birds
These Birds Evolved Feathers So Dark, They’re Like A ‘Black Hole’

If you’ve seen BBC’s Planet Earth, you may recall of one of its sillier scenes: the bird-of-paradise mating dance. A female hops up to a male, who unveils a mane of feathers and puts on a performance like a drunk rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at a karaoke bar. But when the male bird faces the camera, things go black—way black. Skip to 2:34 in the video below. This bird’s feathers are so black that you can’t see any of its facial features, just radiant blues on a sea of natural Vantablack. Read More >>

science
These Crazy ‘Living’ Gloves Glow When You Touch Certain Chemicals

Imagine a near future when detectives looking for evidence in a murder investigation could slap on a pair of rubber gloves that would light up when the cop touched a certain chemicals. MIT scientists just created an early version of this technology, and it looks super cool. Read More >>

science
Disgusting Fish Slime is an Amazingly Versatile Material

The humble hagfish produces a sticky slime to defend itself from predators, as well as to hunt for its own food. Now a team of Swiss scientists has figured out the physics behind how the hagfish can use the same slimy substance for both purposes, according to a new paper in Scientific Reports. Read More >>

science
Chemists Just Turned Plastic Into Liquid Fuel

In news that offers hope that human civilisation won’t end up drowning in coke bottles and cling film, Chinese chemists have developed a remarkably efficient method for converting polyethylene into liquid fuel. If it proves scaleable, it could make a real dent in global plastic pollution. Read More >>

science
Why Certain High-End Golf Clubs Make Such an Ear-Splitting Sound

Back in 2006, Nike introduced the high-performance SUMO 2 golf club driver, specially engineered to help golfers hit straighter shots, even for slightly off-centre hits. There was just one problem: the newly designed club made an unpleasantly loud, tinny sound when it struck the ball — so much so, that most players proved unwilling to tolerate it, even in exchange for improved performance. Read More >>

science
Crazy Transparent Wood Could Replace Glass in Future Buildings

Wood is a great material because it’s cheap, renewable, and versatile. But this crazy transparent wood that scientists in Sweden brewed up is nuts. It could replace glass for some seriously eye-catching architecture, and even be used in cheap solar panels or windows. Read More >>

science
Microwaving Rubies Makes Them Prettier

Not all gemstones are created equal. While some rubies are clear and beautiful, others are dull, filled with flaws, and the colour of old blood. Scientists have found that chucking them in a serious microwave can really improve them. Read More >>

science
Graphene Patterned After Moth Eyes Could Give Us ‘Smart Wallpaper’

Tweaking the structure of graphene so that it matches patterns found in the eyes of moths could one day give us “smart wallpaper,” among a host of other useful technologies. Read More >>

science
Now We Know How Many Ways We Can Arrange 128 Tennis Balls

Here’s a question worthy of the ball boy at Wimbledon: if you have 128 tennis balls packed into a container, how many different ways can you arrange them? Answer: 10^250; that's more than the entire number of subatomic particles in the universe. Read More >>

science
‘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 >>

science
Why Dark Chocolate Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand 

We all know what happens when a chocolate bar sits inside of a backpack on a really hot day: it melts, and even if it resolidifies, it will never quite look the same. But what if you could tailor your chocolate to have a higher melting point? Read More >>

science
How Australian Grass is Going to Make Condoms Better

Researchers at the University of Queensland have made a cool new discovery in the quest for better condoms. It turns out a component of spinifex, a coastal grass, could make condoms much, much thinner. Thinner is better. Read More >>