Muscle-Powered Bio-Bots:

At about 1mm in length these tiny organic machines are powered by cells, notably heart cells in the first gif (in 2012). Although scientists figured out how to control the rate of movement by electric pulses and using muscles cells.

"The bots are designed to mimic the muscle-bone-tendon complex found in the body."

They may perhaps be used for environmental clean-up though I suspect the more likely scenario of being used inside us. An I-bot milkshake to say, clean up the o’l arteries? Nice.


Slime mold: It’s smarter than you think

This gooey, gelatinous amoeba might look pretty gross, but it’s changing the way we think of intelligence. Despite not having a brain, this slime can solve mazes, make healthy food choices and carefully navigate its environment. Amazingly, the 600 million-year-old organism has developed systems to remember, anticipate and make decisions without any central intelligence system.

More on the eukaryotic microorganism »


This aquarium may look pretty, but much of what you see is toxic. Many sea creatures use chemical defenses to deter predators. Still others, such as anemones and snails, use poison to capture their prey. Thousands of marine invertebrate toxins could provide a rich source of potential medicines to treat problems from pain to Parkinson’s disease. 

Learn more about how poison is being used for good. 


Meet 18-year-old Petra Grutzik, whose award-winning research with UCLA neuroscientists is just the beginning.

Grutzik is from Manhattan Beach, Calif., and recently was recognized at the 2014 intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her research on a protein called FOXP2 and its link to speech disorders.

FOXP2 is found in both human brains and songbird brains. Songbirds learn to sing through social interaction the way humans learn to talk, and FOXP2 is expressed similarly in both.

With the help of mentor professors from uclaneuroscience, Grutzik conducted research over two years to determine how various levels of this protein affects the quality of communication through speech. 

“When a baby is first born, they cry,” Grutzik explains. “Finches learn how to sing, like we learn how to talk. FOXP2 is involved in speech development in humans and in songbirds. Scientists study FOXP2 in songbirds so they can learn more about it in humans.”

“It is the only single gene that, when mutated, results in a human speech and language disorder,” says UCLA’s Dr. Stephanie White.

“We have excellent undergrads at UCLA,” says Dr. Nancy Day, Grutzik’s mentor at UCLA. “But there’s something special about Petra. We saw it as an excellent opportunity to embrace this eager young woman so that we could not only challenge her but she could challenge us. Petra has infused an energy into the lab that we didn’t have before.”

Grutzik also tapped into her background in robotics to design and build a cage for the finches that was long enough and had two separate chambers in which she could conduct her testing on the birds.  

Read more at our site and watch aljazeeraamerica on Saturday 7:30PM ET/4:30PM PT. 

(via ucresearch)


To harvest silk from a Golden Orb Weaver (Nephila edulis), the Oxford Silk Group sedates a spider with carbon dioxide gas and pins it down harmlessly. A technician extracts silk from the spinnerets with tweezers and glues the thread to a motorized spool. Once fired up, the motor can draw out  30-80 meters of silk in one session.

In case you’re worried, the spider is fine afterward. Read more at the source.


Researchers have developed a detailed picture of one of the complex molecular machines inside the nucleus of our cells.

A University of Wisconsin-Madison team of biochemists revealed the workings of a complex of five proteins called the spliceosome. This complex works together to edit out unneeded pieces of genetic code in RNA before it is used as a blueprint to produce proteins. 

To see how the spliceosome assembly works, they grew crystals of a part of it called U6. Among their findings is the complexity of the interactions between subunits of the complex, including one element that dives through a loop in another. 

Read More

Meet another kind of dinosaur

When you think of dinosaurs, you might think of those found in the movie Jurassic Park, but there were many other prehistoric animals that are still around today. And some lived even before dinosaurs first appeared: dragonflies and damselflies!

