Credit Kevin Ma, Pakpong Chirarattananon / AAAS/Science
These robotic flies, which were built in a Harvard lab, can flap their wings independently of each other and fly around while tethered to a power and control wire.
Credit University of Illinois and Beckman Institute
An insect's eye lets it see really well because each of its light-sensitive cells has a dedicated lens. This miniature camera, which mimics an insect eye, is made from an array of microlenses arranged on a stretchable sheet that can be inflated like a balloon to a hemispherical shape.
A smartphone can tell you where to get a cup of coffee, but it can't go get the coffee for you. Engineers would like to build little machines that can do stuff. They would be useful for a lot more than coffee, if we could figure out how to make them work.
But the rules of mechanics change at small scales. Friction becomes dominant; turbulence can upend a small airplane.
For years, many marine biologists have argued that the floating, open-ocean net pens that produce billions of pounds of salmon per year also generate pollution, disease and parasites.
In some places in western Canada, the open-ocean salmon farming industry has been blamed for the collapse of wild salmon populations in the early 2000s — though other research has challenged that claim.
This is a story about a duck. More precisely, it's a story about what your brain just did when you read the word "duck."
Chances are, your brain created an image of a web-footed waterfowl. It also may have recalled the sound of quacking or the feel of feathers. And new research suggests that these mental simulations are essential to understanding language.
The four cuts at the top of this skull "are clear chops to the forehead," says Smithsonian forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley. Based on forensic evidence, researchers think the blows were made after the person died.
Credit Donald E. Hurlbert / Smithsonian
This forensic facial reconstruction shows what the 14-year-old, nicknamed "Jane," may have looked like. Scientists say the remains found at Jamestown are evidence of cannibalism over the winter of 1609-1610.
Credit Donald E. Hurlbert / Smithsonian
Markings on the lower side of the jaw look like they were sawed with a sharp object, says forensic anthropologist Douglas Owsley.
"First they ate their horses, and then fed upon their dogs and cats, as well as rats, mice and snakes."
So says James Horn of the historical group Colonial Williamsburg, paraphrasing an account by colony leader George Percy of what conditions were like for the hundreds of men and women stranded in Jamestown, Va., with little food in the dead of winter in 1609.
They even ate their shoes. And, apparently, at least one person.
Say the words "crop insurance" and most people start to yawn. For years, few nonfarmers knew much about these government-subsidized insurance policies, and even fewer found any fault with them. After all, who could criticize a safety net for farmers that saves them from getting wiped out by floods or drought?
A new video reveals just how close NASA came last year to losing its $500 million Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in a narrowly averted collision with a defunct, Cold War-era Soviet spy satellite.
On March 29, 2012, Julie McEnery, the project scientist for Fermi, received an automatically generated email warning that the two satellites were due in just a few days to pass within 700 feet of one another as their respective orbits crossed.
Twenty years ago, when brain imaging made it possible for researchers to study the minds of violent criminals and compare them to the brain imaging of "normal" people, a whole new field of research — neurocriminology — opened up.
Adrian Raine was the first person to conduct a brain imaging study on murderers and has since continued to study the brains of violent criminals and psychopaths. His research has convinced him that while there is a social and environmental element to violent behavior, there's another side of the coin, and that side is biology.
If only there was an Oscar for "Smallest Movie," a group of IBM nanophysicists would be a shoo-in with their new one-minute stop-motion video starring 130 atoms.
A Boy and His Atom, which debuts Wednesday, has already been certified by the Guinness folks as the "world's smallest movie."
While it isn't exactly the most complicated story line — the nearly monochrome video features a boy, appropriately named Adam, who dances and plays with a toy atom — what's really amazing is how they did it.