An inversion of nature: how air conditioning created the modern city | The Guardian


The shopping mall would have been inconceivable without air conditioning, as would the deep-plan and glass-walled office block, as would computer servers. The rise of Hollywood in the 1920s would have been slowed if, as previously, theaters had needed to close in hot weather.

The expansion of tract housing in postwar suburban America relied on affordable domestic air conditioning units.

A contemporary museum, such as Tate Modern or Moma, requires a carefully controlled climate to protect the works of art.

Source: An inversion of nature: how air conditioning created the modern city | Cities | The Guardian

This Itsy Bitsy Spider is a Robot | SIGNAL Magazine


Researchers have developed an integrated fabrication process that for the very first time enables the design of soft robots on the millimeter scale with micrometer-scale features. To demonstrate the capabilities of their new technology, they created a robotic soft spider from a single elastic material with body-shaping, motion and color features.

The team first used a soft lithography technique to generate 12 layers of an elastic silicone that together constitute the soft spider’s material basis. Each layer is precisely cut out of a mold with a laser-micromachining technique, and then bonded to the one below to create the rough 3-D structure of the soft spider.

The approach, known as Microfluidic Origami for Reconfigurable Pneumatic/Hydraulic (MORPH), could open up the field of soft robotics to researchers who are more focused on medical applications where the smaller sizes and flexibility of these robots could enable an entirely new approach to endoscopy and microsurgery, researchers say.

Source: This Itsy Bitsy Spider is a Robot | SIGNAL Magazine

Scientists weighed all life on Earth. It’s mind-boggling. | Vox

If everyone on the planet were to step on one side of a giant balance scale, and all the bacteria on Earth were to be placed on the other side, we’d shoot violently upward.

That’s because all the bacteria on Earth combined are about 1,166 times more massive than all the humans.

Source: Scientists weighed all life on Earth. It’s mind-boggling. – Vox

The first graphene jacket is here, and it’s magical


The jacket is made out of a two-sided material, which the company invented during the extensive R&D process. The graphene side looks gunmetal gray, while the flipside appears matte black. To create it, the scientists turned raw graphite into something called graphene “nanoplatelets,” which are stacks of graphene that were then blended with polyurethane to create a membrane.

That, in turn, is bonded to nylon to form the other side of the material, which Vollebak says alters the properties of the nylon itself. “Adding graphene to the nylon fundamentally changes its mechanical and chemical properties–a nylon fabric that couldn’t naturally conduct heat or energy, for instance, now can,” the company claims.

Source: The first graphene jacket is here, and it’s magical

People with strong self-control experience less intense bodily states like hunger and fatigue | Research Digest


You may think of people with high self-control as having enviable reserves of willpower, but recent findings suggest this isn’t the case. Instead it seems the strong-willed are canny folk, adept at avoiding temptation in the first place.

The new findings make sense: after all, it is much easier to be in control of your decisions if you are organized enough to ensure your animalistic needs rarely become overpowering.

Source: People with strong self-control experience less intense bodily states like hunger and fatigue – Research Digest

Meet the Fish That Grows Up in Just 14 Days | Smart News | Smithsonian


That rapid maturation is an adaptation to the killifish’s habitat, according to the study published this week in the journal Current Biology.

The fish spend most of their lives as tiny embryos that have been deposited in sediment in small depressions across the savannah. When rain fills the ephemeral pools, the embryos mature rapidly reaching sexual maturity and depositing their own embryos before the pool once again dries up.

Not only do they make babies quickly, they bulk up fast, too—typically growing from about 5 millimeters to 54 millimeters in their lifespan.

Source: Meet the Fish That Grows Up in Just 14 Days | Smart News | Smithsonian

Precious invisibility: scientists use gold to make thermal camouflage


An effective thermal camouflage requires an engineering hat-trick.

You need a material that is flexible, can adapt to different temperatures, and can do so extremely quickly. Some of the difficulties encountered in the development of thermal camouflage so far include poor temperature variability, slow response times, and the requirement for rigid materials, to name a few.

Now Coskun Kocabas at University of Manchester in Manchester, England, along with colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., as well as Bilkent University and the Izmir Institute of Technology in Turkey, have developed a flexible camouflage system that blends with background temperatures within seconds.

Source: Precious invisibility: scientists use gold to make thermal camouflage

The “Cause” of the Deadly Global Heatwave | US News

These sorts of the extreme heatwave events <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/climate-change-and-health-extreme-heat#/map” target=”_blank”>have been predicted for decades by scientists. We’ve known for some time now that extreme weather events like extraordinarily hot days would become more prevalent as the world heated up.

They are a signature of a changing climate on Earth. But is this unprecedented global heatwave caused by climate change?

Source: The “Cause” of the Deadly Global Heatwave | At the Edge | US News

The Trump Administration’s Science Budget Memo Leaves Out Climate Science | Pacific Standard


For the second year in a row, the White House’s annual memo to science agencies about what research to focus on makes no mention of climate change.

“This document really conveys the administration’s opposition to climate change research,” says Romany Webb, a fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. The Sabin Center included the memo on its list of government actions that restrict science research and dissemination. “The administration has, in many ways, gone beyond what previous administrations have done to actually attack climate science,” Webb says.

Source: The Trump Administration’s Science Budget Memo Leaves Out Climate Science – Pacific Standard

Wildfires 2018: humans have made fires worse at every step | Vox


It’s important to keep in mind that wildfires are a normal phenomenon across many parts of the US (and the world). They’re essential for restoring nutrients to the soil, clearing out decay, and helping plants like the lodgepole pine reproduce.

But the growing massive, destructive, and deadly conflagrations we’re seeing now are hardly a force of nature at this point. At almost every step, human activity has exacerbated the risks, the damages, and the harms from fires.

These risks are continuing to mount, which means the future holds more dangerous, frequent, and costly blazes for vast swaths of the United States.

Source: Wildfires 2018: humans have made fires worse at every step – Vox