Philip Ball

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here is such a long and colourful history of engineers, scientists and artificers gaining inspiration from nature that one could be forgiven for thinking that all the best ideas have been spoken for. In the nineteenth century, biomimesis was at least as much an aesthetic as a practical pursuit. Artists and architects delighted in Ernst Haeckel's drawings of(More)
Some of the tunes are catchy, some vaguely familiar, others like nothing on Earth. There are more than a trillion trillion trillion of them, all accessible at the click of a finger. When you listen to one of the compositions created by WolframTones, an online music resource devised by researchers at Wolfram Research, you are almost certainly the first(More)
Delicately patterned micro-and nanostructures can be produced without the need for laborious fabrication, by relying on physical forces to organize materials spontaneously into intricate forms. The capacity of soft materials such as surfactants and block copolymers to self-organize into regular patterns has been long recognized 1–3 , and superlattices and(More)
At a pinch you can make jelly from water alone. Syrupy squeezed water could affect proteins and plate tectonics. Water squeezed between two surfaces turns to jelly, US physicists have found 1. This behaviour could affect proteins interacting in cells, sediments aggregating in rivers and rocks moving deep in the earth. Confined between two mineral layers, a(More)
Equations that predict how fabric will fold could be a boon for animators and clothes designers A mathematical theory of drapery might help fashion designers get just the right 'hang' into their outfits. colleagues have come up with equations that predict the number and shape of folds in a draped sheet 1. The equations could be applied to anything from(More)
Semiconductor nanoparticles have many potential uses, but it's neither easy not cheap to make them. A new approach conjures them out of mist. The success of a new technology often hinges on the most prosaic of considerations: how much it costs. That's why a new way of making nanoparticles developed by researchers at the University of Illinois in(More)
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