Jennifer Ouellette
Jennifer Ouellette
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College undergrads find hidden text on medieval manuscript via UV imaging

College undergrads find hidden text on medieval manuscript via UV imaging

A page from a 15th-century medieval manuscript turns out to that is only visible under UV light. The discovery is due to the efforts of a team of undergraduate students at Rochester Institute of Technology, who built their own multispectral imaging system as part of a class project and managed to complete it despite the ongoing pandemic.It's not unprecedented to uncover previously hidden texts on ancient manuscripts. In 2016, an international team of scientists for "virtually unrolling" a badly damaged ancient scroll found on the western shore of the Dead Sea, revealing the first few verses...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Nov 20
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Scientists May Have Found a Material for Building on Mars

Scientists May Have Found a Material for Building on Mars

dream of one day colonizing must grapple with the stark reality of the planet's limited natural resources, particularly when it comes to building materials. A team of scientists from the Singapore University of Technology and Design discovered that, using simple chemistry, the organic polymer —contained in the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans—can easily be transformed into a viable building material for basic tools and habitats. This would require minimal energy and no need for transporting specialized equipment. The scientists described their experiments in published in the journal...

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Jennifer Ouellette
+1
Sep 27
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It’s now possible to detect counterfeit whisky without opening the bottle

It’s now possible to detect counterfeit whisky without opening the bottle

There's nothing quite like the pleasure of sipping a fine Scotch whisky, for those whose tastes run to such indulgences. But how can you be sure that you're paying for the real deal and not some cheap counterfeit? Good news: physicists at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland have figured out how to test the authenticity of bottles of fine Scotch whisky using laser light, without ever having to open the bottles. They described their work in published in the journal Analytical Methods.As last year, there is an exploding demand for expensive rare whiskies—yes, even of a global pandemic—so...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Sep 17
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Study confirms that painting eyes on cow butts helps ward off predators

Study confirms that painting eyes on cow butts helps ward off predators

Cattle herds in the Okavango delta region in Botswana are plagued by attacks by lions and other predators, prompting farmers to retaliate by killing the predators. An alternative nonlethal technique involves painting eyes on the butts of cattle to trick ambush predators like lions into thinking they've been spotted by their intended prey. It's called the "," and published in the journal Communications Biology provides some for the practice. There are now for using the "eye-cow" technique available in both English and Setswana, so farmers can try it out for themselves.Neil Jordan, a...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Aug 18
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Adding a dash of alcohol suppresses coffee ring effect in 2D printing inks

Adding a dash of alcohol suppresses coffee ring effect in 2D printing inks

Inkjet printing of two-dimensional crystals will be crucial for ushering in the next generation of printed electronics. While the technology has made a lot of progress in recent years, a major challenge to industrial-scale printed electronic components is achieving uniform distribution of the crystals; uneven distribution can result in faulty devices. The culprit is a phenomenon known as the "." Now scientists have created a new family of inks that can suppress the effect, according to a new paper in the journal Science Advances.Coffee rings are the pattern you get when a liquid evaporates...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Aug 12
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Civil-War-era smallpox vaccines were genetically similar, new study finds

Civil-War-era smallpox vaccines were genetically similar, new study finds

Scientists around the world are currently working feverishly to develop an effective vaccine against COVID-19 to curb the global pandemic that has claimed worldwide (and counting). Meanwhile, a collaboration between scientists at McMaster University, the University of Sydney, and historians at the  in Philadelphia, are looking to the past for potential clues. They have analyzed the genome of fragments of the smallpox virus used in vaccines during the Civil War, according to published in the journal Genome Biology."Understanding the history, the evolution, and the ways in which these viruses...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Jul 20
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The explosive physics of pooping penguins: they can shoot poo over four feet

The explosive physics of pooping penguins: they can shoot poo over four feet

Nature is a brutal place, so during brooding, chinstrap and Adélie penguins are reluctant to leave their eggs unguarded in the nest—even to relieve themselves. But one also does not wish to sully the nest with feces. So instead, a brooding penguin will hunker down, point its rear end away from the nest, lift its tail, and let fly a projectile of poo—thereby ensuring both the safety of the eggs and the cleanliness of the nest.Back in 2003, two intrepid physicists became fascinated by this behavior and were inspired to  to a burning question: just how much pressure can those penguins generate...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Jul 4
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Chilling out: Physicists create exotic “fifth form of matter” on board the ISS

