4D material changes shape and size on command (TECHNOLOGY)

Buildings that can change shape in a split second or fold into a bag. It sounds futuristic, but the technology is within reach, after scientists from Harvard University managed to develop a material that can change size, shape, and volume at command. The material can also change its hardness into either bendable or completely inflexible, and last, but not least, it is incredibly strong. The scientists responsible for the ground-breaking invention were inspired by the traditional Japanese art form of origami. The new material is, however, not made up of paper, but rather of the artificial material polyethylene, which is folded into a cube with two missing sides and combined with other, completely identical cubes. The cube can be folded along all edges and so change volume or even fold completely flat. The material changes shape by means of pressurized air, which forces the building blocks to change shape. The pressure is added to the cubes via a number of tubes. In the future, the material will also react to electric impulses, heat, and water, so it can more easily change shape in the field. Harvard scientists imagine that in the future, the material can be used for a number of different purposes such as building refugee camps or even spacecraft.

Raw meat gave us a bigger brain (BIOLOGY)

Some 2.6 million years ago, our ancestors started to eat meat and use simple stone tools to process food. The change of diet had farreaching consequences and became a turning point for humanity, according to recent scientific research carried out at Harvard University in the US. The new prehistoric kitchen habits meant that our ancestors no longer needed to chew their food quite as hard or spend so much time eating. Up until that time, they had been munching roots, but raw meat and processed vegetables enabled them to quit about 17 % of the chewing – 2.5 million fewer chews per year per individual. Consequently, the way had been paved for the shrinking of our ancestors’ jaws, chewing muscles, and teeth, leaving room for a larger brain.

Virtual T-shirt provides X-ray vision (TECHNOLOGY)

How does our digestive system function, and how does the blood flow through the body? These types of questions are to be answered by a new T-shirt, Virtuali-Tee, for children and other inquisitive people. By means of augmented reality, the T-shirt allows us to travel into the body and see how the human machine is made up. Those who take a look at the Virtuali-Tee get a type of X-ray vision. The T-shirt has QR codes printed on the front, which show the internal organs, when you look at the T-shirt through a specific app. The app allows users to watch animations of the func-tions of different organs or read more about what they can do. Moreover, it is possible to simulate how the organs behave during exercise or during a meal.
The T-shirt adds a digital layer to the real world, indicating the functions of the internal organs.

Climate change makes Earth tilt (GEOLOGY)

Just like an unbalanced spinning top, our planet is swaying slightly back and forth around its own axis, and so, the geographical poles are constantly on the move. We have known this for a long time, but now, scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have used satellite monitoring of the water on Earth to solve one of the mysteries of the ongoing shifts. According to recent research, climate change could contribute to Earth's irregular movements. Until around 2000, Earth’s north pole moved in the direction of Canada at a speed of about 10 cm a year, but subsequently, it took a considerable bend, migrating towards the east at a speed of 17 cm/year, i.e. almost twice as fast. However, the melting of polar ice caps is not the only cause. Due to drought and depletion of ground water reserves in densely populated regions, the European and Asian land masses have lost water, which has moved to other parts of the world. The change of location of the water volumes has contributed to the shift in Earth’s tilt as compared to the Sun. In other words, the world has lost weight in some places and put on weight in others.

Treasure trove of Roman coins found in vases (ARCHAEOLOGY)

Workers working on water pipes in a small town outside Seville, Spain, came across a considerable Roman treasure of approximately 600 kg of coins from the Roman Empire located in 19 amphoras – tall, slim clay vases with two handles. The bronze coins date back from the late third or early fourth century. They carry the inscriptions of Emperors Maximian and Constantine and show almost no signs of wear. Archaeologists think they were probably wages for the army and civil servants. The area in which the coins were discovered has been cordoned off, as archaeologists search it thoroughly for other potential Roman treasures.

