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Spider Webs Are Precision Dew Collectors

Photographs of dew drops on spider webs are favorite targets for nature photographers, because they resemble strings of pearls on fine jewelry (example 1, example 2).  But did you know the reason dewdrops bead up so well on webs is due to the fine microstructure of the spider silk?  A team of Chinese scientists studied […]

Universe Has a Run-Down Feeling

There’s 30 times more entropy in the universe than thought, according to Dr. Charley Lineweaver at the Australian National University.  PhysOrg said that Lineweaver and a PhD student Charles Egan measured the entropy of the universe.  It looks like it is feeling pretty run down.  “We considered all contributions to the entropy of the observable […]

Who in the Universe Makes Music?

A cosmologist and some musicians want to “sonify the universe” by making music out of stellar events like supernova explosions.  In an unusual article for a science media outlet, “Reaching for the Stars to Create Music of the Universe,” Science Daily reported that Nobel laureate George Smoot was inspired by the wishes of a Grateful […]

Incredible Creatures that Support Evolution?

Paleontologists and biologists continue to uncover animals past and present that exhibit amazing diversity.  Some of them are so weird and unexpected, they are almost unbelievable.  Usually, the news media are quick to tally up points for Darwin by explaining to lay people how they shed light on evolution.  But in the “discovery” stage of […]

Barefoot Is Better

Who do we wear shoes?  It seems obvious; we expect that they help us avoid injuries and provide comfort.  Maybe we should think of the injuries we are getting by wearing them.     The image of the barefoot person is usually of someone poor, deprived, lower-class, hick, unclean, redneck or something else unattractive.  Shoes […]

Fermi Paradox Reasserts Itself

Paul Davies, no stranger to facing difficult questions and proposing imaginative solutions, is coming out with a new book in April about SETI.  In it, he tackles the Fermi Paradox: if aliens are out there, why haven’t they dropped by yet?  Amazon.com lists some of the ideas to be presented in The Eerie Silence: Renewing […]

Molecular Machines Use Moving Parts

Research papers into the processes of molecular machines continue to reveal moving parts: “fingers” that open and close, ratchets that lock into place, and feet that move along tracks.  Here are a few samples from the voluminous literature that continues to pour from biophysics labs. DNA Polymerase I:  Scientific papers tend to be reserved in […]

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 […]
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