Static Electricity's Tiny Sparks

Sebastian Deffner, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Static electricity is a ubiquitous part of everyday life. It’s all around us, sometimes funny and obvious, as when it makes your hair stand on end, sometimes hidden and useful, as when harnessed by the electronics in your cellphone. The dry winter months are high season for an annoying downside of static electricity – electric discharges like tiny lightning zaps whenever you touch door knobs or warm blankets fresh from the clothes dryer.

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Getting a Scientific Message Across Means Taking Human Nature Into Account

Rose Hendricks, University of California, San Diego

We humans have collectively accumulated a lot of science knowledge. We’ve developed vaccines that can eradicate some of the most devastating diseases. We’ve engineered bridges and cities and the internet. We’ve created massive metal vehicles that rise tens of thousands of feet and then safely set down on the other side of the globe. And this is just the tip of the iceberg (which, by the way, we’ve discovered is melting). While this shared knowledge is impressive, it’s not distributed evenly. Not even close. There are too many important issues that science has reached a consensus on that the public has not.

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Electroconvulsive Therapy: A History of Controversy, But Also of Help

Jonathan Sadowsky, Case Western Reserve University

Carrie Fisher’s ashes are in an urn designed to look like a Prozac pill. It’s fitting that in death she continues to be both brash and wryly funny about a treatment for depression.

The public grief over Carrie Fisher’s death was not only for an actress who played one of the most iconic roles in film history. It was also for one who spoke with wit and courage about her struggle with mental illness. In a way, the fearless General Leia Organa on screen was not much of an act.

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Biohybrid Robots Built From Living Tissue Start To Take Shape

Victoria Webster, Case Western Reserve University

Think of a traditional robot and you probably imagine something made from metal and plastic. Such “nuts-and-bolts” robots are made of hard materials. As robots take on more roles beyond the lab, such rigid systems can present safety risks to the people they interact with. For example, if an industrial robot swings into a person, there is the risk of bruises or bone damage.

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Finding Trust & Understanding In Autonomous Technologies

David Danks, Carnegie Mellon University

In 2016, self-driving cars went mainstream. Uber’s autonomous vehicles became ubiquitous in neighborhoods where I live in Pittsburgh, and briefly in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of Transportation issued new regulatory guidance for them. Countless papers and columns discussed how self-driving cars should solve ethical quandaries when things go wrong. And, unfortunately, 2016 also saw the first fatality involving an autonomous vehicle.

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Antihydrogen Spectrum Indistinguishable From That Of Hydrogen


It's a new, impressive experiment, but the results are exactly what we expected.

One of the persistent mysteries about our Universe is the extreme imbalance between matter and antimatter. Antimatter and matter were both generated during the Big Bang, but the Universe is now dominated by ordinary matter, and we don't know why that should be the case. To solve that mystery, an obvious place to look for clues would be in antimatter itself. If researchers could find something different about antimatter’s behavior, it might hint at an explanation for the extreme disparity.

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Australian Aboriginals May Have Bred with Mysterious, Previously Unknown Human Lineage

Researchers have just stumbled on a new, mysterious branch of humanity that was previously unknown. By examining models which heretofore assumed that all the world was populated by a lineage of humans coming out of Africa in a mass exodus, scientists from Harvard learned that not only did a wave of migrations likely happen instead, but that some of the oldest races on the planet have an unusual DNA makeup. These findings suggest that an entirely different branch of humans once lived on planet earth.

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