Night Vision Camouflage, Inspired By Squid
University of California-Irvine scientists combined a protein found in a chameleon-like squid with graphene to create a material that could be used to hide people and objects in infrared light.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Engineers at the University of California-Irvine have created a material that they say could provide better camouflage for military personnel and vehicles at night. They did it with the help of the longfin squid, which contains in its skin a protein that lets them change their color and texture so that they are harder to see in infrared light. Combining this protein with graphene results in a coating that can be activated under certain biological or chemical conditions. A paper describing the research appeared in an issue of Advanced Materials.
What's the Big Idea?
Infrared light as used in cameras and night vision goggles makes it easier to see people and objects in the dark, especially since its reflective properties are different for fabrics and materials. Tests done with an orange surface coated with the material showed that it blended into green foliage when the coating was activated. UC-Irvine professor Alon Gorodestsky says the eventual goal "is to create fabrics that can dynamically alter their texture and colour to adapt to their environments. Basically, we’re seeking to make shape-shifting clothing...a reality."
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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