The video animation describes how small changes in urban water management practices could prevent the corrosion of concrete impacting many of the world’s sewers. Based on an extensive industry survey and sampling campaign across Australia, Ilje Pikaar et al. point to aluminum sulfate — added as a coagulant, or purifier, during drinking water treatment — as the primary source of sulfide in sewage (more so than sulfate from groundwater or waste). It contributes to 50% of sulfate levels in the sewers in Australia, they say. In their simulations, replacing aluminum sulfate with sulfate-free compounds at the drinking water treatment stage dramatically reduced concrete corrosion — by 35% after 10 hours and 60% over longer durations.

Read more about this research from the 15 August issue of Science here.

[Video © Professor Zhiguo Yuan, the University of Queensland]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.
Microbes Live in Water, Suspended in Oil

Microorganisms can live in tiny droplets of water that are trapped in oil, according to a new report from Rainer Meckenstock and colleagues. Their presence within the oil itself could suggest a more widespread potential for biodegradation of petroleum. Biodegradation can decrease the worth of natural oil flows in the ocean, where oil flows slowly up through networks of cracks. But, the process can also be harnessed to clean up accidental oil spills. Researchers found microbial communities in water droplets within samples from Trinidad and Tobago’s Pitch Lake, the world’s largest asphalt lake. Their analysis indicates that the communities contain a diverse group of microbial species that are degrading the oil into a variety of organic molecules. The composition of the water droplets themselves suggest that they came from within the oil deposit and not infiltration of water from the surface.

Read more about this research from the 8 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Rainer Meckenstock. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Microbes Live in Water, Suspended in Oil

Microorganisms can live in tiny droplets of water that are trapped in oil, according to a new report from Rainer Meckenstock and colleagues. Their presence within the oil itself could suggest a more widespread potential for biodegradation of petroleum. Biodegradation can decrease the worth of natural oil flows in the ocean, where oil flows slowly up through networks of cracks. But, the process can also be harnessed to clean up accidental oil spills. Researchers found microbial communities in water droplets within samples from Trinidad and Tobago’s Pitch Lake, the world’s largest asphalt lake. Their analysis indicates that the communities contain a diverse group of microbial species that are degrading the oil into a variety of organic molecules. The composition of the water droplets themselves suggest that they came from within the oil deposit and not infiltration of water from the surface.

Read more about this research from the 8 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Rainer Meckenstock. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Computer Chip Mimics Features of Real Brain

Researchers have designed a computer chip with brain-like wiring and architecture that can perform sophisticated tasks in real-time while consuming very little energy. The chip paves the way for the design of computer devices suited to tasks conventional computer chips are unable to do well. The researchers’ basic building block was a core comprising 256 input lines (“axons”) and 256 output lines (“neurons”). They connected more than 4,000 such cores and implemented them on a digital computer chip called “TrueNorth,” which has over 256 million “synapses” that trade electrical signals. 

Read more about this research from the 8 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of IBM Research. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Computer Chip Mimics Features of Real Brain

Researchers have designed a computer chip with brain-like wiring and architecture that can perform sophisticated tasks in real-time while consuming very little energy. The chip paves the way for the design of computer devices suited to tasks conventional computer chips are unable to do well. The researchers’ basic building block was a core comprising 256 input lines (“axons”) and 256 output lines (“neurons”). They connected more than 4,000 such cores and implemented them on a digital computer chip called “TrueNorth,” which has over 256 million “synapses” that trade electrical signals.

Read more about this research from the 8 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of IBM Research. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Jesse Silverberg from Cornell University and colleagues report how they used origami-based engineering to design and build a new type of lightweight, ultra-tough programmable metamaterial. The researchers explain that metamaterials are constructed out of medium-sized building blocks that are bigger than atoms, but much smaller than the structures they are used to construct and that “by adding structure at this intermediate size, previously unobtainable properties can be engineered with ease.” The researchers studied a specific type of zigzag folding pattern that has been used to efficiently pack solar panels for space missions. They used the pattern to create folded sheets, and then devised a way to structurally alter the sheets so that they could control their mechanical properties. The team, led by Cornell University’s Itai Cohen, presented the research at the Sixth International Meeting on Origami in Science, Mathematics and Education in Tokyo, Japan.

Read more about this research from the 8 August 2014 issue of Science here.

[Images credit: Jesse Silverberg, Arthur Evans, Lauren McLeod, Ryan Hayward, Thomas Hull, Christian Santangelo, Itai Cohen.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Small, origami-inspired pop-up robots function autonomously

Inspired by the traditional Japanese art form of Origami or “folding paper,” researchers have developed a way to coax flat sheets of composite materials to self-fold into complex robots that crawl and turn. In the experiment, the researchers’ robot self-assembled from flat sheets of paper and shape memory polymers (which change shape when heated above 100˚ Celsius) into which they had embedded electronics. The flat composite transformed into a dynamic, functional machine in about four minutes. It then crawled away at a speed of about 5.4 centimeters or over 2 inches, per second, and it also turned—all without human help. No previous self-folding approach has yielded a machine that can function without additional outside assistance. 

