May 2021
Scientists Invent Whitest White Paint

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

The ultra-reflective paint could help keep buildings cool without air conditioning. Typical commercial white paints reflect only 80% to 90% of sunlight and fail to help buildings stay cool during the day. For the past six years, mechanical engineer Xiulin Ruan at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and his colleagues sought to create whiter paints to cool buildings "similar to an air conditioner, but without the need of electricity," he said. They explored more than 100 materials, narrowing them down to 10 and testing roughly 50 different formulations of each material.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

To Light or Not To Light Our Skies

By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

Reducing light pollution could be as easy as turning off a switch, but it still requires a well-coordinated effort. I was born and raised in Hong Kong -- the Pearl of the Orient. It's one of the most vibrant cities in the world and is famous for its neon-lit night markets. I also did not see the Milky Way until I was 30, when I visited Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Yuen Yiu
Tensions Sprout in Spring

By Abigail Malate, Inside Science

This month in pictures. As winter turned into spring, landscapes shifted both in nature and on a socioeconomic scale. This month, we witnessed harrowing anti-Asian sentiments, a container ship upheaving the global economy, and early spring blooms.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: GoToVan/Flickr
Honeybees Use Scent Maps to Keep Track of Their Queen

By Joel Shurkin, Inside Science

Honeybees relay the location of the queen through pheromones. Honeybees can find their way back to their queen using a sophisticated form of the telephone game. Even after foraging for hours, they can smell the pheromones of the bees between them and their queen once they are within a few meters of the crowd-ed hive. These pheromones relay messages to create a "global map" that tells them where to go. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Samo Trebizan via Shutterstock
Chemists Translate Jane Austen's Words into Molecules That Make Plastics

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

New encoding method aims to become faster and more accurate. Scientists have successfully encoded a Jane Austen quote into molecular cousins of common plastics, a new study finds. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Sarah Moor
These Giant Mirrors Will Help Astronomers See to the Edges of the Universe

By Catherine Meyers, Inside Science

The four-year process of casting the sixth of seven primary mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope began this month. When completed, the Giant Magellan Telescope being built in Chile's Atacama Desert will gather images of the universe that are 10 times sharper than those produced by the Hubble Space Telescope. It will snap photos of distant planets and search them for signs of life, reveal the masses and compositions of infant galaxies and analyze how stars are born and die.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: GMTO
A Visit to a Giant Science Lab

A unique, huge science building has a rainforest, a swamp, a grassland and even an ocean with a coral reef. This may look like an architectural work of art but this glass dome, called Biosphere 2, is actually a work of science.  WATCH VIDEO.
How High Could Icarus Fly Before His Wings Melted?

By Yuen Yiu, Inside Science

Greek mythology says Icarus fell because he flew too close to the sun. What does science say? Daedalus was a tragic genius from Ancient Greek mythology who was exiled to an island, where the king later imprisoned him. He built wings for himself and his son to escape and fly back home. But his son, Icarus, being a symbol of youthful rebellion, ignored his father's advice and flew too close to the sun. The sun melted his waxy wings, and he plummeted to his death in the Aegean Sea. So how high did Icarus have to fly for his wings to melt? READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Idelcarmat via Shutterstock
New Dinosaur Named 'One Who Causes Fear' Likely Sensed Prey with Keen Ears and Nose

By Charles Q. Choi, Inside Science

The new species unearthed in Patagonia belongs to a group called abelisaurids, which resembled tyrannosaurs with short, bumpy faces. A newfound dinosaur was likely as long as an elephant and was equipped with an extremely powerful bite, very sharp teeth, and huge claws on its feet, researchers say. In the dry Patagonian plains of Argentina, scientists unearthed 80-million-year-old fossils of a dinosaur they estimated could reach up to 5 meters long. The researchers named the carnivore Llukalkan aliocranianus. "Llukalkan" means "one who causes fear" in the language of the Mapuche people native to the area, whereas "aliocranianus" is Latin for "different skull." READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Jorge Blanco and Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Rare Microbes Turn Toxic Sludge into Usable Copper

