On November 10, 2019, nine agile mini cheetah robots, built by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), were let off their leash to demonstrate their superior athletic abilities. The four-legged machines, controlled by their human creators, began with a warm-up run across the field in full formation. They then took turns maneuvering a soccer ball. As often happens in games, a couple of the team members got into a skirmish and jostled with each other until they both fell onto their backs. Fortunately, they reconciled for the grand finale — a perfectly synchronized backflip, one that would make even a world-class gymnast like Simone Biles proud!
Two years ago, aerospace manufacturer SpaceX stunned the world by landing its reusable booster engine — the biggest and most costly part of the rocket used to power spacecrafts into low orbit — on an autonomous drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Now, California-based startup Rocket Lab, has come up with an even bolder idea: using parachutes and helicopters to capture the returning booster, or first stage as it is often called, in midair!
Endemic to the forests of south and southeast Asia, the silver-backed chevrotain, or Vietnamese mouse-deer, is one of the world's most elusive animals. The rabbit-sized critter is only known to science through five specimens, four of which were recorded by researchers in 1910. The fifth was killed by a hunter and donated to scientists in 1990. Since then, there have been no recorded sightings of the animals, leading many to fear they had gone extinct. Now, thanks to the efforts and persistence of a team led by biologist Andrew Tilker, the species has not only been rediscovered but also photographed in the wild for the first time!
Unlike early space travelers, who had to consume mysterious powders, purees, and freeze-dried cubes, today's astronauts enjoy a variety of freeze-dried meals, snacks, and desserts that can be commonly found on Earth. However, delicious as the cuisine is, it pales in comparison to a freshly-cooked meal. Though the ability to cook an entire spread in space may take a few years, astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) may soon be able to enjoy freshly-baked cookies, thanks to a newly-acquired space oven.
Most male birds try to attract mates with elegant gestures. Seabirds bob their heads and flutter their wings, while peacocks fan out their beautiful feathers. However, the white bellbird, endemic to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, dispenses with the pleasantries and cut to the chase by shrieking in its prospective "date's" face at a deafening 125 decibels (Db)— the loudest bird call ever recorded. To put it in perspective, that is 40 Db higher than the safe hearing range for humans! Prior to this, the honor belonged to another Amazon-dweller — the aptly-named screaming piha — which has a peak recorded "song" volume of 116 Db.
On Monday, November 11, 2019, stargazers will be treated to an unusual sight: our solar system's smallest planet, Mercury, passing between the Earth and the Sun. The rare event, called a transit, will be the fourth of just 14 transits of Mercury that will occur during the 21st century. The last one took place on May 8, 2016, and the next will not occur until November 13, 2032. However, it will not be visible from North America, which means the continent's residents will have to wait until May 7, 2049, to observe the celestial delight again.
Antibiotics — medications that destroy or slow down bacteria growth — are becoming increasingly less effective as the pathogens find new ways to evade the drugs. Some produce pumps that flush the antibacterial medicines out from the bacterial cell, while others modify themselves, so they are unrecognizable as targets. Now, researchers at UK's Newcastle University have recorded the germs shedding their outer skins and changing their shapes to avoid detection.
Looking for something spookier than your neighborhood haunted house this Halloween? Then you may want to take a peek at some of the ghostly space images NASA scientists have been able to capture through various missions, like the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope.