Fire Ants Are Dual Natured – both liquid & solid like

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Collections of ants have a outstanding capability to alter shapes and duties based on the demands of their surroundings. When floodwaters hit, they self-assemble and make rafts to stay alive. They will also use their bodies to construct bridges and span gaps. What are the properties of those ant aggregations that enable for this wide selection of talents? New research from the Georgia Institute of Technology says it’s because the bugs are actually liquid-like and solid-like concurrently. The research is presently published in Nature Materials.

The Georgia Tech group probed the mechanical properties of fire ant aggregations by placing thousands of ants into a rheometer, a machine used to test the solid-like and liquid-like response of materials similar to food, hand cream or melted plastic.

The ants were sheared at constant speeds from about 0.0001 rpm up to about a hundred rpm. The researchers discovered that the conduct of live ants was much like that of dead ants: when the aggregation is pressured to stream, live ants let go and play dead. In this case, the viscosity dramatically decreased as the pace increased.

“It’s not unlike ketchup,” stated Alberto Fernandez-Nieves, an associate professor in the School of Physics. “The harder you squeeze, the easier it flows. However with ants, this occurs far more dramatically than with ketchup.”

Ants seem to have an on/off switch in that they let go for sufficiently massive applied forces,” mentioned David Hu, an associate professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “Regardless of wanting to be together, they let go and behave like a fluid to stop getting injured or killed.”

This identical conduct can be seen by dropping a penny through an ant aggregation. Ants will stream around the coin as it sinks by the aggregation. This flow takes a comparatively very long time to occur. Nevertheless, when the aggregation is poked rapidly, it responds like a spring and returns to its original form.

“That is the hallmark of viscoelastic behavior,” stated Fernandez-Nieves. “The ants exhibit a springy-response when probed at brief instances, however behave fluid-like at longer occasions.”

The group quantified this by observing the ants’ response to tiny wiggles of the rheometer. They discovered that the ants are equally liquid-like and solid-like. They did the identical experiment with dead ants and noticed that they are also solid-like. This confirmed that live ants are liquid-like and solid-like due to their activity.

“Remarkably, the observed behavior is comparable to what’s seen in materials that aren’t alive, like polymer gels right on the point after they become a gel,” stated Fernandez-Nieves. “That is quite puzzling, and we at the moment are performing many extra experiments to attempt to understand where these similarities come up from and how much they can be pushed. Doing this can hopefully extend our current mind-set about materials, that just like the ants, are active and thus out-of-equilibrium. There’s far more fascinating work we plan on doing with ants.”

Hu has studied ant habits for almost 10 years. Fernandez-Nieves is a physicist who makes use of rheology to understand the mechanics of soft materials and unravel the microscopic origin of their overall properties and behaviors.

Michael Tennenbaum, a graduate research assistant who participated in the research, also compared the conduct of the ant aggregation to jello.

“Think about when you wished to make the most jello possible out of a packet of gelatin. It will be solid, but additionally very liquidy,” he stated. “That’s because there would be just barely enough gelatin to make it solid-like however not enough to make it fully solid. The jello will be both solid-like and liquid-like.”

Hu has additionally used the liquid-like nature of the ants to study self-healing materials.

“In case you slice a dinner roll with a knife, you’re going to end up with two pieces of bread,” said Hu. “However when you slice through a pile of ants, they’ll merely let the knife go through, then reform on the opposite side. They’re like liquid metal – identical to that scene in the Terminator film.”

Hu says it’s this flexibility that permits ants to enjoy the best of both worlds. They are in a position to turn into solids to make things and liquids to avoid breaking into “smithereens.”

Watch the complete penny video down below:

The research, “Mechanics of Ant Aggregations,” was published in Nature Materials on October 26, 2015.

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Solving the Growing e-Waste Crisis

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Electronic waste or ‘e-waste’ consists of electrical devices or appliances that may be considered non-functional, not needed, outdated, obsolete or electrical products that may have reached the end of their lifespan. With better technology products being introduced, some devices may become ‘trash’ after several years of use.

E-waste is a general term, but it also involves items such as TVs, computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other white goods like refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, home entertainment packages, electronic toys, toasters and electric kettles.

