If You’re Going to Take a Break From Sitting, Make it Count

As you begin to read this blog post, consider how long you have been sitting for. When was the last time you got up to talk to a colleague or use the washroom? It’s now commonly understood that sedentary lifestyles tethered to desks and chairs do not align with our evolutionary history and do not preserve our health. We are advised to take breaks—stand, stretch, and go for walks—but does the type of activity break…

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Self-learning neuromorphic chip

There aren’t many details about this chip and so far as I can tell this technology is not based on a memristor. From a May 16, 2017 news item on plys.org, Today [May 16, 2017], at the imec technology forum (ITF2017), imec demonstrated the world’s first self-learning neuromorphic chip. The brain-inspired chip, based on OxRAM technology, has the capability of self-learning and has been demonstrated to have the ability to compose music. Here’s a sample,…

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The ultimate natural sunscreen

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, sunscreen season is on the horizon. While the “ultimate natural sunscreen” researchers from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) have developed is a long way from the marketplace, this is encouraging news (from a May 17, 2017 news item on Nanowerk), Chemists, materials scientists and nanoengineers at UC San Diego have created what may be the ultimate natural sunscreen. In a paper published in the…

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Science Communicators, Get Your GIF On

By Kat Middleton The first animated GIF I ever made was a flaming red danger sign. The year was 1997, and I’d just started my own graphic design page on the free website-building platform, Geocities. The most popular GIF at the time was the Dancing Baby, known for its appearance that same year on the TV show Ally McBeal. My GIF obsession started as a childhood hobby but has since become a major part of my…

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Stellar’s jay gives structural colo(u)r a new look

The structural colo(u)r stories I’ve posted previously identify nanostructures as the reason for why certain animals and plants display a particular set of optical properties, colours that can’t be obtained by pigment or dye. However, the Stellar’s jay structural colour story is a little different. Caption: Bio-inspired bright structurally colored colloidal amorphous array enhanced by controlling thickness and black background. ©Yukikazu Takeoka From a May 8, 2017 news item on ScienceDaily, A Nagoya University-led [Japan]…

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Generating power from polluted air

I have no idea how viable this concept might be but it is certainly appealing, From a May 8, 2017 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed), Researchers from the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium, have succeeded in developing a process that purifies air and, at the same time, generates power. The device must only be exposed to light in order to function (ChemSusChem, “Harvesting Hydrogen Gas…

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Time traveling at the University of British Columbia

Anyone who dreams of timetraveling is going to have to wait a bit longer as this form of timetraveling is theoretical. From an April 27, 2017 news item on ScienceDaily, After some serious number crunching, a UBC [University of British Columbia] researcher has come up with a mathematical model for a viable time machine. Ben Tippett, a mathematics and physics instructor at UBC’s Okanagan campus, recently published a study about the feasibility of time travel.…

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Material that sheds like a snake when it’s damaged

Truly water-repellent materials are on the horizon. Or, they would be if one tiny problem was solved. According to a May  3, 2017 news item on ScienceDaily, scientists may have come up with that solution, Imagine a raincoat that heals a scratch by shedding the part of the outer layer that’s damaged. To create such a material, scientists have turned to nature for inspiration. They report in ACS’ journal Langmuir a water-repellant material that molts…

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Canadian children to learn computer coding from kindergarten through to high school

Government officials are calling the new $50M programme to teach computer coding skills to approximately 500,000 Canadian children from kindergarten to grade 12, CanCode (h/t June 14, 2017 news item on phys.org). Here’s more from the June 14, 2017 Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada news release,, Young Canadians will get the skills they need for the well-paying jobs of the future as a result of a $50-million program that gives them the opportunity to…

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Controlling the nanostructure of inorganic materials with tumor suppressor proteins

A May 3, 2017 news item on Nanowerk announces research from Japan on using tumor suppressor proteins to control nanostructures, A new method combining tumor suppressor protein p53 and biomineralization peptide BMPep successfully created hexagonal silver nanoplates, suggesting an efficient strategy for controlling the nanostructure of inorganic materials. Precise control of nanostructures is a key factor to form functional nanomaterials. Biomimetic approaches are considered effective for fabricating nanomaterials because biomolecules are able to bind with…

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