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Scientists invented metal that refuses to sink – BGR

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If you’re trying to build something that won’t sink, making it out of metal seems like a terrible idea. We make boats and ships out of metal because it’s sturdy and lasts a long time, but it weighs a lot and, if something goes wrong, there’s nothing stopping it from sinking to the bottom.

Researchers from the University of Rochester have come up with a potential solution. It’s a metal that absolutely hates water, strongly repelling it and creating pockets of air that allow the metal to float under just about any circumstance. Its inventors believe it could revolutionize ship design and create truly unsinkable boats.

The secret is a special pattern that is etched into the surface that traps air and prevents water from making clean contact, pushing it away. The team says this “superhydrophobic” etching technique was inspired by the natural world. The bodies of fire ants are hydrophobic, and spiders that craft underwater webs use their bodies to trap air and carry it with them beneath the surface.

“The key insight is that multifaceted superhydrophobic (SH) surfaces can trap a large air volume, which points towards the possibility of using SH surfaces to create buoyant devices,” the researchers explain in a new research paper.

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To demonstrate how the metal behaves, the researchers devised an experiment with two seemingly identical metal discs. One of the disks is “normal” metal, while the other is the same material with the special etching technique applied. As you can see in the video, the superhydrophobic metal disc refuses to sink, even when pushed deep beneath the water.

Perhaps even more important for real-world use cases, the metal retains its water-repelling properties even when damaged. The researchers drilled several holes in the disc, revealing that it still floated the surface even when its structural integrity was compromised.

This proves that metal etched in such a way could be useful in the manufacturing of boats and ships, potentially giving them real “unsinkable” properties and allowing them to remain afloat even when damaged.

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Cheekbone of ancient snake sheds light on snake evolution – Edmonton Sun

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The jaw structure of an ancient legged-snake holds critical insight into the evolution of the slithering reptiles, according to joint research from Argentinian and University of Alberta paleontologists.

The “strikingly” well-preserved fossil is of the rear-limbed snake Najash rionegrina, found in Argentina. According to research from paleontologists Fernando Garberoglio and Michael Caldwell, nearly 100-million years ago, these legged snakes still had a cheekbone, also known as a jugal bone, which has all but disappeared in modern-day snakes.

“Our findings support the idea that the ancestors of modern snakes were big-bodied and big-mouthed — instead of small burrowing forms as previously thought,” said Garberoglio, from the Fundación Azara at Universidad Maimónides, in Buenos Aires, Argentina and lead author on the study in a release.

“The study also reveals that early snakes retained their hindlimbs for an extended period of time before the origin of modern snakes which are for the most part, completely limbless.”

Paleontologists’ understanding of how snakes evolved has been hindered due to a limited fossil record. However, the fossils in this study have been crucial in reconstructing snake evolution.


A 100-million-year-old fossil of a legged snake’s cheekbone discovered in Argentina provides new insight into how modern snakes evolved, thanks to new research from a collaboration between Argentinian and University of Alberta paleontologists. Photo credit: Fernando Garberoglio

Using micro-computed tomography scanning, the researchers were able to visualize the skull structure. They could examine pathways of nerves and blood vessels as well as the skeletal structure that would otherwise be impossible to see without damaging the specimen.

“This research revolutionizes our understanding of the jugal bone in snake and non-snake lizards,” said Caldwell, a professor in the department of biological sciences and earth and atmospheric sciences at the University of Alberta. Caldwell is a co-author of the study.

“After 160 years of getting it wrong, this paper corrects this very important feature based not on guesswork, but on empirical evidence.”

The snake fossils in the study are found in Northern Patagonia and are closely related to an ancient lineage of snakes that populated the southern hemisphere continents of Gondwana. The researchers believe they are related to only a small number of obscure, modern snakes.

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Look up! Northern lights to dance across Canada overnight – CTV News

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TORONTO – Forecasters say the northern lights will be unusually vibrant and visible Wednesday night and early Thursday morning across almost all of Canada.

This is because energy from a solar storm is expected to hit the earth Wednesday night, amplifying the usual aurora borealis.

According to the aurora forecast from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Canadians in cities including Edmonton and Winnipeg will see dazzling displays from the natural phenomenon, if the skies are clear.

The entire country will, weather permitting, potentially be able to see the lights low on the horizon. So will people in U.S. cities such as Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and Seattle.

Based on midday forecasts, cloud cover blocking the lights looked to be a serious concern in Winnipeg and Halifax, less serious in places such as Edmonton and Toronto, and not a concern at all in Vancouver and Montreal.

However, skywatchers whose plans are foiled by clouds on Wednesday may not be out of luck.

While the aurora borealis is expected to recede from its peak by Thursday night, it will still be visible in many of the same areas. People in parts of Nova Scotia, southern Ontario and Vancouver Island, however, will not be expected to see any sort of repeat performance.

Anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the northern lights should head to a dark location far from the lights of the city, as light pollution can obscure the aurora. Peak viewing conditions are typically between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. local time, although the aurora can be visible anytime between sunset and sunrise.

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New SpaceX Starship prototype pops its top during test… literally – CNET

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Starship Mk1 experienced a bit of rapid disassembly.


LabPadre/Screenshot by CNET

It looks as though a little re-assembly may be required on the biggest prototype yet of Elon Musk’s Mars Starship

The early version of the next generation SpaceX rocket appeared to fail during a pressurization test, sending billowing clouds of gas and its hood miles into the air at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas test site on Wednesday.

A webcam streaming from nearby South Padre Island caught the “anomaly” that occurred at 3:27 p.m. Central Time.

A more distant view catches the sizable hood falling back to the ground:

“The purpose of today’s test was to pressurize systems to the max, so the outcome was not completely unexpected,” a SpaceX spokesperson told CNET. “There were no injuries, nor is this a serious setback.”

Fortunately, SpaceX also has another prototype – “Mk2” – at its Florida facilities, so we may still see the next phase of Starship development soon.   

On Twitter, Musk said SpaceX will take the opportunity to move on to its next iteration, “Mk3,” which he says will have a more advanced flight design.

It’s important to remember this in no way dooms Starship’s development and it’s not clear how much it may set the program back, if at all. It seems, however, that Mk1 is pretty much old news now with a SpaceX spokesperson telling CNET ” the decision had already been made to not fly this test article and the team is focused on the Mk3 builds, which are designed for orbit.”

The previous single-engine prototype, dubbed “Starhopper,” successfully performed a few very short hops, topping out at 150 meters (492 feet) earlier this year.  


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SpaceX aces Starhopper rocket test

2:41

Updated 4:22 p.m. PT: Adds comment from SpaceX spokesperson.

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