In the video above, sound waves passing around and through a drop of mercury set it oscillating. But the physics of the system — determined by things like the speed of sound in mercury and the strength of its surface tension — allow some sound waves to excite special vibrations in the drop. In other words, the mercury drop has resonances with the sound at specific frequencies.
These are called the resonant modes of the drop. When the frequency of the sound waves matches the frequency of the drop’s resonant modes, highly organized patterns of pulsation are triggered. You know you’ve hit strong resonances when something like a multiple-armed, star-shaped pattern emerges.
It’s a remarkable reminder of the hidden architectures embedded in the world around us.
This magnetically-controlled micro-robot is in charge of gluing things. That magnetically-controlled micro-robot is in charge of placing carbon rods. Together they might build a small yet strong tiny truss that can hold 1kg (2.2lbs). Sounds like cool robot news, right?
The research powerhouse says the bots can construct lightweight, high-strength structures; handle tiny electrical components; carry out chemistry on a chip; and perform many other manufacturing tasks. Eventually, they expect that the machines, the smallest of which are no thicker than a dime, will even be able to build smaller versions of themselves.
“The vision is to have an army of ants under your control,” said Annjoe Wong-Foy, senior research engineer at the Menlo Park, Calif., institute.
FilethisunderSwarm Robotics. How does it work? Highly-localized magnetic fields help drive the robots speedily over circuit board surfaces so that they can accomplish their individual tasks.
From the Smithsonian video archives, paleoanthropologist Briana Pobiner explains what it’s like to be a human evolution and fossil forensics expert who is focused on the history of meat-eating, a Dietary Detective of sorts!
Maple trees + good timing + basic chemistry = maple syrup. But Science Friday takes us behind the scenes of maple syrup research to show that there’s much more to it than that. While the tradition has been to tap fully grown wild trees – commercially with lots of plastic tubing – recent experiments at University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center have found that harvesting from the cut tops of juvenile trees might yield 5 to 6 times per acre, surprisingly without harming the young trees.
Lots of questions about this one: What are the other differences between the farm vs forest model of growing trees? Does this new process affect the local birds or creatures underground? What do these young trees look like in 20 years? What questions do you have?
From the BBC’s Ocean Giants documentary, watch this incredible clip to hear the extraordinary and mysterious song of the Humpback Whale. Why do they sing (or hum)? Does it serve a purpose? Are they making music for pleasure? Are they talking?