Matter & Energy

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It is fortunate that scientists discovered anti-freeze proteins (AFPs). Otherwise, the way in which insects survive freezing conditions would be an impenetrable mystery to us. Insects lack things such as hair, fur or blubber, therefore, making it impossible for them to live in cold climates without AFPs. These proteins have evolved to prevent lethal ice crystals forming within insect bodies. For a long time, this phenomenon was explained using the ‘anchored clathrate’ theory of water molecule ordering.

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Scotland is a good example of a country that is making a commitment to a future with greener, more sustainable energy. The nation has increased its volume of off-shore wind farms by 37%, recently. However, this investment only means so much in the context of the weather. In calm weather, Scotland may need back-ups in the form of batteries in order to keep constant the current flowing through its grid.

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It seems that diamonds grown in a lab will have many roles to play in the electronics and engineering of the future. This could be because these precious stones contain (necessary) defects, often worked into the diamonds to order.

The defects are created when a non-carbon atom takes the place of a carbon atom in the orderly molecular lattice that normally makes a diamond. Nitrogen vacancies (NVs), for example, have drawn some attention due to their potential in diagnostics, and their ability to emit red light when green light hits them, which has potential analytical value.

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Kirigami is a form of art in which paper is deformed and bent into the desired shape. Originating in Japan, it is similar to origami, with the exception that cutting is also permitted in this discipline.

The principles of kirigami can also be applied to the cutting or impression of patterns into thin layers of metals, most often gold. This has been one of the goals of physicists as the results from this technique can be used to bend light at the nanoscale, and also to prove that such precise work is possible.

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Nuclear fusion was once thought of as the ‘holy grail’ of energy-generation and delivery. This kind of reaction involves the formation of two- or three-atom molecules of pure hydrogen, then pressing these together to form new atoms of helium, most often. Fusion has potentially desirable side-effects, such as the release of energy in the form of heat at astronomical temperatures.

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"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." - Albert Einstein

Scientists have created a tiny drum that can vibrate and stand still, simultaneously. A team of researchers from the UK and Australia has developed a novel technique that could help understand the boundary between the quantum world and our everyday, classical, world.

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Uranium is a heavy metal that is found in nature as U-238 and U-235, and in traces, as U-234. Since the half-life of this element is about 4.5 billion years, it has been useful in determining the age of the Earth. Past research has also indicated that some radioactive isotopes of uranium could possess nuclear properties and cause radiolysis on other planets too.

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If they were asked to think of a material to make solar cells, professionals might be inclined to think of perovskite - a mineral strongly associated with photovoltaics or electronics that are activated by light or store it in the form of energy (mostly as sunlight).

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What do atoms really look like in nature?

We tend to visualize these particles as electrons orbiting a spherical nucleus in defined, concentric shells, like the diagrams seen in many chemistry and physics textbooks.

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There are very few pure elements that have magnetic properties. This limits the options for those in the areas of engineering, manufacturing, and electronics. It may also put pressure on the reserves of those elements known to have magnetism (or ferromagnetism, as it is technically termed) – i.e., iron, nickel, and cobalt.

However, a new paper in Nature Communications has claimed that element ruthenium exhibited these desirable properties in a new experimental conformation.

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Graphene is a material that could serve as the semiconductor of the future. It is a matrix of carbon atoms that exhibits exceptional properties as an electronics component, thanks to its remarkable physicochemical structure.

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Internal bleeding should be taken seriously, and not just because it could indicate signs of severe trauma. This form of hemorrhage, which occurs in blood vessels far away from the skin (e.g., between internal organs) can deprive tissues affected of nutrients and oxygen, thus, increasing the risk of adverse events such as ischemia or necrosis.

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Many of us may be considering adopting or investing in the emerging low-carbon solutions in the market, so as to save both money and the environment. However, we may also be waiting for that perfect piece of technology or innovation that is definitely going to giving us our money's worth.

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Inorganic semiconductors are potentially useful in many areas of electronics and industry. Unfortunately, they tend to be disadvantaged in their reduced flexibility or plasticity. Therefore, they can snap or break apart under the forces necessary to form or bend them.

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Storm Emma, which occurred in early 2018 in the UK, may have stressed the importance of heat conservation for the many people affected by it.

Modern dwellings can be insulated by incorporating thin sheets of aerogel or Styrofoam into building shells during construction. However, these materials are synthetic and can represent environmental damage in their manufacture or disposal.

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If scientists from the future were to be asked about the significant discoveries of the 2010s, the term 'time crystal' would probably be at the top of that list.

Time crystals are solid compounds in which some atoms have been observed to "tick" regularly when exposed to electromagnetic fields.

The definition may sound a little underwhelming. However, it is the first example of atoms behaving in this manner.

In addition, time crystals may have many important roles in the electronics and engineering of the future.

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A team of Scottish scientists has developed a type of laser that is thin enough to be integrated into contact lenses.

However, those hoping to emulate their favorite Marvel character with super-ocular powers could be disappointed! The type of light the putative 'laser contacts' was designed to emit is more likely to turn someone into an authorized individual with easily-scanned credentials rather than an artificial X-man.

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Coloring one's hair is a regular personal care routine for many people. It is often used as an avenue to self-expression or as a way to stand out from the crowd. However, the actual process of coloring is not usually a favorite chore.

Most commercial hair dyes have the disadvantage of being potentially irritating, damaging to property or surfaces and smelling to a horrific degree. Even newer formulations contain chemicals that could be toxic to the environment at their disposal.

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Up to 70% of the electrical energy generated per year in the United States is wasted. This could be owed to the fact that the energy comes in the form of heat, which is then allowed to escape from its sources such as electronics, vehicles or industrial appliances.

For example, you may find that your phone heats up more when gaming or running heavy-load apps. This phenomenon is known as waste heat. New inventions or developments that could re-purpose more waste heat would be welcome, as doing so could cut down on overall energy use.

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Sweat is a surprisingly rich seam of biological information that can help track prevalent health metrics such as blood glucose and stress levels. It can be used to detect blood alcohol levels too.

However, getting samples of the fluid is not as easy as it sounds. Typically, people don't have as much conscious control over supplying a sweat sample as they might have with some other bodily fluids.

Health tracking through sweat collection and analysis could be more convenient and amenable to everyday life than traditional methods.

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