major crops such as barley, rice and wheat, which are crucial to world food supplies.

Lending plants a hand to survive drought
June 26, 2017 09:44 AM - Australian National University

A research team led by The Australian National University (ANU) has found a new way to help plants better survive drought by enhancing their natural ability to preserve water.

The findings have helped some plants survive 50 per cent longer in drought conditions, and could eventually benefit major crops such as barley, rice and wheat, which are crucial to world food supplies.

University of Toronto anthropologist Malcolm Ramsay asks: Why didn't the lemur cross the road?
June 26, 2017 08:34 AM - University of Toronto

Something to Google today: mouse lemurs.

They weigh only about 50g and have big brown eyes. You may think you’re looking at a very cute rodent. You’re not.

Research Accelerates Quest for Quicker, Longer-lasting Electronics
June 23, 2017 04:38 PM - University of California – Riverside

In the world of electronics, where the quest is always for smaller and faster units with infinite battery life, topological insulators (TI) have tantalizing potential.

In a paper published today in “Science Advances,” Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Riverside, and colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Arizona State University report they have created a TI film just 25 atoms thick that adheres to an insulating magnetic film, creating a “heterostructure.” This heterostructure makes TI surfaces magnetic at room temperatures and higher, to above 400 Kelvin or more than 720 degrees Fahrenheit.

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