Week in Review: 11/15/15 – 11/21/15

November 21, 2015

Hawker hunters
FALCONRY is less fashionable now than it was in days of yore. But, over the past few years, sharp-eyed ramblers in south Wales may have witnessed an updated version of this ancient pastime. Since 2012, in a project sponsored by the United States Air Force, Caroline Brighton and Graham Taylor of Oxford University have been flying peregrine falcons (see picture) and Harris’s hawks over the Black Mountains of Monmouthshire to study how these birds chase their prey. Ms Brighton hopes to gain a doctorate from the research. The USAF hopes the birds may be able to teach it a trick or two about intercepting targets, both in the air (the speciality of peregrines) and on the ground (the speciality of Harris’s hawks). http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21678765-american-air-force-sponsoring-zoologists-oxford-hawker-hunters

November 20, 2015

New UTA research will automatically check for bugs in cyber-physical systems
Taylor Johnson, an assistant professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, and co-PI Christoph Csallner, an associate professor in that department, will investigate how to automate improvement of development environments for cyber-physical systems with a $498,437 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Strange quantum phenomenon achieved at room temperature in semiconductor wafers
Entanglement is one of the strangest phenomena predicted by quantum mechanics, the theory that underlies most of modern physics: It says that two particles can be so inextricably connected that the state of one particle can instantly influence the state of the other—no matter how far apart they are. https://news.uchicago.edu/article/2015/11/20/strange-quantum-phenomenon-achieved-room-temperature-semiconductor-wafers

November 17, 2015

New form of secret light language keeps other animals in the dark
A new form of secret light communication used by marine animals has been discovered by researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland. The findings may have applications in satellite remote sensing, biomedical imaging, cancer detection, and computer data storage. Dr Yakir Gagnon, Professor Justin Marshall and colleagues previously showed that mantis shrimp (Gonodactylaceus falcatus) can reflect and detect circular polarising light, an ability extremely rare in nature. Until now, no-one has known what they use it for.

Brushing up peptides boosts their potential as drugs
Peptides promise to be useful drugs, but they’re hard to handle. Because peptides, like proteins, are chains of amino acids, our bodies will digest them and excrete the remnants. Even if delivered to their targets intact through intravenous injection, peptides mostly can’t get into cells without help. Chemists at the University of California, San Diego, have found a simple, potentially broadly useful way to send peptides into cells and tissues. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/uoc–bup111615.php

Tough enough: Stanford and IBM test the limits of toughness in nanocomposites By slipping springy polystyrene molecules between layers of tough yet brittle composites, researchers made materials stronger and more flexible, in the process demonstrating the theoretical limits of how far this toughening technique could go. http://news.stanford.edu/2015/11/16/composite-new-material-111615/

UT Arlington work to safeguard cyber-physical systems made with legacy subsystems

A University of Texas at Arlington computer scientist will work to ensure that using legacy components in cyber-physical systems – those that have been reused from prior versions of a cyber-physical system in subsequent versions – will not result in failures due to unforeseen requirements made between software and physical components.

November 16, 2015

Bats use weighty wings to land upside down
In order to roost upside down on cave ceilings or tree limbs, bats need to perform an aerobatic feat unlike anything else in the animal world. Researchers from Brown University have shown that it’s the extra mass in bats’ beefy wings that makes the maneuver possible.

UW team refrigerates liquids with a laser for the first time
In a study to be published the week of Nov. 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team used an infrared laser to cool water by about 36 degrees Fahrenheit — a major breakthrough in the field.

Tough enough: Stanford and IBM test the limits of toughness in nanocomposites
Researchers at Stanford and IBM have tested the upper boundaries of mechanical toughness in a class of lightweight nanocomposites toughened by individual molecules, and offered a new model for how they get their toughness.

Brushing Up Peptides Boosts their Potential as Drugs
Chemists at the University of California, San Diego, have found a simple, potentially broadly useful way to send peptides into cells and tissues.