Read more about this research from the 8 August 2014 issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Seth Kroll, Wyss Institute. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Small, origami-inspired pop-up robots function autonomously

Inspired by the traditional Japanese art form of Origami or “folding paper,” researchers have developed a way to coax flat sheets of composite materials to self-fold into complex robots that crawl and turn. In the experiment, the researchers’ robot self-assembled from flat sheets of paper and shape memory polymers (which change shape when heated above 100˚ Celsius) into which they had embedded electronics. The flat composite transformed into a dynamic, functional machine in about four minutes. It then crawled away at a speed of about 5.4 centimeters or over 2 inches, per second, and it also turned—all without human help. No previous self-folding approach has yielded a machine that can function without additional outside assistance.

Read more about this research from the 8 August 2014 issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Seth Kroll, Wyss Institute. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

A Recipe for Birds: 50 Million Years of Dinosaur Shrinking

To give us birds as we know them today, the dinosaur lineage that evolved into birds shrank in body size continuously for 50 million years, a new study reports. Using advanced statistical techniques and an unprecedented dataset of more than 1,500 anatomical traits coded from 120 well-documented species of theropod and early birds, Lee et al. infer size changes and rates of anatomical evolution across theropods. Unlike in past studies, the Bayesian methods Lee and colleagues employed sampled traits across all branches of the theropod tree and across the entire dinosaur body. Their approaches revealed that theropod body size decreased 12 times, from an initial mean mass of 163 kilograms to 0.8 kilograms in Archaeopteryx, the earliest-known bird.

Read more about this research from the 1 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Davide Bonnadonna. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

A Recipe for Birds: 50 Million Years of Dinosaur Shrinking

To give us birds as we know them today, the dinosaur lineage that evolved into birds shrank in body size continuously for 50 million years, a new study reports. Using advanced statistical techniques and an unprecedented dataset of more than 1,500 anatomical traits coded from 120 well-documented species of theropod and early birds, Lee et al. infer size changes and rates of anatomical evolution across theropods. Unlike in past studies, the Bayesian methods Lee and colleagues employed sampled traits across all branches of the theropod tree and across the entire dinosaur body. Their approaches revealed that theropod body size decreased 12 times, from an initial mean mass of 163 kilograms to 0.8 kilograms in Archaeopteryx, the earliest-known bird.

Read more about this research from the 1 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Davide Bonnadonna. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Finger Patterning Controlled by Turing Network

Your thumb, your pinky and every finger in between gets its unique position on the hand as the result of a self-organizing process called a Turing network, Jelena Raspopovic and colleagues report. The pattern takes its name from Alan Turing, better known as the father of theoretical computer science, and describes how a model he developed explains the self-regulated patterning of tissues in embryos. Turing networks have been used to describe pigmenting in fish and feather and hair patterning in chick and mouse embryos, but attempts to explain the hand’s digit patterning using this mechanism have fallen short until now. Raspopovic and colleagues now identify a network of molecular signaling by genes related to embryonic growth and they further confirmed the presence of a Turing network by using their mouse data to create a computer model that accurately reproduced the sequence of digit patterning. 

Read more about this research from the 1 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Jelena Raspopovic. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Finger Patterning Controlled by Turing Network

Your thumb, your pinky and every finger in between gets its unique position on the hand as the result of a self-organizing process called a Turing network, Jelena Raspopovic and colleagues report. The pattern takes its name from Alan Turing, better known as the father of theoretical computer science, and describes how a model he developed explains the self-regulated patterning of tissues in embryos. Turing networks have been used to describe pigmenting in fish and feather and hair patterning in chick and mouse embryos, but attempts to explain the hand’s digit patterning using this mechanism have fallen short until now. Raspopovic and colleagues now identify a network of molecular signaling by genes related to embryonic growth and they further confirmed the presence of a Turing network by using their mouse data to create a computer model that accurately reproduced the sequence of digit patterning.

Read more about this research from the 1 August issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Jelena Raspopovic. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.
A New Tool for Analyzing Cultural Mobility

A dataset on the birth and death locations of distinguished individuals over 2,000 years is providing insights into cultural mobility, a new study reports. To better understand the spread of disease, the rise of conflict, and the evolution of cities, researchers have needed a way to quantitatively analyze the impact of individual historical developments on societal practices. They used the migration patterns of more than 150,000 notable individuals, as represented by their birth and death locations, and suggest that the consistent global patterns uncovered with their framework will help provide guidance with respect to predicting growth, size and distance distributions going forward, as well as better interpreting of cultural phenomena. 

Read more about this research in the 1 August 2014 issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Maximilian Schich & Mauro Martino, 2014. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

A New Tool for Analyzing Cultural Mobility

A dataset on the birth and death locations of distinguished individuals over 2,000 years is providing insights into cultural mobility, a new study reports. To better understand the spread of disease, the rise of conflict, and the evolution of cities, researchers have needed a way to quantitatively analyze the impact of individual historical developments on societal practices. They used the migration patterns of more than 150,000 notable individuals, as represented by their birth and death locations, and suggest that the consistent global patterns uncovered with their framework will help provide guidance with respect to predicting growth, size and distance distributions going forward, as well as better interpreting of cultural phenomena.

Read more about this research in the 1 August 2014 issue of Science here.

[Image courtesy of Maximilian Schich & Mauro Martino, 2014. Please click here for more information.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.

Science at The White House Science Fair In this video, Elana Simon, a survivor of fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma and co-first author of a research study published in the journal Science, discusses both the research and her personal connection to it with President Barack Obama at The White House Science Fair on 27 May 2014.

[Video courtesy of The White House.]

© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.
© 2014 American Association for the Advancement of Science. All Rights Reserved.