Shine a light in a gecko’s ear, and you’ll see light coming out the other side. This quirk of biology may one day give us robots that can amplify and locate sounds without requiring any energy to do so.
Sea butterflies are snails that have inverted themselves. Instead of using their flesh (via a foot) to crawl on the sea floor, they turned upside down and make their protruding bodies into “wings.” When scientists studied this unusual motion, they found the sea butterflies move exactly like fruit flies and other small…
Spider silk is nature’s Kevlar. It’s stronger than steel, it’s waterproof, and you can stretch it as much as 30 to 40 percent before it snaps. Now biophysicists at Johns Hopkins University think they know the secret to spider silk’s remarkable elasticity: protein threads that serve as stretchy “superstrings.” The…
Fetal brains begin to fold around the midpoint of the third trimester, but little is known about the actual process. A new model, in which a hunk of gel was made to swell in a liquid bath, shows how it happens in surprisingly accurate detail.
Rhampholeon spinosus, a lumpy-nosed chameleon that can fit on the tip of your thumb, doesn’t exactly inspire awe at first sight. But don’t let its size fool you: in one respect, this little lizard is among the most powerful machines on Earth. It’s got a tongue that moves like a supercar.
Nearly all diseases take time and money to diagnose. A new test that exploits a quirk of physics could make blood tests for certain diseases faster, cheaper, and easily performed in virtually any setting.
Brittle stars have a bit more in common with starfish that giant, luminous balls of gas. These organisms look like starfish but with tentacles, and they’re dubbed “brittle” because they’re so delicate—when they’re dissected, scientists can document what they find, but they can’t preserve the sample. It’s a one-time…
The California King Snake slithers effortlessly across the terrain, thanks to its well-lubricated slippery scales. And the unique structure of those scales may help scientists devise new kinds of water-resistant paints, coatings, or plastics, or design better snake-like robots.
Researchers at Itmo University in Russia have found a way to fold mutilated proteins back into the right shape. Afterwards, the proteins work better than they did before. They call it the “Phoenix Effect”: an exhausted protein is ripped apart by heat, only to rise again better than before.
These are horsetails. They are hundred-and-fifty-million-year-old plants and the last of their kind. Instead of seeds, they give off spores. And instead of flying or swimming, these spores use humidity to walk, or even hop, on four little legs.
There’s bad news and there’s good news in this post. The bad news is proteins from your own body accidentally smuggle radioactive metals into you. The good news is that those proteins can make those materials glow.
This wonderful video, “Life at the Interface,” shows how insects who live on the water make use of, or get tripped up by, fluid dynamics. You can see insects shoot up towards the edge of a container or fall helplessly into one another.
What happens when you trap 2000 fruit flies and expose them to a dose of 0.05 to 0.4 grays of radiation? You add another week to their lives—an,d considering they only live for two months, that’s saying something.
Of all the iridescent snakes in the world, the rainbow boa is the most famous, but the sunbeam snake, which we see above, is the most spectacular. The shimmer that they have comes from special structures called iridophores.
Ever wonder what would happen to a deep sea fish if it swam too close to the surface, or why scuba divers have to ascend very slowly after a deep dive? The latest TED-Ed video provides the answers as it explains the physics of pressure change.
Researchers at the MIT Department of engineering wanted to study the best ways to burrow through granular material. And in order to study the phenomenon, they looked at snakes, lizards, roundworms, and clams — and made some amazing videos, that it's hard to look away from.
Human bodies emit photons. What's more, they do so in a pattern that repeats itself every day. Find out why you're shooting light from your face, at regular intervals.
You know what's absolutely impossible? A system going from chaos to order. You know what cells do? Turn a chaotic universe into organized, channeled motion, again and again and again. How can that be?
Geckos, being master of the van der Waals force, climb up glass walls like it's no big thing. But can they do it when they're dead? Scientists have found out that they can, and that has important implications for technology.