MI weekly selection #103

Hummingbird flight similar to that of insects

Scientists recorded a hummingbird as it hovered then created a 3D model to assess the airflow patterns created by the flapping of its wings. While other birds use the downstroke of their wings to fly, hummingbirds use upstrokes and downstrokes to create small vortices that merge into one larger vortex to keep the tiny bird aloft, similar to methods used by dragonflies and mosquitoes, though their wings are quite different from a hummingbird’s.

The Washington Post

Superconductivity warms up in boundary between materials

Physicists have created a superconductor with resistance-free electron flow at temperatures up to minus 164 degrees Celsius. The superconductivity was found along the border of a single-molecule-thick film of iron selenide resting on a conductive wafer of strontium titanate containing niobium. The finding, if confirmed, would be a record high temperature for superconductivity.

Science News

ESA’s Goce mission helps create map of ocean circulation

A map that tracks the speed and circulation of global ocean currents has been developed by scientists using information from satellites, in particular the European Space Agency’s Goce mission, which used sensitive instruments to pick up subtle changes in Earth’s gravity. Scientists used Goce’s observations to build a view of Earth’s oceans as a “geoid,” the shape they would take if no winds, currents or tides moved them. With the map, researchers say they can add in sea temperature data to determine how much energy the oceans use to move.


Genome of northern European centipede is sequenced

Strigamia maritima, a northern European centipede that lives underground, seems to have lost the genes for light receptors and circadian rhythm, according to scientists who have mapped its genome. The team of 106 researchers found that the creature has about 15,000 genes.


Astronomers Measure Distance to Eye of Sauron

A team of astronomers has developed a new method for determining precise distances to very distant galaxies and used it to accurately measure the distance to a nearby galaxy called NGC 4151, a crucial anchor to calibrate various techniques to estimate black hole masses. A ring plays a crucial role in this measurement.


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