Applied Physics

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Akron have created synthetic “gecko tape” with four times the sticking power of the real thing.

The researchers describe a process for making polymer surfaces covered with carbon nanotube hairs. The nanotubes imitate the thousands of microscopic hairs on a gecko’s footpad, which form weak bonds with whatever surface the creature touches, allowing it to “unstick” itself simply by shifting its foot.

For the first time, the team has developed a prototype flexible patch that can stick and unstick repeatedly with properties better than the natural gecko foot. They fashioned their material into an adhesive tape that can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, including Teflon.

Engineers at Purdue University are developing robots able to make "educated guesses" about what lies ahead as they traverse unfamiliar surroundings, reducing the amount of time it takes to successfully navigate those environments.

The method works by using a new software algorithm that enables a robot to create partial maps as it travels through an environment for the first time. The robot refers to this partial map to predict what lies ahead.

The more repetitive the environment, the more accurate the prediction and the easier it is for the robot to successfully navigate, said C.S.

If you have bad kids, it may not be your fault.

Well, it could still be your fault, because it's biology and genetics is part of biology, but you can't control genetics. At least you then you wouldn't have to feel guilty about being a lousy parent.

Either way there's a real effort on to blame everything except the actual delinquent kids and a new study in Psychological Science advances that cause. Rutgers University psychologist Daniel Hart and colleagues write that they can use a a Skin Conductance Response (SCR) test, along with some family history, to predict delinquency.

Although most Americans believe they know what brought down the World Trade Center twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, civil engineers are still seeking answers to questions that could save lives in the future.

Structural engineers need to know from a scientific perspective what happened to the buildings during the terrorist attacks in order to prevent future failures.

The search for answers continues with the help of a state-of-the-art animated visualization created by researchers at Purdue University.

Source: Purdue University

Buried beneath a sulfurous cauldron in European seas lies a class of microorganisms known as “extremophiles,” so named because of the extreme environmental conditions in which they live and thrive. Almost as radical, perhaps, is the idea that these organisms and their associated enzymes could somehow unlock the key to a new transportation economy based on a renewable biofuel, lignocellulosic ethanol.

They're called extremophiles for a reason. Courtesy: University of New South Wales

Using an ocean of data, sophisticated mathematical models and supercomputing resources, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are putting climate models to the test with particular focus on weather extremes.

Ultimately, the new methodology developed by Auroop Ganguly and colleagues could help determine to what extent there is a connection between human activity and climate change.

Want to play the ultimate version of The X-Men's "Wolverine" this Halloween? You'll need self-healing skin after those claws come out. Researchers at the University of Illinois are here to help. They have invented the next generation of self-healing materials, which mimics human skin by healing itself time after time. The new materials rely upon embedded, three-dimensional microvascular networks that emulate biological circulatory systems.

Now they just need to invent that Adamantium exo-skeleton. Copyright Marvel Comics Group

It may not sound like a great thing for your backyard festivities but scientists have figured out how to make the fruit fly live longer. Luckily, humans will get something out of the deal -namely the discovery that a single protein can inhibit aging means we might live longer to be annoyed by insects.

Not this Superfly. A super fruit fly. © Warner Bros.

Genetically modified (GM) crops may contribute to increased productivity in sustainable agriculture, according to a new study which analyzes, for the first time, environmental impact data from field experiments all over the world, involving corn and cotton plants with a Bt gene inserted for its insecticidal properties.

The research was conducted by scientists at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, The Nature Conservancy, and Santa Clara University. The study is accompanied by a searchable global database for agricultural and environmental scientists studying the effects of genetically engineered crops.

MIT researchers were recently able to light a 60W light bulb from a power source seven feet away; there was no physical connection between the source and the appliance.

The MIT team refers to its concept as “WiTricity” (as in wireless electricity). Various methods of transmitting power wirelessly have been known for centuries and perhaps the best known example is radio waves. While such that sort of electromagnetic radiation is excellent for wireless transmission of information, it is not feasible to use it for power transmission.

Wireless power transfer over two-meter distance, from the coil on the left to the coil on the right, where it powers a 60W light bulb.