As a chameleon shifts its color from turquoise to pink to orange to green, nature’s design principles are at play. Complex nano-mechanics are quietly and effortlessly working to camouflage the lizard’s skin to match its environment.

 

Inspired by nature, a Northwestern University team has developed a novel nanolaser that changes colors using the same mechanism as chameleons. The work could open the door for advances in flexible optical displays in smartphones and televisions, wearable photonic devices and ultra-sensitive sensors that measure strain.

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Artificial intelligence is giving scientists new hope for studying the habitability of planets, in a study from astronomers Chris Lam and David Kipping. Their work looks at so-called ‘Tatooines’, and uses machine learning techniques to calculate how likely such planets are to survive into stable orbits. The study is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
 
Circumbinary planets are those planets that orbit two stars instead of just one, much like the fictional planet Tatooine in the Star Wars franchise. Tens of these planets have so far been discovered, but working out whether they may be habitable or not can be difficult.
 
 

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A soon-to-be-published study supports the development of arbovirus vaccines targeting mosquito salivary proteins rather than the viruses present in their saliva.

Arbovirus infections represent 17% of all communicable diseases in humans, causing one billion cases and one million deaths annually. An arbovirus is a virus that is transmitted by insects to a vertebrate host, mainly mammals. The most common vectors of the arbovirus are mosquitos, ticks, and sandflies.

 

The most prevalent mosquito-borne viruses are dengue, yellow fever, West Nile, Zika, and chikungunya. These viruses have been responsible for emerging and re-emerging outbreaks and epidemics in the last years, thus representing a huge global health burden. Among all vector-borne viruses, Dengue is the most clinically significant arbovirus, infecting 390 million people each year with nearly 100 million symptomatic infections.

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The Curiosity rover found seasonally changing methane in Mars’ atmosphere and more signs of organic molecules in an ancient lake bed.

 

To Martian methane, there is a season. NASA’s Curiosity rover has found evidence that methane in Mars’ thin atmosphere varies during the year. Higher concentrations appear in late summer and early autumn in the northern hemisphere and lower concentrations in the winter and spring, researchers report in the June 8, 2018 Science. What’s more, Curiosity also spotted organic molecules previously unseen on Mars preserved in mudstone, some of the same researchers report in another study in the same issue of Science. Although neither methane nor organics alone are signs of life, the implications for astrobiology are “potentially huge,” says planetary scientist Michael Mumma of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who was not involved in the studies.

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