'Digital alchemy' to reverse-engineer new materials

In work that upends materials design, researchers have demonstrated with computer simulations that they can design a crystal and work backward to the particle shape that will self-assemble to create it.

New leaf shapes for thale cress

Anyone who looks at their bowl of salad or at their garden can see how different the shapes of leaves can be. Spinach leaves, for example, have smooth edges and are comparatively simple in form, while parsley leaves are deeply ...

Glowing millipede genitalia help scientists tell species apart

Sometimes, it's really easy for scientists to tell species of animals apart—they'll be obviously different shapes or colors. Other times, different species will look nearly identical to the naked eye. In those cases, scientists ...

Screw-shaped bird sperm swim faster—but it comes at a cost

A study by Ph.D. student Hanna Nyborg Støstad has investigated the peculiar spiral shape of songbird sperm. Støstad compared sperm cells of 36 bird species including house sparrows and tree swallows, and found that species ...

Scientists develop printable water sensor

A new, versatile plastic-composite sensor can detect tiny amounts of water. The 3-D printable material, developed by a Spanish-Israeli team of scientists, is cheap, flexible and non-toxic and changes its colour from purple ...

Assembly in the air: Using sound to defy gravity

Scientists at the University of Bath have levitated particles using sound in an experiment which could have applications in so-called "soft robotics" and help reveal how planets start to form.

How Capsella followed its lonely heart

The Brassicaceae plant family boasts a stunning diversity of fruit shapes. But even in this cosmopolitan company the heart-shaped seed pods of the Capsella genus stand out.

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