cubbi (cubbi) wrote,
cubbi
cubbi

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May 2012 in science: from mind-controlled robots to coffee spilling

Continuing my delayed science news reviews, let's see what happened back in May, besides the flight of the Dragon capsule.


Olympicene was designed and created
(see also
wikipedia)

Mind-control interface for the quadruplegics made news - they can control robotic arms now.

The article that suggests that wavefunctions are reality, which I mentioned earlier when it hit the news in November, was finally published.

We learned that two positively charged metal balls attract each other, if they are sufficiently close.

Proof-of-concept nanoscale vaccum tubes were shown to work 10 times faster than the best transistors, and, of course, they are radiation resistant, like all vacuum tubes.

Gamma-ray lenses were created, opening a new field of optics (it was thought impossible to bend a gamma ray like that)

Another graphene-inspired material was made, silicene - a single layer of silicon (you'd think semiconductor researches would have done that earlier)

The old Mars rover found that organic matter has been produced on that planet for ages, with no help from life.

The Dawn spacecraft analyzed the asteroid Vesta and confirmed that it is indeed a protoplanet, with mantle and core and all.

Plutonium-239 was finally observed by NMR

The speed and direction of 15,000 stars in Andromeda galaxy were measured, and it's now definite that it will collide with our galaxy 4 billion years from now.

Undersea microbes were found in 86-million year old sediment that live so slow, it takes them thousands of years to go through a single metabolic turnover. This was far beyond anybody's idea of the lowest level of energy required to sustain life.

The molecular mechanism behind the effects of castor oil on both GI tract and the uterus was discovered.

Ink pigment survived in a 162-year old fossilized ink sac from a Jurassic cephalopod.

Some viruses are piezoelectric when crystallized, enough viral power was generated to run an LCD display .

A jellyfish in Baltic Sea lives and reproduces entirely at larval stage, never becoming adult.

A starfish that walks bilaterally was found (that is, on two legs).

The stone-throwing chimp (who, in 2010, sparked debates on whether he was showing planning and forethought when gathering and arranging the stones overnight to hurl at zoo visitors in the day) came up with a new trick - he now hides the stones close at hand so that the visitors can approach thinking he's empty-handed.

Blond hair evolved in humans twice: the second time was in the Solomon Islands, where 10% of population has blond afros, previously attributed to diet or european influence.

Old people smell exists (despite Penn and Teller's debunking), but is actually more pleasant than young people smell

Boosting the hypothesis that contageous yawning is an empathic social behavior, domestic dogs yawn when they hear humans yawn, if the humans are not strangers.

Dinosaur farts may have produced enough methane to heat up the world.

Math and physics of a pile of office staples was studied in detail. The optimal length-to-width ratio to delay collapse is 0.4.

Math and physics of the spilling coffee was studied as well. Turns out, cofee mug sizes just happen to resonate at the frequencies that match those of a person's leg movements during walking.
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