By Joshua Learn, Inside Science

Bacteria found around a Brazilian mine could improve copper harvesting.   It took only 48 hours to turn a bottle of toxic, dark ochre sludge into something that looked more like an orange-tinged hazy beer. Within the bottle, invisible to the naked eye, a newly discovered bacterial strain referred to only as 105 was eating away at toxic copper sulfate to leave pure copper atoms. The bacteria had been found in the tailings pond of a Brazilian mine, and they were completing their task with little of the pollution and energy currently used by industry to produce similar results. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Paulo Tomaz/Flickr
Media rights: CC BY-SA 2.0
How Your Brain Tracks Moving Sounds

By Brian Owens, Inside Science

Researchers identify two neural circuits used to track the location and motion of a sound.  When an object moves across your field of view, your eyes and brain are able to smoothly track its motion. But what about moving sounds? Until now, we didn’t really know how, or even if, the brain and ears worked together when facing that scenario. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Jason Corey via Flickr
Media rights: CC BY-2.0
Snow Geese Got Fat Quick During the Pandemic

By Joshua Learn, Inside Science

Reductions in hunting due to COVID-19 restrictions may have led to less stress and better feeding opportunities for already thriving northern birds. As the world shut down and we locked ourselves in our homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, snow geese in Canada took the opportunity to gorge themselves on corn crops. The well-fed geese could spell additional trouble for the fragile Arctic ecosystems where they breed. "There was a lot of fat in these birds," said Frédéric LeTourneux, a doctoral student in biology at Laval University in Quebec City.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Double Brow Imagery via Shutterstock
Researchers Are Uncovering a Plastic Cycle in the Atmosphere

By Katharine Gammon, Inside Science

There’s now a microscopic plastic cycle that works like any other environmental cycle -- moving from oceans to sky to land and back again. Janice Brahney never set out to look for plastics in the atmosphere. Brahney studies the atmosphere as a vector to move elements through the environment -- for example, how phosphorus moves through the atmosphere and ends up in water bodies. But when she was setting up a network of dust sampling, she was surprised to find plastic in her dust samples. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: DedMityay via Shutterstock
Fantastic Yeasts and Where Bakers Find Them

By Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Inside Science

Global study reveals microbial diversity of sourdough starters. Sourdough bread has nurtured humans for thousands of years -- perhaps even more so during the bread-making hype of the COVID-19 pandemic -- and bakers have perfected the craft of making it over generations. Now, scientists are beginning to understand the identities and activities of the microbes in sourdough that are key to making a delicious loaf.  READ FULL ARTICLE.

Inspired by Insects, Tiny 'Robots' Walk on Water

By Tom Metcalfe, Inside Science

Researchers make tiny disks that can propel themselves without external power.  Inspired by the insects known as water striders, scientists have made disks of hydrogel that can move themselves around the surface of a body of water by using tiny differences in its surface tension. The disks, made from a gel that contains both water-attracting and water-repelling chemicals, propelled themselves by exploiting what's known as the Marangoni effect. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media credits: Jan Miko/Shutterstock
Yuri Gagarin's Space Shot Heard Round the World

By Peter Gwynne, Inside Science

Six decades ago, the Soviets launched a cosmonaut into orbit, shaking up the Cold War in ways that still reverberate. On April 12, Russians will celebrate the 60th anniversary of an event that changed the world: the first human flight into space by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The former foundry worker's complete orbit of the Earth created both awe and concern: awe in much of the world at an achievement that seemed to exemplify the self-proclaimed superiority of the Soviet Union's technology, and concern in the United States and other Western nations that were struggling for global influence in the Cold War with the USSR that had begun as World War II ended in 1945. READ FULL ARTICLE.

Media rights: Copyright American Institute of Physics
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