A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Mimicking termites to generate new materials

Credit: Getty images; Mystery termite nest under the religion building in Chiang Rai province, Thailand

Researchers design new materials that mimic the fundamental rules in nature's growth patterns

Inspired by the way termites build their nests, researchers at Caltech have developed a framework to design new materials that mimics the fundamental rules hidden in nature's growth patterns. The investigators showed that, using these rules, it is possible to create materials designed with specific programmable properties.

The U.S. National Science Foundation-supported study, led by Chiara Daraio, was published in the journal Science. "Termites are only a few millimeters in length, but their nests can stand as high as four meters — the equivalent of a human constructing a house the height of California's Mount Whitney," says Daraio.

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6 advices for young writers by Isaac Babel

Short Bio

Isaac Emmanuilovich Babel (1894 –1940) was a Russian writer, journalist, playwright, and literary translator. He is best known as the author of Red Cavalry and Odessa Stories, and has been acclaimed as "the greatest prose writer of Russian Jewry."[1] Babel was arrested by the NKVD on 15 May 1939 on fabricated charges of terrorism and espionage, and executed on 27 January 1940 by the Stalinist regime. (Via Wikipedia)

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Media-saturation challenges trust in European democracy

Credit: Getty images

Between doomscrolling and disinformation

'Media is this layer that exists everywhere in our lives', said Dr Tanya Lokot as she explained the term 'mediatized' to Horizon Magazine. It gives her the title of the seven-country research project she leads from the School of Communications, Dublin City University (DCU).

'It's not just something we do for an hour or two.' We are drenched in media. In our personal, work, social and family lives, media has a meaningful role to play.

MEDIATIZED EU is examining the role of media in society and how it influences people's perceptions of the EU and the European project. It does so by analysing media discourses in the EU Member States of Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Estonia, Hungary, Spain, and non-member Georgia.

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Seeing your place in the Research Nexus

Credit: crossref.org

Get involved

Having joined the Crossref team merely a week previously, the mid-year community update on June 14th was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the Research Nexus vision. We explored its building blocks and practical implementation steps within our reach, and within our imagination of the future.

Read on (or watch the recording) for a whistlestop tour of everything – from what on Earth is Research Nexus, through to how it's taking shape at Crossref, to how you are involved, and finally – to what concerns the community surrounding the vision and how we're going to address that.

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Advice to young scientists

Credit: Getty images

A letter to a young scientist

Each beginning in a new profession is challenging, no matter the sphere one has chosen. At first, it looks like it isn't such a great effort but as soon as one realizes the size of the journey that has been undertaken it gets more and more appalling to continue. It is not rare that a lack of confidence and support scares and finally fails students and young scientific researchers. Here is a motivational speech by the world-renowned biologist E.O. Wilson that will make young scientists think twice before they abandon their dream.

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Sharpest image to date of the universe's most massive known star

Credit: Getty images

This star and possibly other colossal stars may be less massive than previously thought

Astronomers have yet to fully understand how the most massive stars — those more than 100 times the mass of the sun — are formed. One particularly challenging piece of this puzzle is obtaining observations of these giants, which typically dwell in the densely populated hearts of dust-shrouded star clusters.

Giant stars also live fast and die young, burning through their fuel reserves in only a few million years. In comparison, the sun is less than halfway through its 10-billion-year lifespan. The combination of densely packed stars, relatively short lifetimes and vast astronomical distances makes distinguishing individual massive stars in clusters a daunting technical challenge.

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Editor’s pick: Richard Feynman

Credit: Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman stands in front of a blackboard strewn with notation in his lab in Los Angeles, Californina. (Photo by Kevin Fleming/Corbis via Getty Images)

Excerpts from Feynman's book - QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (1985)

1. "We cannot predict whether a given photon will arrive at A or B. All we can predict is that out of 100 photons that come down, an average of 4 will be reflected by the front surface. Does this mean that physics, a science of great exactitude, has been reduced to calculating only the probability of an event, and not predicting exactly what will happen? Yes. That's a retreat, but that's the way it is: Nature permits us to calculate only probabilities. Yet science has not collapsed."

