Monthly Archives: October 2011

Scientists develop artificial skin made of transparent nanotubes

Scientists at Stanford Universityhave developed the prototype of synthetic skin that is stretchy, transparent, and highly sensitive. It is made from spray-on carbon nanotubes, suspended in liquid, applied to a layer of silicon. The nanotubes act as springs and are able to measure the force being applied to them.

The “skin” could be fitted to robots to mimic the sensation of feeling and sensitivity. However, its inventors have broader, more human ambitions for its application.

“The ultimate dream of this type of research is to restore functionality to lost skin, or amputees, or injured soldiers or burn victims,” said Stanford’s Darren Lipomi, author of the paper describing the new sensor.

Full story: POPSCI http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-10/stanford-skin-lab-develops-new-skin-sensor-made-clear-nanotube-springs

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Radio station slammed for its “win a baby” competition

It’s normally tickets or vouchers or cash for that one lucky listener who can provide the correct answer. Radio phone-in competitions don’t tend to make the news but a Canadian radio station has done so, after taking its prize much further. However, in the eyes of fertility campaigners, it is way too far. 

Ottawa’s Hot 89.9 FM advertised its competition last month with posters of babies all across the city carrying slogans such as “Are you my mommy?”  and “She could be yours!”. The rules were simple. The most convincing candidate who could produce 100 words to a panel of judges on why they most deserve a baby would win three rounds of fertility treatment worth $35,000.

Fertility campaigners are appalled at the contest, angrily branding it “tacky” and “distasteful”. Jan Silverman, Toronto fertility counsellor, said she objected to “commodification of babies, turning babies into products”. However, she felt the contest had one silver lining, as it raised awareness about fertility issues and the cost of the treatment, which is faced by one in six Ottawa couples.

Full story: Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/07/win-baby-competition-canada-radio

Did soap bubbles ever look so beautiful?

Here is a photograph that has been circulating the science news in the last couple of days, simply because it is so unusual, so intriguing, and so beautiful.

It is a photo from a research paper titled Visualization of flow patterns past various objects in two-dimensional flow using soap film. The researchers point out that a simple soap bubble is possibly the most powerful and effective medium when it comes to researching fluid dynamics.

The authors explain: “Although many advanced experimental flow visualizations, such as particle image velocimetry or laser Doppler velocimetry, have been developed and used in fluid dynamics research, the use of flowing soap films has remained as an educational tool and economical visualization technique to study fluid-structure interaction and hydrodynamic instability in two-dimensional fluid flows. Making use of the optical properties of the soap film and high-speed photography, the wake evolution and vortex patterns behind different bodies can be tracked and captured.”

This photograph is – as many writers and bloggers have noted – “a beautiful reminder that Physics is everywhere, even in soap”.

To see a large version of the photo, in very high resolution, click here: http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/io9/2011/10/soapfilmsbest.jpg
Many people may want to use this as desktop wallpaper.