05 3 / 2014
Two studies presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections showed that a reformulated, long-acting injectable drug called GSK744 gave 100% protection to macaques from the hybrid simian/ human AIDS virus for up to three months against infection. Researchers from the University of Rockefeller and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested the drug in a separate study in different doses on animal subjects, which gained similar positive results. Researchers expect to launch trials in the coming months to test if the drug will work on humans.
27 2 / 2014
Engraving microscopic cracks in glass sheets can make it 200 times tougher than normal, McGill University mechanical engineers say. The insight could lead to improvements in regular glass objects like wine glasses or jars that don’t shatter when dropped, instead only deforming on impact.
Researchers took a clue from nature to uncover the fact that etching wavy lines in test glass slides prevented stress-induced cracks from spreading into the material’s failure. Their muse was the seemingly simple mother-of-pearl coating inside the shells of some mollusks.
This material is called nacre, and it is mostly composed of chalk, a brittle substance that normally disintegrates under the slightest pressure. But the organism constructs a biomaterial that is 3,000 times tougher than the weak chalk from which it is composed, writes François Barthelat, who runs McGill’s biomimetic materials lab and led the research. The secret is in how the creature builds nacre out of tiny tablets of chalk that are laid down in offset rows. This architecture, which is also seen in teeth and bones, counters a propagating crack by deflecting it and diffusing energy to surrounding tiles.
27 2 / 2014
NASA’s Kepler space telescope has discovered more than 700 new exoplanets, nearly doubling the current number of confirmed alien worlds.
25 2 / 2014
A star created from the supernova of a first-generation star appears to be the oldest of its kind in the universe, according to astronomers. SMSS J031300.362670839.3, as it’s called, has almost no iron in its chemical signature, according to a report in Nature. There was no iron in the first generation of stars that resulted from the Big Bang, but “as soon as we’ve got a little bit of iron in the universe, that enables much smaller stars to form and that’s what we’re seeing in this finding — one of those stars from the second generation,” said the study’s lead author Stefan Keller of the Australian National University.
19 12 / 2013
The stripes on a zebra create optical illusions when the animals move, masking them from predators and pests, a study suggests. “We suggest that these illusions cause pests and predators to mistake the zebra’s movement direction, causing biting insects to abort their landing maneuvers and chasing predators to mistime their attacks,” said University of Queensland’s Martin How, lead author of the study published in Zoology. The researchers used computer models to reach their conclusions.
18 12 / 2013
Researchers for the first time have used 3-D printing to make a consumer electronic device, a loudspeaker ready for use almost as soon as it comes off the printer.
The work by roboticist Hod Lipson at Cornell University and his colleagues suggests 3-D printing might soon be mature enough to let people manufacture complete devices on demand.
"The exciting part of this project is that it paves the path to 3-D printing of consumer electronics and active systems," Apoorva Kiran, a Cornell mechanical engineer tells Txchnologist. "A good thing about 3-D printing inks that we developed at our lab is that even though they are for advanced applications, they are not hazardous chemicals, and their recipe is so simple that people can tinker with them even in their garage. With this work we hope that 3-D printing starts an era of open innovation."