Surprisingly, not all e-waste or discarded devices are not functioning. Some may still be reused, recycled, resold and salvaged, however due to incorrect recycling many of these items are missed and end up in landfill. Any electronic device or appliance used in our homes, offices or what we carry on a day to day basis like cellphones, USBs or laptops can be called e-waste once it loses its value to our daily lives.

Global Issue

We produce a lot of e-waste and the amount created is very alarming. As this trash is sent to landfills, harmful amounts of toxic substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium are expelled into the environment, particularly into the soil and bodies of water located nearby.

Where our e-waste ends upRecent studies have shown that electronic waste has become an environmental challenge worldwide. In the U.S. alone, Americans produce 3.4 million tons of e-waste annually. It’s estimated that over 20 million tons of e-waste are being produced globally. Too much e-waste is being produced each year, but we still fail to confront the problem.

The issue on e-waste is a global concern as each country contributes to the waste level being produced worldwide while the problem is not properly addressed.

Quantifying global e-waste in general is difficult. But we are all aware that large volumes are being thrown in landfills daily where processing of this trash is conducted in a very unsophisticated manner. As a result, this brings potential impact on resource efficiency and the possible dangers to many people around the globe. By engaging different stakeholders and applying scientific systems on the e-waste chain of events, we can start addressing the problem. Involving everyone to take responsibility is a must to fight back the setbacks of e-waste.

E-Waste Benefits

Despite these drawbacks, there may be some benefits from dealing with e-waste. Developing countries are provided access to affordable or low-cost repaired electronics. People are given the opportunity to experience the benefits of technology. Repairing used electronics creates jobs where few opportunities for skilled labor are available.

Some jobs created
Source: Basel Action Network – http://www.ban.org/

Many more people will have access to technology through the recycling of dated technology, but even so, the problem still lies in the production of too much e-waste and too little recycling of electronic gadgets.

Responding to the Challenge

Considering e-waste is global concern, everyone can contribute to solve the problem. Initially, we need the experts to teach us how carry out e-waste repair and refurbishment processes. We need to be informed about the different ways to repair our old gadgets or appliances so we can reduce the number of computers or laptops being replaced or thrown away. Repair manuals should also be easier to understand for the user. Having complex instructions adds burden to the gadget owner and pushes him to easily replace his machine.

Teaching the Next Generation

Solving the e-waste problem should start from the grassroots level. Every household has a significant role in combating the issue. Kids, in particular, should be taught the value of reduce, reuse and recycle for their future. Think about the electronic gadgets that may be available at home such as iPads, video games, televisions, cellphones, laptops and other old, operating appliances. When all these gadgets suddenly become ineffective or another appliance with better functions has been bought, these products are being kept and may already be considered e-waste as these devices are no longer needed or may be ready to be disposed.

working with ewaste
Source: Basel Action Network – http://www.ban.org/

One way to recycle old smart phones as well as putting some cash in your pocket is through a cellphone buyback company like Sold My Device. They will buyback iPhone, Samsung, LG, and HTC phones from consumers who have upgraded to a newer model and no longer use the older model phones. This is a great way to put these devices into the hands of more people and to keep them out of landfill.

Be Creative with Old Electronics

Don’t throw away old phones and gadgets in the trash. These products usually contain hazardous substances that may be harmful to our environment.

You may have a gadget that you no longer use. Instead of getting rid of it, pass it on to others for reuse. Somebody may find it useful. Give your old, favorite device to a friend who may keep it for daily use. If you can’t find any, donate it for charity in your community. Recycling is another option. Think of innovative ways to use your old gadget!

Revivn is a fantastic initiative that helps enterprises with their old technology by clearing their data and re-purposing the hardware that still has remaining life, providing it to people who lack computer access. These type of recycling start-ups are gaining traction, so keep an eye out for electronic re-purposing companies popping up in your community.

Recycling used gadgets
A recycling program set up at a school

Setting up a cellphone recycling drive as a community fundraising activity could be an interesting activity. Many people have old cellphones that they no longer need and just kept them anywhere around the house. The fund drive is an excellent community project as it helps on a grassroots level. Some of these cell phones may be donated to poor communities or traded to a smartphone recycler where the proceeds will go the community fund.

