Scientists figure out how to switch stiction and adhesion

Have you ever seen a gecko walking in a wall or in the ceiling? The way they move is quite impressive. They can hold on to the walls and ceiling in a very natural way and they can walk along the walls at ease. In order to do that the gecko uses two properties: stiction…

It’s not just a pretty face! Ducklings might be capable of abstract thoughts

The capability of abstract thought is one of the characteristics that we, humans, want to believe it’s distinguishable in our species. Nevertheless, a recent research developed at Oxford University reveals that newborn ducklings can also be abstract thinkers. We’ve already known that some animals, such as parrots, apes, pigeons and even honey bees, were able…

What is fingerprinting and how quantum mechanics can improve it

If you are a fan of police procedure series such as CSI, Law and Order, and others you are probably very aware of the importance of our fingerprints. They can lead the detectives straight to the culprit and, once he is caught, they can secure his (or her) arrest and conviction. The reason why fingerprints…

Living longer: are we getting older or younger for longer?

Ana Amélia Camarano, researcher of the department for social policies at the Institute for Applied Economics (IPEA) in Brazil, reflects about the fact that more people are reaching older age worldwide. It is what she calls a ‘survival democratization’. In Brazil, for example, life expectancy rose by almost 12 years between 1980 and 2013. So,…

Death is not the end of life, genetic research suggests

Is there life after death? This certainly is one of humanity’s oldest questions and has been the target of several religious, philosophic and scientific hypotheses and tales throughout time. Now, scientists have discovered that at least part of animal’s life machinery continues to work for up to four days after what we now consider as…

What is the link between health and day/night cycles?

All life on Earth evolved under light and dark cycles. In sunlight, we can see clearly, while at night, there is darkness with limited visible light. But more than vision, light cycles are important to regulate our whole body physiology, generating daily rhythms. The temporal programme found in organisms from all phyla is called “circadian…

Ants and birds help to spread out seeds by acting as gardeners

When you decide that you want to live in another place, you just pack and go. This may sound simple for animals, but it is not a feasible task for plants. For the large majority of plant species, individuals establish themselves early in lifetime (in the form of seeds) in definite sites. Their chance of…

What controls how the Earth’s tectonic plates are fragmented?

If you look at the shapes of the continents you’ll see that, similarly to puzzle pieces, they seem to fit. In the early 20th century, the geologist Alfred Wegener also realised that and he was convinced that this feature couldn’t simply be a coincidence. Then he couldn’t quite explain this property but later, in the…