Featured Clips

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Channeling Animals: Artists reinterpret structures built by birds, insects, and corals in a new exhibit.
(The Scientist)

A silkworm larva swathes itself into a cocoon by secreting a single strand of silk, two miles long. Bald-faced hornets scrape and chew cellulose from sticks to build an elaborate paper colony, while a solitary female organ-pipe wasp braids balls of mud into a tubular nest to nourish her young…A new exhibit draws parallels between these activities and the work of artists who fashion wood, clay, or fibers into expressive forms.



Resilient Shores: After Sandy, climate scientists and architects explore how to co-exist with rising tides
(Discovery: Research at Princeton)

To plan for future flood risks, Princeton climate scientists are using mathematical models of hurricanes to predict storm surge levels over the next century, taking into account the effects of sea level rise at different locations. Four design teams — from Princeton, Harvard University, the City College of New York and the University of Pennsylvania — are using these projections to guide resilience plans for specific sites along the coast: Atlantic City; Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island; New York City’s Jamaica Bay; and Norfolk, Virginia.



Mollusk Mockup: Researchers develop a “micro-scallop” meant to glide through biological fluids by opening and closing a pair of silicone shells.
(The Scientist)

…the physical properties of blood and other bodily fluids differ dramatically from those of water, says Peer Fischer…In their quest to design micro- and nanomachines for applications such as drug delivery and diagnostics, Fischer and his team recently revisited the scallop theorem. They reasoned that in a non-Newtonian fluid such as blood, reciprocal motion—like the opening and closing of a scallop’s shell—might actually allow a small body to swim.


Illustration by Adam Labuen

Biting Into the Bizarre: Moray eels show there’s more than one way to snag a snack in the ocean.
(UC Santa Cruz Science Notes)

A moray eel slinks about his tank. He’s a bundle of muscle as thick as a human arm, covered with scaleless skin mottled beige and brown. His sole appendage, a dorsal fin, flaps from side to side as he swims in a sinuous wave. Every few seconds, he parts his jaws to breathe, revealing pointy, witch-like teeth. He withdraws into his den, a segment of PVC pipe—surely a second-rate substitute for the coral crevice on the seafloor where he used to live. He folds himself into half of his 3-foot length to settle in.




Soay sheep

Wild sheep show benefits of putting up with parasites
(Princeton University)

In the first evidence that natural selection favors an individual’s infection tolerance, researchers from Princeton University and the University of Edinburgh have found that an animal’s ability to endure an internal parasite strongly influences its reproductive success. The finding could provide the groundwork for boosting the resilience of humans and livestock to infection.



Image credits: Molly Sharlach, Guy Nordenson/Matilda Luk/Princeton University, Alejandro Posada/MPI-IS, Adam Labuen, Arpat Ozgul