KindMind writes: The New York Times reports that Japan is freezing the ground around the Fukushima nuclear plant to stop the flow of groundwater and seawater contamination. From the article: "Built by the central government at a cost of 35 billion yen, or some $320 million, the ice wall is intended to seal off the reactor buildings within a vast, rectangular-shaped barrier of man-made permafrost. If it becomes successfully operational as soon as this autumn, the frozen soil will act as a dam to block new groundwater from entering the buildings."
ckwu writes: Strain sensors that detect subtle body motions can be used in health monitors or other wearable electronics. Researchers have now built a simple, inexpensive strain sensor by layering graphene atop a piece of stretchable adhesive tape. The graphene layers resemble fish scales, with larger pieces on top of smaller ones. As the device is stretched or bent, the graphene layers slip, and the contact area between overlapping layers changes. Measuring the change in electrical resistance reveals the change in strain. The device can measure a strain increase between 0.1 to 82% and is sensitive enough to measure a pulse from a person’s wrist or the throat vibrations of a person speaking.
ckwu writes: Mending ripped clothes could take just a few seconds and some water, thanks to a new self-healing coating based on a squid protein. The protein comes from the teeth ringing the suction cups of squid. When severed, the protein can fuse back together under water. To form the 1-micron-thick coating, researchers dip patches of cotton, linen, and wool into solutions containing a polymer and the squid protein. To mend a tear, they simply sprinkle warm water on the coated fabric and press the torn edges together. The repaired textiles remained just as flexible and strong as they were before the damage. What's more, the researchers can incorporate enzymes into the coating to break down toxins, offering the wearer protection against environmental hazards.
The Bornean orangutan was officially listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last month, joining the only other kind, the Sumatran orangutan, in that classification. In just 25 years, more than a quarter of Indonesia's forests – 76 million acres, an area almost the size of Germany – have disappeared. One of the main reasons is to clear land to make way for palm oil plantations.