March 2021
MRI with a Trampoline

By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

Using a bouncy platform instead of a vibrating tip may allow MRI machines to image a single virus. Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is commonly used in hospitals for scanning the bodies of patients. Researchers from Switzerland sought to expand the technique for studying something much smaller -- down to a single virus with atomic resolution.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: David Hälg and Shobhna Misra/ETH Zurich
Media rights: This image may only be reproduced with this Inside Science article.
Overcast Skies on Earth and Beyond

By Abigail Malate, Inside Science

This month brought unusual weather to many spots around the world. Many areas of the world witnessed extreme weather throughout February. The Southern United States experienced unusual cold and snow that threatened power and heat across the region. Snow dusted many parts of the Middle East that rarely see weather cold enough for such precipitation. Even on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance Rover captured a hazy sky. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Jonathan Cutrer
Not Just Bats: Researchers Say Numerous Mammals Could Host Unknown Coronaviruses

By Meredith Fore, Inside Science

A new model suggests that many more mammal species than was previously known could host the creation of novel coronaviruses. Most of the coronaviruses that humans encounter typically cause only mild infections. But the three most recent novel strains -- SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 -- are unusually virulent with relatively high fatality rates. They also have a shared origin story: They all developed in other mammalian species. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media rights: Public Domain.
2-Million-Year-Old Fossils Reveal What's Up with Ancient Thumbs

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

Fossil hands help solve the puzzle of when humans gained manual dexterity. Ancient thumbs now suggest human-like manual dexterity may have begun emerging by about 2 million years ago, shedding new light on previous research concerning the rise of advanced tool use, a new study finds. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Yok_onepiece via Shutterstock
Smart Stethoscope

An idea from noise-canceling headphones helps make a better stethoscope. The coronavirus may be taking center stage lately, but there are still other viruses and bacteria that can cause major health complications. Pneumonia accounts for 1.5 million deaths each year among children 5 and under, more than AIDS and malaria combined. And 98% of those deaths occur in developing countries, where medical facilities are few and far between and not well-fitted with needed equipment. WATCH VIDEO.
Tiny Levitating Planes May One Day Rule the Mesosphere

By Katharine Gammon, Inside Science

Miniature aircraft, powered by light, might offer new ways to explore the atmosphere of Earth -- or other planets. The upper atmosphere is a tricky place that’s poorly understood -- too high for airplanes and balloons to fly successfully, but too low for satellites. Rockets whiz through it, but only momentarily. “It’s sometimes called the ignoro-sphere,” said Igor Bargatin, a mechanical engineer at the University of Pennsylvania. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: ESA/NASA
Martian Dust Storms May Glow in the Dark

By Nikk Ogasa, Inside Science

Experiments reveal electrical sparks might light up the raging dust storms on Mars. Windblown torrents of dust and sand can swallow the Martian landscape and black out the sun. But within that darkness, electricity might sparkle and glow, new research suggests. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: NASA
Unconscious Dragonflies Still Right Themselves While Falling

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

New finding suggests muscle tone and wing posture help the insects execute an upside-down backflip, even when anesthetized. Dragonflies perform upside-down backflips to right themselves, even when unconscious -- a discovery that might one day lead to better drones, a new study finds. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Samuel T. Fabian
Human-Made Noise in the Oceans is a Growing Problem

By Tom Metcalfe, Inside Science

It’s becoming increasingly noisy beneath the waves, but people can do something about it.  The depths of the oceans are often thought of as a silent world, where almost no sounds are ever heard -- but that was never the case, and they’ve only become noisier as human technologies have advanced. There’s a growing underwater din from shipping, coastal industries, and off-shore oil rigs and wind farms, for example, and it has badly impacted animals like whales, dolphins and fishes that may struggle to hear their own sounds in the cacophony. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Elle777 via Shutterstock
Research Harnesses Bacterial Power to Generate Self-Reproducing Building Material

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

Combine sand, gelatin and bacteria, let them rest, and watch one brick turn into eight. Castles made of sand could, with the help of bacteria, grow copies of themselves and become as strong as the cement that commonly holds bricks together, a new study suggests. Such living materials could one day help people colonize Mars, scientists added. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: College of Engineering and Applied Science at Colorado
Astronomers Are Studying the Atmospheres of Faraway Planets

By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

How’s the weather up there? Even for exoplanets that are many light-years away, astronomers can learn about their atmospheres. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was built and successfully launched in 2018 to hunt for planets outside of our solar system. The $287 million instrument has located more than 2,000 potential exoplanets, with 91 of them already confirmed. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: NASA (Homepage image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC))
Humans on Mars

Scientists are working on projects to see if humans can make the trip to Mars and live there. NASA’s Rover Perseverance successfully landed on Mars on Feb. 18. The mission, called Mars 2020 and launched from U.S. soil in July 2020, is tasked with looking for signs of ancient life, collecting rock and soil samples, and exploring the use of technology for future robotic and human exploration. WATCH VIDEO.
Researchers Design Edible Holograms for Food

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

Laser etching on food-safe pigments can create 2D images that appear 3D.  Holograms are photos that, when illuminated, essentially act like 2D windows into 3D scenes. The pixels of a hologram scatter light waves falling onto them, making these waves interact with each other in ways that generate an image with the illusion of depth. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Adapted from ACS Nano 2021, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c02438
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