For some tech-savvy kids, learning to repair broken electronic gadgets can be fun. It only takes some effort and patience to learn how to fix the gadgets. This may also be a part-time venture to let old gadgets function again. Xboxes and iPods can be good starting points. A gadget repair project could also be an exciting school activity.

Next time you’re thinking about buying a new gadget, ask yourself “Do I really need it?” If the answer is “Not really”, and your old Galaxy S5 or modem is still working perfectly, maybe it is worth holding off on that purchase and doing your part to reduce e-waste.

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The Golden Beetles That Use Poop to Defend Themselves

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These fabulous little divas look alien AF, however they’re truly native to none other than—drumroll—yes, you guessed it (or you didn’t? It’s not Africa :p) North America. They’re notably plentiful in New Jersey and Florida. “They’re fairly spectacular in the daylight, and so brightly metallic your preliminary thoughts are, ‘This can’t be real’,” entomologist Sean McCann says.

Don’t fear: They are harmless to people despite their “exotic” and colorful looks. You’ll find them munching on sweet potatoes, bindweed, and leaves from different crops, McCann says.

Golden Tortoise Beetle
Source: Rob Swatski/CCBY

The golden tortoise beetle—generally known as goldenbugs—are somewhat of a mystery. In comparison with different bugs, we don’t actually know a lot about this species, according to the University of Florida.

What we do know, nevertheless, will fascinate and disgust you and make you feel all kinds of unusual things. Read on at your personal risk.

Golden_Tortoise_Beetle_-_Charidotella_sexpunctata
Golden shimmery colour – Source: Wikimedia

Let’s ease you in with a enjoyable fact: One thing that sets these little guys apart from other insects is their capability to change colours (like some octopuses and chameleons)

According to a Georgetown University study, their signature shimmery bodies can flip into an uninteresting brown, purple, shiny orange, or even green colour. This isn’t significantly unusual, apart from the fact that they can control their colour change.

Golden tortoise beetle changing colours
Golden tortoise beetle changing colours. Source: Chuck/CCBY

This colour change often occurs after they feel threatened (like when you decide to poke them) or during copulation.

Talking of copulation, one fortunate Georgetown University researcher in 1979 witnessed a bunch of goldenbugs have intercourse in petri dishes. For science.

A few of them would mate for around 15 minutes, which is a long time for a bug (and humans?). However some other bugs would mate for around 9 hours. NINE HOURS.

But here’s where things actually get bizarre: The larvae of goldenbugs are blessed with spines that develop on their, um, “posteriors.” These spines are eloquently referred to as “anal forks.” And anal forks are an exquisite, wonderful thing.

The larvae attaches their fecal matter and different sorts of nasty bits to the spines, which creates a type of poop shield that protects them from predators.

In case you’re curious to see this live (like we were), here’s a gif for all you sick minds (made from the youtube video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BDxjUfyVEA )

Source: TerraNaturalist YouTube Video

To see the full video (much better quality), see below

 

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Review: Revolutionary Headphones – The SleepPhones & RunPhones

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As technology freaks and audiophiles, we have gone through probably a hundred different headphones. Many people use earphones every day. Yet if you were to ask them, or at least us, what is the one thing you just cannot stand about them, you are going to get an answer such similar to– ‘I hate the fact that they fall off easily’ or that ‘they do not fit in my ears quite securely’ or the worst ‘one side just stopped working!’ and most probably you have experienced that too.

Now, what if we were to tell you that there are earphones that fit securely, no matter how fast you are running, or even hanging upside down from a bar? And no, they aren’t bulky like those firearm noise protectors! This is what the RunPhones are all about. We tried them out and must say we were impressed with how well they fit. We ran, and jogged, hit the gym (which we should be doing more often) and engaged in various exercises, yet they did not fall off. The reason is that the headphones are hidden in a nice,comfy, moisture-wicking and washable headband. There are several different colours you can choose from too, like black, blue, lavender, orange and many more.