2. "With quantum physics, who needs drugs?"

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Ancient DNA brings us closer to unlocking secrets of how modern humans evolved

Credit: Getty images

Advances in studying ancient DNA from prehistoric remains provide us with new insight into the life of our African ancestors and the emergence of modern human

Humans all share a common African ancestry, making African history everyone's history. Yet little is known about the genetic evolution of people living on the continent in the distant past.

Thanks to advances in genome sequencing technology, scientists are now able to compare the DNA of people alive today with DNA extracted from very old skeletons, giving us a unique snapshot of life in Africa from many thousands of years ago.

In the field of human genetics, the story of Mother Eve is a familiar one. It describes how all living humans descend from one woman who lived in Africa 200 000 to 300 000 years ago.

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The pioneer of the French New Wave dies at 91

Credit: Photo by Jean-Louis SWINERS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard ( 3 December 1930 – 13 September 2022) was a French-Swiss film director, screenwriter, and film critic. He rose to prominence as a pioneer of the 1960s French New Wave film movement,[2] and was arguably the most influential French filmmaker of the post-war era.[3] According to AllMovie, his work "revolutionized the motion picture form" through its experimentation with narrative, continuity, sound, and camerawork. (via Wikipedia)

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Great Art Explained: The Scream

Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch (12 December 1863 – 23 January 1944) is a Norwegian painter who is considered the father of expressionism and one of the most influential figures in the world of modern art. His childhood was darkened by illness, death, and the constant fear of inheriting a mental condition that ran in the family. However, he managed to maintain a relative mental composure. 

He studied Royal School of Art and Design in Kristiania (today's Oslo), where he became part of the bohemia and met the Norwegian nihilist writer Hans Jæger. The latter inspired Munch to begin to paint his inner emotional and psychological states, which was seminal for the development of his style.

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Encrypted, one-touch, human-machine interface technology unveils user physiology

Credit: UCLA/Interconnected & Integrated Bioelectronics Lab

An advance may help prevent DUIs by detecting blood alcohol and drug levels prior to vehicle activation

Researchers at UCLA and Stanford University have developed a secure, noninvasive, one-touch technology using hydrogel-coated chemical sensors and a signal-interpretation framework. It can present detailed information about an individual's blood composition — such as metabolites, hormones, nutrients, and pharmaceuticals, as well as blood oxygen — all through the press of a finger.

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10 quotes by the Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein

Credit: Wikimedia commons

Thoughts to reflect on

1. The human body is the best picture of the human soul.

2. If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done.

3. Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.

4. Like everything metaphysical the harmony between thought and reality is to be found in the grammar of the language.

5. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

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Friday Science Jokes

Credit: Getty images

Science is fun

After a long summer break, Friday Science Jokes is back at your service. Even during the hot holidays some of us were working hard and we all know that science could be a hard thing to do. No matter if you are still learning, teaching, or conducting research and experiments, you should never forget the creative power of a good laugh. Thank goodness science lends itself to some pretty good jokes. Below you can enjoy some of them.

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Green aviation takes wing with electric aircraft designs

Credit: Hamza Nouasria via Unsplash

With the overall rapid growth of air travel, aircraft design is ripe for decarbonisation, but widespread electric flight requires better batteries and lightweight systems.

As the aviation industry emerges from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, when passenger numbers plummeted, the number of flights is increasing again. The industry is recovering to pre-pandemic levels of air passenger journeys, with some estimates forecasting over 40% growth by 2050.

In general, crises aside, air passenger travel tends to double every 15 years, with the aviation sector also proving one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It currently accounts for 2% of global GHG emissions, but this is forecast to potentially triple by 2050 from 2015 levels on its existing trajectory.

