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Submission + - Phase-changing material for Robots.

rtoz writes: In the movie "Terminator 2," the shape-shifting T-1000 robot morphs into a liquid state to squeeze through tight spaces or to repair itself when harmed.

Now a phase-changing material built from wax and foam, and capable of switching between hard and soft states, could allow even low-cost robots to perform the same feat.

The material developed by MIT researchers could be used to build deformable surgical robots. The robots could move through the body to reach a particular point without damaging any of the organs or vessels along the way.

The Robots built from this material could also be used in search-and-rescue operations to squeeze through rubble looking for survivors.

Submission + - Chemists build first 'buckyball' made of boron (

CelestialScience writes: Researchers have built the first “buckyballs” composed entirely of boron. Unlike the original, carbon-based buckyballs, the boron molecules are not shaped like soccer balls, with tessellating pentagons and hexagons. Instead, they are molecular cages made up of hexagons, heptagons and triangles. As Lai-Sheng Wang of Brown University and colleagues report in the journal Nature Chemistry, each one contains 40 atoms, compared with carbon buckyballs which are made of 60. Boron is not the first element after carbon to get "buckyballed", but the boron balls may be the closest analogue to the carbon variety. Because of their reactivity, they could be useful for storing hydrogen.

Submission + - Ray tracing enables first real time travel movies (

CelestialScience writes: What does time travel look like? Hollywood has struggled with the question for decades but it is physicists who have now made the first movies of what a voyage to the past would actually look like. The visualisations are surreal, the result of the shape of a hypothetical universe in which time travel is possible. They might help us understand the origins of causality, which is still shrouded in mystery, and pave the way to physical, table-top models of time travel. Wolfgang Schleich and his team at the University of Ulm, Germany made the films via ray tracing, a computer graphics technique. The movies may have practical applications, such as aiding the interpretation of light rays from ancient galaxies that are only now reaching our telescopes. You have to register to read the story at New Scientist, but you can watch the video here.

Submission + - Twitter reveals how Higgs gossip reached fever-pitch (

CelestialScience writes: "Do you long to relive the heady days last July, when the Higgs boson was rumoured to be announced — and then finally was? Now you can — via the first analysis of Twitter conversations that occurred before, during and after the seminal announcement. of the University of Birmingham, UK and colleagues, who study the relationships between social and geographic networks, saw the Higgs announcemen as a unique opportunity to gather data. "The traffic — amounting to more than 1 million tweets — provides a neat reflection of real-world excitement, starting with rumours of the elusive particle, and eventually erupting into a buzz of Higgsteria with global reach," writes New Scientist, which also provides a video of the spread of the gossip. The data might even help marketers predict how news about their products will spread."

Submission + - New quantum computing record set by recycled photons (

CelestialScience writes: A recycling technique has enabled a quantum computer to carry out a quantum calculation known as Shor's algorithm on a larger number than ever before.The benchmark algorithm exploits quantum mechanics to simplify the factorisation of numbers into their prime components — a hard task for classical computers when the numbers get large. Until now, the largest number factorised using Shor's algorithm was 15. Now Anthony Laing at the University of Bristol, UK and colleagues report in Nature Photonics that they used a recycled photon to factorise 21 — still far too small and trivial to spook cryptographers, who rely on the difficulty of factorising large numbers for their widely-used techniques. But a record nonetheless.

Submission + - Exoplanets form never-seen-before celestial alignment (

CelestialScience writes: The heavens have aligned in a way never seen before, with two exoplanets overlapping as they cross their star. Teruyuki Hirano of the University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues used data from the Kepler space telescope to probe KOI-94, a star seemingly orbited by four planets. It seems that one planet candidate, KOI-94.03, passed in front of the star and then the innermost candidate, KOI-94.01, passed between the two. The phenomenon is so new it doesn't yet have a name though suggestions include "planet-planet eclipse", "double transit", "syzygy" and "exosyzygy".

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