MI weekly selection #24

An ultra short IR laser pulse breaking an organic molecule. | Credit: TU Wien
An ultra short IR laser pulse breaking an organic molecule. | Credit: TU Wien

Graphene shown to produce ultrashort laser pulses

Researchers have discovered that graphene can absorb light over a broad range of wavelengths, allowing it to be used to create ultrashort laser pulses of color. The discovery could mean that graphene, a thin, strong conductive material, could be used to create small, economical ultrashort-pulse lasers used in medicine and micro-machinery.

Nature News

Spiders learn to reinforce web where most prey is caught

An East Asian spider, known informally as the garbage spider, strengthens the spot in its web where it’s most likely to catch prey. Researchers at Kyoto Women’s University in Japan placed flies in certain places in a web and noticed that when the spiders rebuilt its webs, those places would be reinforced. So a spider’s web functions not just as a source of food and shelter but also as a conduit for information.

Science Shot

Sodium apparently plays a role in how stars die

Stars similar to the sun that contain high levels of sodium don’t follow the normal procedure in death that low-level sodium stars do, Australian astronomers have found. Observing a cluster of stars known as NGC 6752, researchers found that stars with high sodium did not swell up and become red giants as they died. Instead, researchers believe these planets may evolve into Earth-size white dwarf stars.

National Geographic Daily News

Ancient Egyptian beads likely made from meteorites, researchers say

Iron beads found in a cemetery in Gerzeh, near Cairo, Egypt, are likely made from meteorites, researchers say. The beads, found in 1911, are the oldest known iron artifacts from Egypt, dating to 3,300 B.C. The high nickel content in the beads suggest they came from iron meteorites.

Nature News

Green-eyed butterfly discovered in Texas

A rare species of butterfly has been found in Texas. The thumbnail-sized Vicroy’s Ministreak is similar to the Gray Ministreak with one exception, its green eyes. Identifying the new butterfly had been difficult since its eye color fades when it dies. Researchers were able to observe live ones to make this discovery and say they can be seen from Texas to Costa Rica.

Live Science

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