Win a Free SleepPhone or a RunPhone! For details, keep reading till the end of this article!

Another reason why we love the RunPhones is because they have been designed in a way that enables us to keep them clean easily too. They have a soft, washable mesh or fleece, and the speakers are removable. They are lightweight, yet durable, and their design is truly innovative. The wire is very long (4 feet) and sturdy, braided cord. Moreover they are eco-friendly. The company that manufactures these is called Acoustic Sheep, and says that the fabric is mainly made from recycled plastics (couldn’t really believe that! they are so soft!), and their headquarters are powered by the wind. They are also RoHS compliant.

RunPhones are very safe too. Even though you will be hearing your favourite music, you will still be aware of the traffic around you while you are jogging or running.

SleepPhones in blackRunPhones are not our most favourite headphones. They are our second most favourite ones. The top spot in our list goes to another product that the same company is producing, called the SleepPhones. Basically they are RunPhones without the cord. Yes, wireless, work via bluetooth. The speakers are embedded in a headband that is soft and comfortable to wear even while you are sleeping. (Duh, didn’t the name gave that away already?) They work well with most music players or smart phones and we must say we were impressed with their long battery life. We listened to an audiobook non-stop for 10 hours, and the headphones lasted around 13 hours on 1 single charge. It took us slightly less than 3 hours to fully charge them back again. Its a miracle how such a small device could last that long. The company states that they can work from a distance of up to 30 feet, but we weren’t that lucky. They worked great from 15 feet, but after that, the audio started getting jittery.

SleepPhone & RunPhones
From top left, clock wise: (i) Black SleepPhones with instruction booklet (ii) Blue RunPhones (iii) The think BT device inside SleepPhone turned on and (iv) BT device in hand

If your spouse or partner snores loudly and you have been having trouble falling asleep, then you should definitely try out SleepPhones. They block out all the snoring, and any other noise that might have otherwise disturbed your sleep. We Simply love their innovative design and there is no denying that this is a practical and effective idea for so many people who are deprived of a good night’s sleep because of snoring or other disturbances or noises. Thankfully, we didn’t have the snoring problem, but we do love listening to audiobooks while we sleep, so this is perfect. You can also listen to some soothing sleeping music, but that’s your choice. With traditional headphones, our ears used to get sore.

How do SleepPhones work
Source: SleepPhones.com

Designed by a doctor, both of these headphones are definitely the most innovative product in this line of business, as they solved so many problems in their own simple way. If you are looking for a cheaper option. the RunPhones are a must have. They retail for around $39. But since we hate wires (even if its a long & braided one), we definitely recommend the SleepPhones. A bit expensive, but well worth it. They can be bought for a little under $100. Multipurpose, excellent while exercising, great for listening to books or music if lying down. 5/5 stars without any hesitation.

Ok, time now for the good news. We got the headphones by the company to test for a review, and with their permission, we want to give away both ours to you! Yes, dear readers, you can now win (slightly used, like 20 hours or so, but professionally cleaned and repacked) either the RunPhones (in blue) or SleepPhones (in black). See below to enter the raffle. We’ll chose 2 winners, the lucky one will get the RunPhones and the luckier one would be getting SleepPhones for free! You can share the article and follow us on our social media using the widget below to increase your chances of winning. The contest is open worldwide to readers above the age of 13. (except Israel :( Sorry, our country’s law don’t permit us to send or receive anything from there). We’ll be notifying the winners via email. We will NEVER use your email to send SPAM. In fact, we don’t even send ANY newsletters or subscription emails yet, and don’t plan to in the near future.

GadgTecs: Sleep Phones & Run Phones Giveaway!

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A review of NYT’s Best Seller: ‘The Survivor’ – By V. Flynn & K. Mills (Audiobook) – Book & Share Media

CIA counter terrorist agent Mitch Rapp – the hero of greater than a dozen political thrillers and probably the most well-liked fictional characters of our time – returns in The Survivor, the primary novel in the series to be printed after the premature demise of its original author. And it is SUPERB!

Source: A review of NYT’s Best Seller: ‘The Survivor’ – By V. Flynn & K. Mills (Audiobook) – Book & Share Media