Scientists create artificial skin with natural hair (MEDICINE)

In a lab in Japan, scientists from the RIKEN centre and the University of Tokyo have managed to make a very sophisticated type of artificial skin, which includes hair follicles and sweat glands. The breakthrough is good news for people who will need a skin transplant due to burns, as well as for animals. The artificial skin can reduce the need for animal testing, as in the future, cosmetics and other products can be tested on the artificial skin, and so, lots of mice, rats, and other test animals could be spared. The scientists created the skin by extracting cells from the gums of mice. Then the cells were converted into stem cells, which were used to create three layers of fully functional skin. The artificial skin was transplanted onto mice, and after a few days, it "took root", connecting to both nerves and muscles. And only two weeks after the transplant, hair began to grow out of the hair follicles of the skin.

Are all tears the same? (QUESTIONS)

All tears are produced in glands right above the outermost part of the eye. Most are produced to protect our sensitive eyes against bacteria and dust, and in the course of an ordinary day, about 2 ml of tears are produced. However, the make-up of tears can vary. The most ordinary types include mucus, fat, salts, bacteria-killing enzymes, and antibodies, a protective layer of which spreads across the eye every time you blink. Other tears are produced by irritation or strong emotions such as grief or happiness and may contain stress hormones.
Basal tears: Lubricate and remove microorganisms with mucus, fat, salts, bacteriakilling enzymes, and adding antibodies.
Reflex tears: Produced when the eye is irritated, removing foreign bodies with many enzymes and antibodies.
Emotional tears: Caused by strong emotions such as pain and contain stress hormones and pain killers.

Whales breathe through their heads (FACTS)

Whales are the marine mammals that are most well adjusted to life in water. Unlike seals, they have developed blowholes on their heads, so they need not have their entire heads above water to "breathe". The special location of the blowholes also allows for the animals’ tracheas to be completely separated from their throats. So, whales suffer a smaller risk of getting water into their respiratory systems when they dive.

Butterfly has biological clock (FACTS)

Every winter, North American monarch butterflies migrate 3,000+ km south, and scientists have now discovered how they find their way. Their antennas include an internal clock, which, along with the Sun’s location in the sky, tell the butterfly in which direction to fly.

Hyenas and wolves hunt in groups (FACTS)

In the Negev Desert, striped hyenas and wolves have teamed up. The animals are enemies, but in this case, the wolves take advantage of the hyenas’ sense of smell to find prey, and the hyenas benefit from the wolves’ hunting skills, consuming their leftovers.

Which space shuttle was the biggest? (QUESTIONS)

The space shuttles that NASA built were all the same size. In 1981- 2011, five American space shuttles were in use, and they were all 37 m long and 24 m wide (from one wing tip to the other). They only needed two pilots, but were usually manned by a crew of seven astronauts.

Why is my food-tube so close to my breathing-tube? (QUESTIONS)

In humans and other terrestrial mammals, the trachea opening (breathing tube) is very close to the gullet opening (food tube). This location might seem risky, because when we swallow food, it may end up in the wrong place. Still, usually we do not choke on food, thanks to the epiglottis which shuts off the trachea when we swallow. Once in a while, the mechanism fails, and food finds its way down the trachea. If the pieces are big and block the passage of air, it can be lethal. This problem would not exist, if, during our evolution, the trachea had become completely separated from the plumbing that leads to the stomach. But the disadvantages are neutralised by more important advantages: We use the large cavities in our noses and mouths to heat and moisten the air that we breathe, so it is easier for the lungs to absorb the oxygen. If we become too hot, we use the air that we exhale to cool the body, blowing out hot steam from the internal surfaces of nose and mouth. Also, the expired air has the important function of helping us and other terrestrial mammals produce sounds for communication purposes. The air is modulated, as it passes by the cavities of nose and mouth, and subsequently, as it passes by the tongue and the lips. Expired air is turned into all types of sound – from the quiet squeaking of small rodents to the loud roars of lions and the varied speech of humans.

Why does a glass work as a speaker? (QUESTIONS)

Sound is pressure waves - air molecules moving away from a sound source. When your phone plays music, the sound is emitted, because a small speaker is moving back and forth, making the molecules of the air vibrate. A small speaker can only produce so much sound, but because waves can amplify one another, it is possible to boost the sound. If you place your mobile phone in a glass, the sound waves will resonate and amplify each other. It's like any musical instrument – the box of a guitar amplifies sound very much as compared to if a musician only touched one single string. The glass is a resonator.