In a picture: How this robotic tendril mimics climbing plants – Dr Barbara Mazzolai

Image credit - Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT)

Plants move at a much slower rate than what we can see. They don’t have muscles so they’ve figured out different ways to move. One way is through osmosis, which shifts water in their stems to change their stiffness. What you see in the video is a robot actually using osmosis. This is very important … Read more

Sixth mass extinction could destroy life as we know it– biodiversity expert

Image credit - Paul VanDerWerf, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Alarming declines in the number of insects, vertebrates and plant species around the world have raised fears that we are in the midst of a sixth major extinction that could cause a collapse of the natural ecosystems we rely upon to survive. Urgent international action is needed to halt this potentially catastrophic decline in biodiversity, … Read more

Cerebral palsy: studying baby steps could lead to better treatments

Image credit - Paul Eisenberg, licensed under CC BY 2.0, image was cropped

Understanding the progression from the stepping reflex to independent walking could help find new therapies for children with cerebral palsy (CP) – a movement disability caused by brain damage before, during or shortly after birth. A baby’s first steps are a magical moment – an early stepping stone towards independent walking. Children usually begin to … Read more

How scientists are piecing together the history of the moon

ANDY SMITH ASTRONOMY

In the solar system’s early days, a first Earth is thought to have been pulverised by a planet that scientists call Theia. We don’t know what it was made of or where it came from, only that it may have been the size of Mars. The powerful collision destroyed both planets so completely that scientists … Read more

Studying ant cooperation is revealing how brains work together

Image Credit - Antoine Wystrach

By Jonathan O’Callaghan As a child, you almost certainly at one stage spent hours watching ants move about from their nest. Maybe you dropped a piece of food and watched as a group of ants came and picked it up, carrying it home in an impressive display of cooperation. What you probably didn’t realise, however, … Read more