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Robot Designers Strive to Match Animals

Engineers feel great satisfaction when their robots can match just some of the feats of animals.  What does that say about the design of the animals? It’s a bird, it’s a plane:  The first “hummingbird robot” was unveiled by Japanese researcher Hiroshi Liu (Chiba University) in a press release published by PhysOrg.  The hand-sized device […]

Clever Animals Inspire Lookers – And Engineers

Incredible animals provide endless delights with their antics.  Even microorganisms are capable of amazing feats.  Sometimes these living things inspire inventors, too. Coconut octopus:  Tool use was supposed to be a late marker of primate intelligence as chimpanzees were evolving upward to manhood.  That’s so 1890.  Now that we know crows can use tools (05/26/2009), […]

Iapetus Mystery Moon Solved

Iapetus, that black-and-white moon orbiting Saturn that has mystified astronomers for 338 years, may finally be understood.  The dark material did come from outside – not inside.  The exogenic theory has won.  It’s been coated with dust from outer moons, but that’s not all: uneven heating has moved the ice around on the surface, accentuating […]

Galaxy-Spangled Banner Unfurled

The Hubble team has unveiled a new deep field image of distant galaxies, the “Hubble Ultra Deep Field Infrared WFC3/IR.”  The image, available at the HubbleSite, was taken with the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) installed during the latest servicing mission.     It’s been 5 years since the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (03/09/2004; […]

Microscopy’s Golden Age Is At Hand

Like test pilots breaking the sound barrier, microscope makers are breaking a light barrier some said was physically impossible: the diffraction limit.  Within the next 5 to 10 years, we may see more and more images of phenomena at the molecular scale – not with electron microscopes, but with light microscopes in real time.  What […]

Is the Universe Evolving Upward?

It’s intuitively obvious that to get from a big bang to intelligent astronomers looking for evidence of the bang through telescopes, the amount of organization in the universe must increase over time dramatically.  Lately, astronomy has uncovered much more dynamism in space than previously recognized – but much of it seems destructive, not creative. Orion […]

Materialists: What Do You Know?

For people who brag about their work, scientists are an odd lot.  At one moment they are touting science as the surest path to knowledge and understanding.  The next moment it seems like they are at square one.  This is particularly true of materialist cosmologies and Darwinian theories for the origin and development of life.  […]

Introducing the Maple-Copter

Plants are not as stationary as one might think.  Parts of them, like seeds, can travel for miles.  One good example is the maple seed.  Its little helicopter seeds can catch an updraft and fly a long distance from the tree.  Now, engineers at University of Maryland have imitated its physics and designed a radio-controlled […]

How to Copy a Butterfly Wing

Here’s what you have to do to copy a butterfly wing without destroying it: create compounds using Germanium, Selenium and Stibium.  Combine thermal evaporation and substrate rotation in a low pressure chamber.  Immerse in an aqueous orthophosphoric acid solution to dissolve the chitin.  If you are lucky, you can copy the delicate nanostructure of a […]

Giant Backward Ring Found Around Saturn

Saturn has a newly-discovered ring to add to its decor – the largest of all.  It’s so big, it makes Saturn look like a speck in the middle of it.  The ring, located at the orbit of the small outer moon Phoebe, is inclined 27 degrees and revolves backwards around Saturn.  This was announced today […]

Cosmology: Crossroads or Crosswinds?

Earlier this month in Science, Charles L. Bennett (Johns Hopkins) wrote a status report called “Cosmology at a Crossroads.”1  It included a brief survey of how cosmology got to its current paradigm and how future instruments should narrow down the unknowns.  The “standard model” as it has become known hangs together if one allows for […]

Molecular Machines on Parade

Scientific papers continue to exhibit the exquisite mechanisms in the cell for handling all kinds of situations, through the operation of molecular machines.  Here are a few recent examples from this week’s issue of Nature (Sept 3, 2009). Molecular sieve:  What happens when a cell gets bloated?  Too much water entering a cell can increase […]

What’s Up With the Planets?

Here are planets and moons making news in our celestial neighborhood, the solar system.  Maybe we’ll drop in on another neighborhood while we’re looking around. Venus resurfacing:  Planetary geologists can’t get away from the evidence that Venus underwent a planet-wide volcanic resurfacing epoch.  Crater counts and lava flow surveys leave little room for doubt that, […]

Cosmic Accounting Is Wildly Inaccurate

Counting faint celestial objects is admittedly hard, but the task should be within the capabilities of expert astronomers.  It is, after all, as simple as counting.  So much theoretical work relies on accurate counts of what’s out there, they need to get at least in the ballpark.  Recent indications hint that their counts have been […]

Are We at the Center of the Universe?

An alternative cosmology that doesn’t require dark energy may have the effect of putting the Milky Way near the center of the universe.  That’s not the only interpretation, but it is being considered.     Space.com reported on work by mathematicians at UC Davis who solved Einstein’s field equations without dark energy.  If the big […]
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