Week in Review: 6/7/15 – 6/13/15

June 11, 2015

How the hawkmoth sees, hovers and tracks flowers in the dark
Using high-speed infrared cameras and 3-D-printed robotic flowers, scientists have now learned how this insect juggles these complex sensing and control challenges – all while adjusting to changing light conditions. The work shows that the creatures can slow their brains to improve vision under low-light conditions – while continuing to perform demanding tasks. What the researchers have discovered could help the next generation of small flying robots operate efficiently under a broad range of lighting conditions. The research is published in the June 12 edition of Science.

June 10, 2015

MIT team creates ultracold molecules
Now experimental physicists at MIT have successfully cooled molecules in a gas of sodium potassium (NaK) to a temperature of 500 nanokelvins — just a hair above absolute zero, and over a million times colder than interstellar space. The researchers found that the ultracold molecules were relatively long-lived and stable, resisting reactive collisions with other molecules. The molecules also exhibited very strong dipole moments — strong imbalances in electric charge within molecules that mediate magnet-like forces between molecules over large distances.

Simultaneously measuring position and momentum of optical fields
Random measurements, based on compressive sensing, are used to overcome the uncertainty principle of standard techniques.

June 8, 2015

Nanomaterial Self-Assembly Imaged in Real Time
A team of researchers from UC San Diego, Florida State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories has for the first time visualized the growth of “nanoscale” chemical complexes in real time, demonstrating that processes in liquids at the scale of one-billionth of a meter can be documented as they happen.