Robots Could One Day Have Gecko Ears

Shine a light in a gecko’s ear, and you’ll see light coming out the other side. This quirk of biology may one day give us robots that can amplify and locate sounds without requiring any energy to do so. Read More >>

‘Chopsticks of Light’ Reveal What Makes Spider Silk So Stretchy

Spider silk is nature’s Kevlar. It’s stronger than steel, it’s waterproof, and you can stretch it as much as 30 to 40 per cent before it snaps. Now biophysicists at Johns Hopkins University think they know the secret to spider silk’s remarkable elasticity: protein threads that serve as stretchy “superstrings.” The researchers describe their work in a recent paper in the journal Nano Letters. Read More >>

3D-Printed Gel Folds Almost Exactly Like a Real Baby Human Brain

Foetal brains begin to fold around the midpoint of the third trimester, but little is known about the actual process. A new model, in which a hunk of gel was made to swell in a liquid bath, shows how it happens in surprisingly accurate detail. Read More >>

Your Supercar Has Nothing On This Tiny Chameleon’s Tongue

Rhampholeon spinosus, a lumpy-nosed chameleon that can fit on the tip of your thumb, doesn’t exactly inspire awe at first sight. But don’t let its size fool you: in one respect, this little lizard is among the most powerful machines on Earth. It’s got a tongue that moves like a supercar. Read More >>

The World’s First Look Inside an Intact Brittle Star

Brittle stars have a bit more in common with starfish that giant, luminous balls of gas. These organisms look like starfish but with tentacles, and they’re dubbed “brittle” because they’re so delicate—when they’re dissected, scientists can document what they find, but they can’t preserve the sample. It’s a one-time event. Read More >>