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Editor’s pick: Kurt Vonnegut

Credit: Kurt Vonnegut in a 1990 portrait Yousuf Karsh / National Portrait Gallery

A Man Without a Country (2005)

"A Man Without a Country (subtitle: A Memoir of Life in George W. Bush's America) is an essay collection published in 2005 by the author Kurt Vonnegut. The essays deal with topics ranging from the importance of humor, to problems with modern technology, to Vonnegut's opinions on the differences between men and women. Many of the essays explicate Vonnegut's views about politics and the issues in modern American society, often from a humanistic perspective." (via Wikipedia)

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Subsurface water on Mars defies expectations

Credit: Getty images

Physics connects seismic data to properties of rocks and sediments

A new analysis of seismic data from the InSight mission to Mars has revealed some surprises. The first: the top 300 meters of the subsurface beneath the InSight landing site near the Martian equator contains little to no ice. "We find that Mars' crust is weak and porous, the sediments are not well-cemented, and there's no ice or not much ice filling the pore spaces," said geophysicist Vashan Wright of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. Wright and co-authors published the U.S. National Science Foundation-supported analysis in Geophysical Research Letters.

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3 Quotes by the German Philosopher Friedrich Shelling

Credit: A February 1848 daguerreotype of Schelling; via Wikipedia

Thoughts to reflect on

1. "There is no greatness without a continual solicitation to madness which, while it must be overcome, must never be completely lacking. One might profit by classifying men in this respect. The one kind are those in whom there is no madness at all ... and are so-called men of intellect whose works and deeds are nothing but cold works and deeds of the intellect... But where there is no madness, there is, to be sure, also no real, active, living intellect. For wherein is intellect to prove itself but in the conquest, mastery, and ordering of madness?"

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Limb-regenerating fire-god salamander central to wound repair quest

Credit: Getty images

Regenerating lost body parts is impossible for humans, but cracking the cellular code of salamanders could help to treat serious wounds.

Salamanders are remarkable creatures. If one of these amphibians loses a finger, it grows back. Furthermore, if you chop away a piece of heart or spinal cord, it will regenerate. Perhaps most impressively, they can even regrow a leg bitten off by a hungry predator.

One of the most famous salamander species is the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), which is found in lakes near Mexico City.

The axolotl is a veritable Peter Pan of salamanders. Even the 30-centimetre-long reproductive adult retains features of its youthful phase throughout its lifecycle.

The prominent gills protruding from the back of its head are retained from the axolotl's larval phase. The fact that it never leaves the water throughout its life is unusual for an amphibian.

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Day or night — your brain is always listening

Credit: Getty Images

New research explores how the brain responds to music and speech during sleep

You're fast asleep. But your brain isn't taking the night off, according to new research funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. Researchers studied activity in the human cerebral cortex in response to music and other sounds. They observed vigorous auditory responses in the sleeping brain, similar in many ways to responses in the wakeful state but differing in a key component. While the waking state is characterized by ongoing feedback signals in the brain as it attends to and interprets incoming sounds, researchers found that those signals are greatly reduced during sleep.

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Secret troves of Etymology: Taikonaut

Credit: Getty images

What is a Taikonaut?

We have all heard the words astronaut and cosmonaut and know their meaning. But what is a taikonaut? In fact, the three words are synonyms: an individual who is trained to travel in spacecraft or has flown in outer space. So, why do we need three words if they have exactly the same meaning? Well, the truth is that on an etymological level they aren't exactly the same. Let's see what are the similarities and differences between the three terms.

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SSA Recent Posts

25 September 2022
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Short Bio Isaac Emmanuilovich Babel (1894 –1940) was a Russian writer, journalist, playwright, and literary translator. He is best known as the author of Red Cavalry and Odessa Stories, and has been acclaimed as "the greatest prose writer of Russian ...
33 Hits
23 September 2022
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: Getty images Between doomscrolling and disinformation 'Media is this layer that exists everywhere in our lives', said Dr Tanya Lokot as she explained the term 'mediatized' to Horizon Magazine. It gives her the title of the seven-country resea...
57 Hits
21 September 2022
Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS)
Social Sciences & Arts (SSA)
Credit: crossref.org Get involved Having joined the Crossref team merely a week previously, the mid-year community update on June 14th was a fantastic opportunity to learn about the Research Nexus vision. We explored its building blocks and practical...
62 Hits