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Rose madder, a natural plant dye once prized throughout the Old World to make fiery red textiles, might be cool once again. 

Chemists have developed a non-toxic and sustainable lithium-ion battery powered by purpurin, a dye extracted from the roots of the madder plant (Rubia species).

Over 3,500 years ago, civilizations in Asia and the Middle East first boiled madder roots to dye fabrics in orange, pink and red but the climbing herb might also lay the foundation for an eco-friendly alternative to traditional lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries in the 21st century.  Lithium-ion batteries are great for consumers but costs to the environment for production, recycling and disposal are high.

A gel similar to the amino acid that enables mussels to resist the power of churning water can be painted onto the walls of blood vessels and stay put, forming a protective barrier with potentially life-saving benefits. 

Mussels have a knack for clinging to rocks, piers and boat hulls and now have inspired a gel that
can withstand the flow of blood through arteries and veins. 

Sliman Bensmaia, PhD, assistant professor of organismal biology aat the University of Chicago, studies the neural basis of tactile perception -  how our hands convey this information to the brain. In a new study, he and colleagues found that the timing and frequency of vibrations produced in the skin when you run your hands along a surface, like searching a wall for a light switch, plays an important role in how we use our sense of touch to gather information about the objects and surfaces around us.

Want a microchip that operates 300 times the speed of chips today? Maybe some day.

Tiny, inexpensive silicon microchips developed by a pair of electrical engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) generate and radiate high-frequency electromagnetic waves, called terahertz (THz) waves, that fall into a largely untapped region of the electromagnetic spectrum—between microwaves and far-infrared radiation—and that can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays.

The little-understood protein osteocalcin plays a significant role in the strength of our bones, says a new paper,  and the findings could lead to new strategies for fighting osteoporosis and lowering the risk of bone fracture.

Who came up with that? Biologists?  Doctors? No, engineers.

From an evolutionary standpoint, homosexuality is a trait that should not develop and persist in the face of natural selection. Yet it exists in most cultures, among men and women. Analyses have noted that homosexuality can run in families, leading researchers to hypothesize a genetic underpinning of sexual preference but no gene or group of genes for homosexuality have been found, despite numerous studies searching for a genetic connection.