Chilling out: Physicists create exotic “fifth form of matter” on board the ISS

Physicists at Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have created a rare quantum state of matter known as a (BEC) in space, according to published in the journal Nature. The physicists did so by placing a compact experimental setup the size of a mini-fridge on board the International Space Station (ISS). It's called the (CAL), aka "the coolest spot in the universe."BECs are named in honor of Albert Einstein and Indian physicist Satyendra Bose, who predicted the possibility in the 1920s that the wavelike nature of atoms might allow the atoms to spread out and overlap if they are packed...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Jun 15
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An ancient Roman city has been fully mapped using ground-penetrating radar

An ancient Roman city has been fully mapped using ground-penetrating radar

was once a walled town just north of Rome, likely founded around 241 BC as a relocation site for a Falisci tribe that had rebelled against the Romans. Located on a volcanic plateau, archaeologists surmise that the new site was chosen because it wasn't as easy to defend, thereby discouraging further uprisings. There were likely some 2,500 residents during the third and fourth centuries BC. The ruins are deep underground, but a team of archaeologists from the University of Cambridge and Ghent University in Belgium have used (GPR) to map the complete city. They described their findings in in...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Jun 14
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Study: People who hoard toilet paper are just looking for a symbol of safety

Study: People who hoard toilet paper are just looking for a symbol of safety

Back in March, we  the strange phenomenon of people scrambling to stockpile toilet paper as the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread adoption of shelter-in-place and social-distancing policies. Now German scientists have pinpointed a couple of key personality traits that appear to be linked to this kind of hoarding behavior, per in the journal PLOS ONE.Consumer behavior researcher in March that toilet paper hoarding is at least partly an attempt to gain a sense of control when the world feels uncertain and dangerous. "When we feel anxious, which I think all of us do right now—it would be...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Jun 12
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Astronomers have finally measured the distance of first observed Einstein ring

Astronomers have finally measured the distance of first observed Einstein ring

Astronomers around the world may have lost access to their telescopes during the coronavirus pandemic, sheltering in place along with the rest of us, but that hasn't kept them from advancing their field. Two astronomers used the shutdown to comb through existing datasets to hunt for a rare type of quasar and wound up rediscovering a so-called "" first observed back in 1987. They became the first to officially measure its distance from Earth, as reported in published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.An Einstein ring is a direct consequence of the general theory of relativity; mass bends...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Jun 8
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US court grants permission to recover Marconi telegraph from Titanic wreckage

US court grants permission to recover Marconi telegraph from Titanic wreckage

When  struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, crew members sent out numerous distress signals to any other ships in the vicinity using what was then a relatively new technology: a Marconi wireless telegraph system. More than 1,500 passengers and crew perished when the a few hours later. Now, in what is likely to be , a federal judge has approved a salvage operation to retrieve the telegraph from the , The Boston Globe .Lawyers for the company RMS Titanic Inc.—which owns more than 5,000 artifacts salvaged from the wreck—, arguing that the wireless telegraph should be salvaged because the ship's...

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Jennifer Ouellette
May 28
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Medieval arrows caused injuries similar to gunshot wounds, study finds

Medieval arrows caused injuries similar to gunshot wounds, study finds

The was a powerful medieval weapon said to be able to pierce an opponent's armor and may have been a decisive factor in several key military victories, most notably the . published in the Antiquaries Journal by a team of archaeologists at the University of Exeter in the UK has yielded evidence that longbow arrows created similar wounds to modern-day gunshot wounds and were capable of penetrating through long bones.Historians continue to debate just how effective the longbow was in battle. There have been numerous re-enactment experiments with replicas, but no medieval-period longbows have...

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Jennifer Ouellette
May 13
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Gecko’s soft hairy toes reorient to help it stick to different types of surfaces

Gecko’s soft hairy toes reorient to help it stick to different types of surfaces

The diminutive gecko is capable of some extraordinary feats of locomotion, zipping along vertical walls with ease and even running short distances across water. Precisely how they accomplish these feats has long interested scientists.  in Proceedings of the Royal Society B reports that geckos' ability to reorient their flexible toes is a major factor, enabling them to realign and adjust to shifts in gravity (load). The work may one day help to improve the design of bio-inspired robots.This work builds on from the laboratory of University of California, Berkeley biophysicist Robert Full....

