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Flow Masters

by Michael Keller

Over the last decade, materials scientists have been trying really hard to keep from getting wet. To that end, they’ve made huge strides developing coatings that so thoroughly repel dirt and water, they seem almost magic. Their secret? Recreating the nanoscale structures that some organisms employ to stay clean and dry and to redirect liquid flow. 

Among researchers’ muses from the natural world are the stenocara beetle, lotus and nasturtium leaves, and the wings of butterflies. The National Science Foundation has compiled some compelling visual examples of natural and synthesized superhydrophobic surfaces. See the full video below. 

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RFID Tags Show Elite Bees Are Made, Not Born

by Michael Keller

Some bees in a hive have a right to complain. Researchers studying individual foraging behavior found that a minority group of elite colony members work much harder than others. 

By attaching tiny radio frequency identification tags to the backs of bees, University of Illinois scientists realized that 20 percent of bees that leave the nest to forage account for 50 percent of the total food brought back.

“We found that some bees are working very, very hard – as we would have expected,” said lead researcher Gene Robinson, who heads the university’s Institute for Genomic Biology. “But then we found some other bees that were not working as hard as the others.”

Read more and check out the video below.

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Last week, we brought you an AsapSCIENCE video uncovering seven myths about the brain you thought were true. This week, we stumbled on this one from Alltime Numbers that puts the organ in our noggin into perspective.

Check out the gifs above and the whole video below.

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Birds, Bats Are Models For Next Generation Drones 

Engineers working to build smaller flying machines are looking to those that know how to do it best—bats, birds and bees. Unlike human constructions, these animals use flexible flight surfaces to maneuver more precisely through air. 

In this 2012 video, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research presents some of the projects it is funding at universities like Harvard and Brown to make next-generation flying surveillance and warfighting tools.

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