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August 22, 2018

Explainer: Locating a gun with sound waves

Founded in 2003, Science News for Students is an award-winning online publication dedicated to providing age-appropriate, topical science news to learners, parents and educators. It’s part of the Science News Media Group, which has published its flagship magazine since 1922. SNS is a program of the Society for Science & the Public , a nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership organization dedicated to public engagement in scientific research and education. SNS — which is free to use — helps to fulfill the Society’s enduring mission to inform, educate and inspire.

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August 22, 2018

Some 3-D printing can leave toxic taint

Today, it seems that three-dimensional, or 3-D, printers are everywhere. People use them in labs, schools —even at home. Anyone can draw an object using a computer program and then print it out of plastic. But some newly printed plastics may emerge with traces of dangerous chemicals, a new study finds. The good news: There also appears to be a cure for the problem.

Shirin Oskui is a bioengineer at the University of California, Riverside. The lab where she works develops tools to measure very small things. She needed a way to measure tiny zebrafish eggs and newly hatched baby fish. So Oskui designed and made a tool using a 3-D printer.

She immersed her tool in a dish [...]

 
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August 22, 2018

Engineers consider liquid salt to generate power

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Radioactive materials make nuclear power possible. These elements, such as uranium, shed energy that can be harvested. But they also are dangerous. They emit radiation. This can harm people and the environment. Leslie Dewan believes, however, that she can reduce risks associated with nuclear power and its radioactive wastes.  

She described how at EmTech 2015, a meeting convened here by Technology Review, a magazine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dewan is a nuclear engineer and co-founder of Transatomic Power, a local Cambridge-based company. “I became a nuclear engineer because I’m an environmentalist,” she says. Right now, fossil [...]

 
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August 22, 2018

Some fish wear an invisibility cloak

Fish that swim in the open ocean have nowhere to hide from hungry predators. But some may have evolved a kind of natural invisibility cloak that helps them hide in plain sight. Understanding how it works may let scientists and engineers develop new forms of ocean camouflage.

Some species of fish have microscopic structures called platelets in their skin and scales. These platelets look like thin, flat crystals. And they are so small that 100 could fit in a grain of sand! “It’s why fish seem so shiny and reflective,” says Molly Cummings. She is a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin. She also is a co-author of the new study.

For many years, scientists thought [...]

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