Pairs of elephant tusks that are separated during smuggling are illuminating the tracks of wildlife crime.Identifying matching elephant DNA in different shipments of tusks can help scientific sleuths connect the shipments to the same ivory trafficking cartel, a new study finds. That technique has already revealed the presence of three major interconnected cartels that are active in Africa, researchers report September 19 in Science Advances.The method could give law enforcement officials more ammunition in prosecuting traffickers and others involved in killing protected wildlife, says study coauthor Samuel Wasser, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.Elephant poachers kill as many as 40,000 elephants each year as part of an international, illicit ivory industry worth billions. Poachers sell to a pyramid of traffickers, who consolidate ivory from a tangled web of sources and smuggle shipments around the world.But when traffickers are nabbed, they’re … [Read more...] about DNA from seized elephant ivory unmasks 3 big trafficking cartels in Africa
A new type of soft robot gets its power from the skin it’s in. Robotic skin that bends, stretches and contracts can wrap around inanimate objects like stuffed animals, foam tubes or balloons to create flexible, lightweight robots. Removable, reusable sheets of this artificial skin, described online September 19 in Science Robotics, could also be used to build grippers or wearable devices. “It’s an interesting approach,” says Christopher Atkeson, a roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who wasn’t involved in the work. In some cases, it may be simpler to use a soft robot ready-made for a specific purpose, like squeezing through tight spaces (SN Online: 7/19/17) or gently grabbing objects (SN: 9/16/17, p. 8). But robotic skins could come in handy for search-and-rescue operations or space exploration — missions where a user might not know in advance what kind of robotic helpers they’ll need, but where packing light is key, Atkeson … [Read more...] about High-tech ‘skins’ turn everyday objects into robots
Home News Health Insight 19 September 2018 Milks made from peas, nuts and more are taking supermarket shelves by storm. Here's what you should be drinking if you care about your health and the environment By Chelsea WhyteMOVE over cows, there’s a new milk in town. There are many, actually. The old alternatives – soy, rice and coconut milk – are now joined on grocery shelves by alt-milks made from almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, oats, peas, flax, hemp – the list goes on and on. You can even buy milk made from potatoes or bananas. Since 2012, non-dairy milk sales in the US have risen 61 per cent, according to market research by Mintel. There is a similar trend in … Popular Half the planet should be set aside for wildlife – to save ourselves Probiotics are mostly useless and can actually hurt you Cause of polycystic ovary syndrome discovered at last … [Read more...] about Milk alternatives: Which are good for both you and the planet?
By Frankie SchembriSep. 19, 2018 , 2:00 PM As anyone who’s had to wade through the deep end of a pool can attest, water can be deceptively heavy. In the case of extreme weather events that dump trillions of gallons of rainwater over a few days—such as this month’s Hurricane Florence and last year’s Hurricane Harvey—this weight adds up quickly and can devastate structures both natural and humanmade. Drop enough water in any one location and you can actually cause Earth’s crust to sag under the weight—like a bowling ball on a trampoline. In a new study, researchers used this property to investigate what happened to the 100 trillion liters of stormwater Harvey dumped on Texas in August 2017. The scientists analyzed data from a network of satellites that transmit daily measurements of changes in the elevation of Earth’s crust down to the millimeter. By tracking how the crust rebounded over time, the team was able to determine how … [Read more...] about Watch a hurricane put a dent in Earth’s crust
By Jessica HubbardSep. 19, 2018 , 2:00 PM Think back to your favorite childhood toy—maybe it was a stuffed giraffe or a rag doll. No matter how much you loved it, it probably couldn’t walk or gallop on its own. A new kind of robotic “skin” could change that by giving soft, inanimate objects the ability to creep across hard surfaces. The skins are made of strips of electronic air valves encased in fabric or elastic slips—the researchers used Spandex in one case—that squeeze an object’s surface, similar to how a blood pressure cuff squeezes your arm. But instead of pushing with the same force all around, researchers can remotely control the skins to squeeze only certain places, allowing for specific movements. The scientists clothed numerous objects with the flexible material, including a soft cylinder and a stuffed horse. They could manipulate the cylinder to bend at different points and even crawl across the table, while the horse could trot … [Read more...] about Watch robotic ‘skins’ give life to inanimate toys