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Look Out, Graphene: Boron Atoms Form Cages And Flat Sheets Like Carbon


by Michael Keller

Chemists working in the U.S. and China say they have discovered a new molecular structure made out of boron atoms.

They believe the structure is made of 40 boron atoms that link together into a cage, which might be useful in storing hydrogen. 

"This is the first time that a boron cage has been observed experimentally," said Lai-Sheng Wang, a Brown University chemistry professor and the study’s leader. "As a chemist, finding new molecules and structures is always exciting. The fact that boron has the capacity to form this kind of structure is very interesting."

They described their work uncovering experimental evidence for the molecule, which they have called borospherene, in a recent issue of the journal Nature Chemistry.

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Olá Robocup 2014!

Now that the warm-up meatbag football matches have ended in Brazil, it’s time to move on to the main event: Robocup 2014. The international robotics competition runs on July 21-24 in João Pessoa and, though a winner will of course be crowned, the event’s long-term goal is “developing by 2050 a humanoid robot soccer team capable of winning against the human team champion of the FIFA World Cup.”

Go to Robocup 2014 to learn more about the matches that feature fully autonomous multi-robot teams battling it out on the field. Check out the live stream of the competition and see another video below.

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Txch This Week: Recreating Pressure At Jupiter’s Core On Earth And Smartphone Psychology

by Annie Epstein

This week on Txchnologist, we were reacquainted with Don Wetzel, the New York Central Railroad engineer who in 1966 piloted an experimental train powered by two jet engines bolted to its roof. His adventure culminated in the vehicle reaching a speed of almost 184 mph, which set the record as the world’s fastest jet-powered train. Today, the M-497 is still America’s fastest train and Wetzel’s story remains a fascinating one.

On the international front, researchers in Denmark are putting the Danish healthcare system to good use. They have just published a  study encompassing the medical history of the entire country’s population over 15 years. Using Big Data analytics that crunched the medical history of roughly 6.2 million Danes, researcher Søren Brunak and his team examined disease trajectories and followed the diagnostic paths of a variety of diseases, finding links between the diagnosis of maladies like asthma and diabetes. Korean researchers, meanwhile, are busy perfecting the TransWall, a two-sided translucent touchscreen. It allows people to interact with it and each other, and provides audio and tactile feedback to users. The holographic screen was created to facilitate gaming and social interaction.

Engineers are taking inspiration from nature’s planes and creating smaller flying machines modeled off of bats, birds, and bees. Animals use flexible flight surfaces to maneuver in the air, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research wants to replicate this flight method to create tools for surveillance and warfare.

In the world of virtual reality, Brown University researchers are examining the dynamics of group behavior by observing individual participants placed in virtual crowds. Experimental psychologist William Warren says humans naturally coordinate movements with the people around them, similar to other animals that travel in formations like birds or fish.

Now we’re bringing you the news we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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Spotting Sinkholes

by Marsha Lewis, Inside Science

They can be big, dangerous, and unpredictable. Sinkholes can cause sudden, serious damage in a matter of seconds.

“It scares me a lot because it could happen to anybody,” said Tena Cooper, a resident of Winter Haven, Florida.

Sinkholes happen when water eats away at underground rock, creating pits and craters. Cooper lives near a sinkhole that was 15 feet deep and 70 feet wide.

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