Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Category Archives: Applied Physical Sciences

Laser microsurgery opens windows into fly brain

With the same type of laser used in eye correction surgeries in humans, scientists can cut precise holes in the outer cuticle of fruit flies. The technique, described for the first time in a new PNAS Early Edition article, allows … Continue reading

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How polymer interactions can determine the best routes for many travelers

Discovering the best path between point A and point B is critical for everything from rapidly delivering messages over the Internet to rushing patients to emergency rooms as quickly as possible. Now research on interactions between polymers has apparently helped … Continue reading

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The ants go falling, one by one

For an ant scurrying up a dark, nearly vertical tunnel, one tiny misstep can mean a long tumble down the steep passageway. At least, that’s what happens if the ant doesn’t perform some acrobatic feats to catch himself mid-fall. So … Continue reading

Categories: Applied Physical Sciences | Biophysics and Computational Biology | Leave a comment

Controlling drag with tunable bubble mattresses

Bubbles can reduce the drag that slows ships and submarines in the water. As such, researchers want to exploit cushions of air to help create faster torpedoes and attack vessels as well as drastically cut the enormous volumes of fuel … Continue reading

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Toward “cyborg tissues” with self-assembling 3D circuits

Just as a ten-floor apartment building can offer more living space than a one-story house for the same amount of real estate, so too could microchips that stretch up into three dimensions instead of just the conventional two lead to … Continue reading

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Planets’ magnetic fields come from more complex inner flows than thought

The magnetic fields of Earth and other planets result from their dynamos—vast oceans of electrically conductive fluids such as liquid metals in their innards that roil turbulently due to convection of heat left over from the birth of those worlds. … Continue reading

Categories: Applied Physical Sciences | Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences | Leave a comment

Flatly opposed: Squeezing through a channel turns objects sideways

One might naturally assume that whatever is within a fluid lines up with that fluid as it pours through a channel. However, scientists now find disks, tubes, and many other particles don’t always go with the flow at all, sometimes … Continue reading

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Slow burn: chip-sized power generators could provide alternative to batteries

Battery-powered mobile gadgets allow us do almost anything anywhere: call, shoot video, check stocks, read PNAS First Look until, of course, the power runs out. A new microchip-scale form of power generation could replace common batteries and dramatically prolonging the time … Continue reading

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The mechanical properties of folded maps

The origami trick now often used to fold large maps into small rectangles was developed by Japanese aerospace scientist Koryo Miura at the University of Tokyo, who originally invented it to help deploy solar panels on spacecraft. Now researchers find … Continue reading

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