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Jennifer Ouellette
May 11
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It’s one last time-traveling mission for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in S7 trailer

It’s one last time-traveling mission for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in S7 trailer

Another Marvel era is ending as gears up for its , 13-episode season on ABC. The spin-off series created by The Avengers writer and director Joss Whedon brought Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) back from the dead to lead an elite squad of agents to take on the terrorist group Hydra, eventually incorporating a superhuman race called Inhumans into the storyline. The official trailer has now been released, giving us a better look at what's in store for Coulson and his team on their final mission.(Warning: some major spoilers for S5 and S6 below.)Many cast and crew members expected Agents of...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Apr 29
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BCI system gives paralyzed man back his sense of touch with haptic feedback

BCI system gives paralyzed man back his sense of touch with haptic feedback

Ian Burkhart, now 28, had a diving accident in 2010 that severely damaged his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, with only limited movement in his elbow and shoulders. Thanks to an implanted brain-computer-interface (BCI) developed by Battelle, he has made significant progress over the last six years in restoring small movements; he's even able to play Guitar Hero again. And now Battelle scientists have succeeded in restoring his sense of touch, according to  in the journal Cell.BCIs are , with startups like Elon Musk's Neuralink looking ahead to a world where...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Apr 24
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Study: ‘Oumuamua interstellar object might be remnant of a “super-Earth”

Study: ‘Oumuamua interstellar object might be remnant of a “super-Earth”

In late 2017, our Solar System received its very first interstellar visitor: a  hurtling past at 44 kilometers per second. Scientists have been puzzling over its origin and unusual characteristics ever since. A  in Nature Astronomy offers a new comprehensive model to explain some of the object's oddities. 'Oumuamua, as it is called, may be the fragment of another, larger parent body—a long-period comet or debris disk, perhaps, or even a super-Earth planet—torn apart by tidal forces as it passed too close to its host star."Our objective is to come up with a comprehensive scenario, based on...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Apr 14
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Study with jazz improv musicians sheds light on creativity and the brain

Study with jazz improv musicians sheds light on creativity and the brain

There's that divides people into "left brain" and "right brain" categories, whereby the former are analytical and logical, while the latter are creative and innovative. The reality, of course, is much more complicated than that, and a new brain-imaging study of improvisational jazz guitarists is a useful case in point. Researchers at Drexel University found that while the right hemisphere is associated with creativity in fairly inexperienced jazz musicians, experts with high mastery of improvisational skills actually rely primarily on the left hemisphere of the brain. They described their...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Apr 10
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That time Benjamin Franklin tried (and failed) to electrocute a turkey

That time Benjamin Franklin tried (and failed) to electrocute a turkey

In households across the United States today, people are busily preparing the traditional turkey for their Thanksgiving feast—usually in an oven, although more adventurous souls might and opt for a . But when it comes to risky cooking methods,  has them beat. The Founding Father once infamously electrocuted himself while trying to kill a turkey with electricity.Franklin's explorations into electricity began as he was approaching 40, after he'd already had a thriving career as an entrepreneur in the printing business. His scientific interest was piqued in 1743, when he saw a demonstration by...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Nov 28
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Study: Building a better super-capacitor out of super-stinky durian fruit

Study: Building a better super-capacitor out of super-stinky durian fruit

The ubiquity in the modern world of consumer electronics has created a corresponding demand for better super-capacitors for energy storage, thereby enabling rapid-charging for our mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and electric cars. But the best materials for building high-performance super-capacitors are often costly. Now, scientists from the University of Sydney in Australia have successfully created a low-cost alternative, building electrodes for super-capacitors out of waste scraps from and , according to  in the Journal of Energy Storage."Durian waste, as a zero-cost substance that the...

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Jennifer Ouellette
Mar 10
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No, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is not disintegrating, physicist claims

No, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is not disintegrating, physicist claims

Earlier this year, several amateur astronomers on the planet Jupiter: bits of the gas giant's famed appeared to be flaking off, that the planet's most identifiable feature might be of disappearing. But Philip Marcus, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, begs to differ. He argues that reports of the red spot's death have been greatly exaggerated, and at a meeting of the American Physical Society's in Seattle this week, he offered an for the flaking.The Great Red Spot is basically a gigantic storm in Jupiter's atmosphere, about 22 degrees south of the planet's equator....

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Jennifer Ouellette
Nov 28
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