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A self-healing aircraft could be available in the near future, thanks to an epoxy resin developed by Bristol University aerospace engineers that ‘bleeds’ from embedded vessels near the holes or cracks and quickly seals them up, restoring structural integrity.

As well as the obvious safety benefits, this breakthrough could make it possible to design lighter aeroplanes in the future. This would lead to fuel savings, cutting costs for airlines and passengers and reducing carbon emissions too.

By mixing dye into the resin, any ‘self-mends’ could be made to show as colored patches that could easily be pinpointed during subsequent ground inspections, and a full repair carried out if necessary. The dye mixed with the resin would be ultra-violet fluorescent and so would not show up in normal lighting conditions.

ESA has today opened applications for talented individuals wishing to become an astronaut in the European Astronaut Corps. There has not been a selection campaign since 1992, so this is a rare opportunity to be at the forefront of ESA’s human spaceflight programmes including future missions to the ISS, the Moon and beyond.

Applicants will be asked to enter some personal information and contact details, and to upload a private-pilot medical examination certificate, from an Aviation Medical Examiner who has been certified by their national Aviation Medical Authority; or alternatively the ESA Medical Statement, approved by a physician (see also specific requirements). Then within 24 hours the candidate will receive login details to fill in a detailed application form.


Since the 1980’s Dr. Joseph M. Prospero, professor of Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, has pioneered studies in the worldwide measurement of aerosols, fine particles suspended in the atmosphere and carried by winds.

His team’s work focuses on the aerosol chemistry of the marine atmosphere. They are particularly interested in the long-range transport of pollutants from the continents to the oceans and their impact on climate and on biogeochemical processes in ocean waters.

Starting in 1980 Prospero established a network of island stations in the North and South Pacific Oceans. These stations made continuous measurements of the concentration of major aerosol species that play a role in climate: mineral dust, nitrate, sulfate, and sea salt. The network was eventually extended to the Indian Ocean and Antarctica. Throughout the 80’s and into the late 90’s the UM team maintained a total of 30 stations in constant operation in all ocean regions. The data obtained are unique and they have played a critical role in the development and testing of the global chemical transport models used in the recent climate assessment carried out by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Molecular and statistical genetic studies in 15 Finnish families have shown that there is a substantial genetic component in musical aptitude.

Musical aptitude was determined using three tests: a test for auditory structuring ability (Karma Music test), and the Seashore pitch and time discrimination subtests. The study represents the first systematic molecular genetic study that aims in the identification of candidate genes associated with musical aptitude.

The identified regions contain genes affecting cell extension and migration during neural development. Interestingly, an overlapping region previously associated with genetic locus for dyslexia was found raising a question about common evolutionary background of music and language faculties. The results show that musical aptitude is likely to be regulated by several predisposing genes/variants.

Engineers and applied physicists from Harvard University have demonstrated the first room-temperature electrically-pumped semiconductor source of coherent Terahertz (THz) radiation, also known as T-rays. The breakthrough in laser technology, based upon commercially available nanotechnology, has the potential to become a standard Terahertz source to support applications ranging from security screening to chemical sensing.

Spearheaded by research associate Mikhail Belkin and Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering, both of Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the findings will be published in the May 19 issue of Applied Physics Letters. The researchers have also filed for U.S. patents covering the novel device.

Using lasers in the Terahertz spectral range, which covers wavelengths from 30 to 300å, has long presented a major hurdle to engineers. In particular, making electrically pumped room-temperature and thermoelectrically-cooled Terahertz semiconductor lasers has been a major challenge. These devices require cryogenic cooling, greatly limiting their use in everyday applications.


A new report from Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has found a strong link between childhood ear infections and exposure to tobacco smoke.

The families of 100 Aboriginal children and 180 non-Aboriginal children participated in the Kalgoorlie Otitis Media Research Project, allowing the collection of social, demographic, environmental and biological data to investigate the causes of otitis media (middle ear infections). The children had regular ear examinations from birth until 2 years of age.

Chief Investigator Dr Deborah Lehmann, who heads the Institute’s infectious diseases research, said ear infections were the most common reason that young children see a doctor and can cause life-long problems.