Damselflies (suborder Zygoptera) are insects in the order Odonata. Damselflies are similar to dragonflies, but the adults can be distinguished by the fact that the wings of most damselflies are held along, and parallel to, the body when at rest. Furthermore, the hindwing of the damselfly is essentially similar to the forewing, while the hindwing of the dragonfly broadens near the base. Damselflies are also usually smaller than dragonflies and weaker fliers in comparison, and their eyes are separated.

Although, the Damselfly is talented enough to tuck their wings onto their back, they are not skilled enough to be able to walk.  That’s right, this particular insect has no problem landing but they are incapable of walking due to the position of their legs.

Watch the video

(via finding-things-out)

The Green Heron (Butorides virescens) is a small heron of North and Central America. The Green Heron lurks near the edge of the water and feeds on fish most of the time.  What makes the Green Heron unique is his tool-using fishing method. The heron will use bait to lure the fish close enough for him to strike. Bait such as twigs, insects, feathers, earthworms, even  cigarette buds are dropped into the water, where the Green Heron waits patiently and motionless for his catch. This skill is even more intriguing when you realize that not all Green Heron actually hunt this way; the species has a wide geographic distribution, but bait-fishing only pops up in a few places.

(Source: finding-things-out)


SpaceX Restartable Thrusters Pass Early Tests

SpaceX completed qualification testing for its SuperDraco thruster late last month. The engine will eventually be mounted on the manned version of the Dragon spacecraft as part of its launch escape system. It will also help the vehicle touch down on its return to Earth or on whatever other planet it visits.

SpaceX says the engine produces 16,000 pounds of thrust and can be fired multiple times. In an emergency, eight SuperDracos built into the Dragon will provide 120,000 pounds of thrust to propel the crew a safe distance from the rest of the vehicle.

The thruster’s engine chamber is made through the industrial 3-D printing process called direct laser metal sintering. It is composed of Inconel, a strong nickel-chromium superalloy able to withstand high temperatures. 

Read More


Zoom Into a Microchip

It is absolutely crazy how tiny we can make things today.

What we’re seeing here is a standard microchip, older though in principle the same as modern cell phone chip.

At the micro level we’re dealing with this comparison:

"A micron is 1 millionth of a meter, 10-6 or 10-3 of a millimeter. Very tiny. It is abbreviated with the greek letter for M, or the mu."

It takes 100,000 Microns to equal about 4 inches and toward the end of the set we’re in the 1 micron range.

(via coolsciencegifs)


A storm just before turning into a tornado. 
[Click for more interesting science facts and gifs]

All tornadoes are spawned from a parent supercell, but not all supercells (pictured above) produce tornadoes. Just saying.
xysciences, please credit the photographer, Marko Korosec.


A storm just before turning into a tornado. 

[Click for more interesting science facts and gifs]

All tornadoes are spawned from a parent supercell, but not all supercells (pictured above) produce tornadoes. Just saying.

xysciences, please credit the photographer, Marko Korosec.

(Source: xyprogramming)

Surface tension lies behind these beautiful interactions between liquid droplets.



 Hypergolic Ignition of Various Compounds with Nitric Acid shows the ignition of powdered solid borane compounds with a drop of concentrated nitric acid. Reaction is completed within 10 ms of contact. The green color indicates the presence of boron.

See the original movie in glorious slow motion.

Credit: Stephen Heister, Timothee Pourpoint, Steven Son, Mark Pfeil, Jacob Dennis, and P. V. Ramachandran of Purdue University, via the Central States Section of the Combustion Institute


Green Fire!

Making green fire involves mixing borax with ethanol and setting it alight in a pyrex/borosilicate vessel (normal glass will just crack and shatter from the heat).

The Science:

This is just like a great big flame test. When boron compounds are heated, electrons absorb a certain amount of heat energy that causes them to jump to higher energy levels. After some time, the electrons lose this energy and fall back down to their original levels, emitting this energy in the form of light. Because the energy absorbed by electrons is different per element, each element will give a different colour. Boron gives a bright green colour. Any other colours such as orange and yellow are probably due to impurities in the mixture such as carbon.