Sending a Rocket Through the Northern Lights

ICI-4 - a space weather mission. Illustration: Trond Abrahamsen, Andøya Space Center

ICI-4 – a space weather mission. Illustration: Trond Abrahamsen, Andøya Space Center

The combination of American electron clouds and Norwegian northern lights spells trouble for navigation and communication in the Northern regions. The ICI4 rocket will provide knowledge that can help us predict the weather in space.

Follow the scientists live-blogging the attempt to launch the rocket on facebook.com/ici4rocket and twitter: #ICI4 Read More →

Let’s Explore the World of Human Microbiomes

Human Microbiomes

The microbiome is a myriad community of microbes, classified genetically, living in and on the human body, whereas, ‘microbiota’ is a description of the organisms themselves. However, the terms were originally synonymous and are still sometimes used interchangeably. It is due to this genetic information that the microbiome is often referred to as ‘the second genome project’. Read More →

Are We Inside a ‘Galactic Transport System’?

Wormhole simulation - Credits Davide and Paolo Salucci.

Wormhole simulation – Credits Davide and Paolo Salucci.

In theory, the Milky Way could be a “galactic transport system”

Based on the latest evidence and theories our galaxy could be a huge wormhole (or space-time tunnel such as the one depicted in the recent film Interstellar) and, if that were true, it would be “stable and navigable”. This is the hypothesis put forward in a study published in Annals of Physics and conducted with the participation of SISSA in Trieste [citation below]. Read More →

Using Robots to Monitor Deep-Sea Ecosystems

Autosub6000 AUV

Autosub6000 AUV

Scientists at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) have used advanced photographic tools in an unmanned Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) to make major advancements in estimating deep-sea ecosystem diversity at ‘landscape’ scales. Read More →

Developmental Brain Plasticity in Humans

brain plasticity

Human development and plastic have little in common, yet they are both malleable. Developmental plasticity in humans refers to the ability to adapt to information, environmental or physical changes. When you learn new things, compensate for physical problems or speak a foreign language fluently, you are relying on your brain’s innate plasticity, which is most apparent during childhood. Read More →

First Steps for Hector the Robot Stick Insect

Elastic joints and six legs that function like those of a stick insect: Hector is the only walking robot of its kind in the whole world. Photo: Bielefeld University

Elastic joints and six legs that function like those of a stick insect: Hector is the only walking robot of its kind in the whole world. Photo: Bielefeld University

A research team at Bielefeld University has succeeded in teaching the only robot of its kind in the world how to walk. Its first steps have been recorded in a video (see below). The robot is called Hector, and its construction is modelled on a stick insect. Inspired by the insect, Hector has passive elastic joints and an ultralight exoskeleton. What makes it unique is that it is also equipped with a great number of sensors and it functions according to a biologically inspired decentralized reactive control concept: the Walknet. Read More →

Using Robotics in Food Production Processes

This is the team behind the robot "Gribbot ", who has a special eye for chicken. From the left: Elling Ruud Øye, Ekrem Misimi and Aleksander Eilertsen at SINTEF. Photo: TYD/SINTEF

This is the team behind the robot “Gribbot “, who has a special eye for chicken. From the left: Elling Ruud Øye, Ekrem Misimi and Aleksander Eilertsen at SINTEF. Photo: TYD/SINTEF

Can an industrial robot succeed both at removing the breast fillet from a chicken, and at the same time get more out of the raw materials? This is one of the questions to which researchers working on the CYCLE project now have the answer. They have built a fully-functional robot in the lab to automate the process of extracting breast fillets from chickens. This is a task normally performed by skilled human hands. Read More →

Identifying the Principal Protein Sensor for Touch

Sense of Touch Research

A team led by biologists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has solved a long-standing mystery in neuroscience by identifying the “mechanoreceptor” protein that mediates the sense of touch in mammals. Mice that lack the Piezo2 ion-channel protein in their skin cells and nerve endings lose nearly all their sensitivity to ordinary light touch, but retain a mostly normal sensitivity to painful mechanical stimuli. Read More →

Did Life Originate in the Earth’s Crust?

Early Earth

This, at least, is what the geologist Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schreiber and the physico-chemist Prof. Dr. Christian Mayer of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany are convinced of. “It is the first model on the origin of life which includes a complete process leading from inorganic chemistry to a protocell where the problems of molecule formation, local concentration, driving force and membrane formation are being solved simultaneously” Prof. Mayer from the faculty of Chemistry says. Read More →

Novel Approach to Sex Ed

14_ART_STUDENT_WORK

Sexual Education is a divisive issue which is brought into focus each year as children face a new curriculum, but a university student has set out her own approach to the problem by turning her master’s project into a social commentary on sexuality. Read More →