Engineers have built a squid-like robot that can swim untethered, propelling itself by generating jets of water. The robot carries its own power source inside its body. It can also carry a sensor, such as a camera, for underwater exploration. “This is the first untethered robot that can generate jet pulses for rapid locomotion like the squid and can achieve these jet pulses by changing its body shape, which improves swimming efficiency.” The robot takes a volume of water into its body while storing elastic energy in its skin and flexible ribs. It then releases this energy by compressing its body and generates a jet of water to propel itself.
Google has introduced a new feature on its Arts & Culture app: a 3D-modelled augmented reality filter based on famous paintings and historical museum items. The new feature, called the Art Filter, lets the users turn themselves into famous paintings and try on iconic artifacts from museums around the world. While trying on the filters, the app also provides information about the painting or the artifact. The team behind the project made use of image processing with the help of machine learning while creating the Art Filter. The filters are each carefully designed to make them as similar to the original artwork or historical item as possible.
Parents’ own academic ability and their relationship with their child are much stronger indicators of a pupil’s likely success with the subject than a pupil’s feelings towards their school or individual teachers. The only factor explored in the research shown to be a statistically significant predictor of maths attainment in primary education, was children’s attitudes towards the subject. Primary school children who like maths gain almost a year ahead of their peers by the time they reach secondary school. “Our research highlights the importance and value of improving children’s attitudes towards maths which might help improve attainment.
Scientists have identified the exact neurons that are most affected by epilepsy, some of which have never been linked to epilepsy before. The newfound neurons might contribute to epileptogenesis – the process by which a normal brain develops epilepsy – and could therefore be ideal treatment targets. It is the first time a study investigates how every single neuron in the epileptic zone of the human brain is affected by epilepsy. The researchers analyzed over 117,000 neurons, making it the largest single cell dataset for a brain disorder published. Next step is to study the identified neurons and how their functional changes contribute to epileptic seizures.
The world’s billionaires “did extremely well” during the coronavirus pandemic, growing their already-huge fortunes to a record high of $10.2tn (£7.8tn). The report found that billionaires had mostly benefited from betting on the recovery of global stock markets when they were at their lowest. The number of billionaires has also hit a new high of 2,189, up from 2,158 in 2017. Many billionaires have generously donated some of their wealth to help with the fight against Covid-19 and the financial impact of lockdowns. “Our research has identified 209 billionaires who have publicly committed a total equivalent to $7.2bn from March to June 2020.”
Petco announced that it will no longer sell electronic collars, aka “shock” collars, the first major pet products chain to pull the items from its stores. The collars deliver electrical pulses of varying intensity and duration. Animal rights groups have long opposed use of the collars, arguing that they cause animals distress. Petco also started a petition to have the collars regulated and used only by certified training professionals. The move comes as part of a broader corporate transformation of Petco, which is seeking to establish itself as a health and wellness brand. The company announced it would rebrand in 2021 as “Petco, The Health + Wellness Co.”
A near-complete specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex, nicknamed “Stan”, has been sold for a world record price of $31.8m (£24.6m). The 67-million-year-old fossil went to an anonymous bidder in the sale organised by Christie’s in New York. The guide price had been $6-8m, but this was rapidly surpassed as the online auction progressed. Stan is regarded as one of the finest T. rex specimens in existence. It comprises 188 bones which have been subjected to a battery of tests and investigations. Damage to the skeleton suggests the dinosaur was involved in a number of battles during its life.
The Mario-themed area was ready to go this summer before both were postponed due to the ongoing global health crisis. Super Nintendo World includes areas themed around Princess Peach’s Castle and Bowser’s Castle, with giant warp pipes, mushrooms and floating clouds. There are rides themed around Yoshi and Mario Kart, and an electronic wristband which tracks your progress via a free app. To keep Universal Studios Japan attendees going until then, a Mario-themed pancake shop will open in the park next Friday, 16th October.