This is not your typical loudspeaker. Researchers have unveiled a see-through speaker that conducts electricity, is elastic like skin and vibrates like Jell-O. The new device may one day show up in sound systems: Its designers imagine draping it like a transparent skin on the screen of an iPod to eliminate the need for speakers. Engineers may even use it to build soft robots or artificial muscles...
11:44 AM, September 24, 2013
A snake’s hiss is creepy enough to give any kid a fright. And a fire’s crackling may signal danger lurks nearby. Children learn to heed such threatening sounds or else risk peril. Fortunately, a new study finds, kids start paying attention to these types of sounds very early — by the time they’re 9 months old.This response to scary sounds has evolved in children over tens of thousands of years,...
13:25 PM, September 23, 2013
Brain & Behavior
In a folktale from the Middle Ages, a fox convinces a wolf that the moon is made of green cheese. That’s not true, of course, as moon rocks collected more than 40 years ago by the Apollo astronauts proved. But some rocky details of our moon can be gleaned without the aid of visiting astronauts. The latest example: An orbiting spacecraft may have just spotted water locked within surface rocks....
13:00 PM, September 19, 2013
Special cells can weave themselves together into blobs that, under a microscope, look a lot like the brain tissue in a developing fetus. You might think of these cellular masses as “brains-under-development.” Madeline Lancaster and Jürgen Knoblich offer a more technical name for them: “cerebral organoids.” Working at the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna, these molecular biologists helped...
12:38 PM, September 18, 2013
Body & Health
This is one in a series on careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics made possible by support from the Northrop Grumman Foundation.Oil and water don’t mix.You have probably heard this old saying. It isn’t just folk wisdom, however. It’s chemistry. Another common expression — like water off of a duck’s back — illustrates the same basic principle. The oil on a duck’s feathers...
17:48 PM, September 17, 2013
Chemistry, Physics, Technology & Engineering, STEM Careers
Jewelry in Ancient Egypt wasn’t just fancy: Some of it was out of this world!That’s the conclusion of two groups of scientists studying iron beads from an ancient Egyptian necklace. They found that those beads were made out of metal mined from meteorites. And that creation was no easy feat: The alien iron first had to be heated and hammered into thin sheets, then rolled into cylindrical beads....
10:00 AM, September 15, 2013
Fetuses are listening. And they’ll remember what they heard. Studies had shown they can hear songs and learn sounds while in the womb. Now scientists show that fetuses can learn specific words, too. And for at least a few days after they’re born, babies can still recall commonly repeated words.This study doesn’t mean that fetuses and newborns understand those words. Rather, the study found that...
14:16 PM, September 13, 2013
Brain & Behavior
On August 15, two food tasters joined a chef and a scientist on a stage in London before a live TV audience. Asked to rate a hamburger, they sniffed, tasted, then chewed bits of the meat. Afterward, they gave this burger — yes, the one burger they shared — a thumbs-up. In the mouth, it felt like normal ground meat, they said. And though its taste was less than ideal, they concluded that the patty...
11:00 AM, September 8, 2013
Food & Nutrition
Any child who has played with blocks knows why they're so useful. Kids can build almost anything from them — a plane, a castle, even a racecar. And if part of a creation comes apart or breaks, the builder doesn't have to start from scratch. She can just replace the missing blocks. And what's true for kids’ play is also true for adult projects. Here’s one new example, and it doesn’t even look like...
16:20 PM, September 5, 2013
Eating right can be a big challenge — especially with delicious, high-calorie foods all around. When those calories come from foods high in fat, the gut will reward the diner with a message to the brain that triggers feelings of pleasure. But eating lots of fatty foods can cause this pleasure-signaling pathway to fail. People with this problem tend to respond by eating more to make up for that...
14:47 PM, September 4, 2013
Brain & Behavior