Liquid metal brings soft robotics a step closer

Scientists have invented a way to morph liquid metal into physical shapes.

Original release University of Sussex
Author James Hakner

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Self-healing materials inspired by plants

Scientists at EPFL’s Laboratory for Processing of Advanced Composites (LPAC) and the University of Freiburg’s Botanical Garden have studied how the flax plant heals itself after it has been wounded. As part of a cross-disciplinary EU research project, they measured changes in the plant’s mechanical properties, like stiffness and damping, and examined the plant’s self-repair mechanisms. Because natural fibers are being increasingly used to make composite materials, understanding how such mechanisms work can help scientists develop self-healing materials with better performance, drawing on methods inspired by nature. The research was recently published in PLOS ONE. _EPFL

Deep waters spiral upward around Antarctica

Through observations and modeling, scientists have long known that large, deep currents in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans flow southward, converging on Antarctica. After entering the Southern Ocean they overturn — bringing water up from the deeper ocean — before moving back northward at the surface. This overturning completes the global circulation loop, which is important for the oceanic uptake of carbon and heat, the resupply of nutrients for use in biological production, as well as the understanding of how ice shelves melt._Lauren Hinkel | Oceans at MIT 

Twin glacier collapse in Tibet

Giant ice avalanches caused by catastrophic glacier failures are rare events. The collapse of two neighbouring glaciers within two months – as just witnessed in Tibet – was never seen before. The timely analysis of satellite images enabled scientists to issue a warning prior to the second collapse._ ETH Zurich

Vigilin, the lock keeper

ETH researchers have discovered a molecule in liver cells that controls the release of fat into the bloodstream. This “lock keeper” is present in large quantities in overweight people and leads indirectly to vascular narrowing._ ETH Zurich

Protein-like structures from the primordial soup

Experiments performed by ETH scientists have shown that it is remarkably easy for protein-like, two-dimensional structures – amyloids – to form from basic building blocks. This discovery supports the researchers’ hypothesis that primal life could have evolved from amyloids such as these. _Fabio Bergamin ETH Zurich

Will we ever stop using fossil fuels?

In recent years, proponents of clean energy have taken heart in the falling prices of solar and wind power, hoping they will drive an energy revolution. But a new study co-authored by an MIT professor suggests otherwise: Technology-driven cost reductions in fossil fuels will lead us to continue using all the oil, gas, and coal we can, unless governments pass new taxes on carbon emissions. __MIT News