MI weekly selection #51

Credit: Nick Hobgood / Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Nick Hobgood / Wikimedia Commons

Specially shaped snouts help seahorses sneak up on their prey

Seahorses have a nose for prey; their unique snouts are shaped to create very little disturbance in the water, allowing them to stealthily pounce on their intended meal, according to a study published in Nature Communications. “The seahorse is one [of] the slowest swimming fish we know of, but it’s able to capture prey that swim at incredible speeds,” said study author Brad Gemmell. Using holography, Gemmell and his team filmed seahorses as they stalked and captured their prey, sidling up to a short striking distance of about 1 mm.

BBC

Standard vaccine for whooping cough may allow carriers

People who are given the standard vaccine for whooping cough may still carry and spread the infection, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers tested the vaccine on infant baboons, then exposed them and unvaccinated baboons to the Bordetella pertussis bacteria when they were 7 months old. The unvaccinated baboons got sick, but the group with the standard vaccine had no severe symptoms but still carried the bacteria and could transmit them to others.

Science News

Three main reasons why the euro has survived whereas the gold standard disintegrated

The financial crisis of 2007-09 – the worst since that of the early 1930s – brought economic historians to the fore and their testimony has since been much sought after in the ensuing euro crisis. For in several ways Europe’s currency union resembles the gold standard that functioned so badly when it was resurrected after the first world war. An obvious question is why the euro has survived whereas the gold standard disintegrated. In a new paper, Nicholas Crafts, an economic historian at Warwick University, gives three main reasons.

The Economist

Solar cells get down to pop music

Blasting beats at zinc-oxide solar cells makes them perform up to 50% better. According to the researchers, pop and rock music gets the cells going more than classical music, but they suggest that any noise with a broad range of frequencies will produce similar effects. The discovery might be exploited by placing the devices on top of buses, air-conditioning units and in other noisy spots.

Physics World

A new record for terahertz transmission

Scientists in Germany created a wireless connection between a transmitter and a receiver that were 20 meters apart at a frequency of 237.5 GHz. This frequency is in the millimeter-wave portion of the spectrum and tantalizingly close to the terahertz region (usually defined as starting at 300 GHz). The terahertz region has a lot of potential because its radiation is nonionizing and yet can penetrate clothing, making possible things like advanced bomb detection and body screening.

IEEE Spectrum

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