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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Earplugs in Space
2 December 2010 2:00 pm
Cross a rubber band with a puddle of honey, and you have some sense of what a "viscoelastic" material is. Like a rubber band, it's elastic: stretch it, and it returns to its original shape. But like honey, it's viscous, which means it's also malleable. What you end up with is a material that, when squeezed or stretched, returns to its original shape—but slowly. Think foam earplugs. Sounds cool, but there's one limitation: One of the most common viscoelastics only works in a limited temperature range, -55° to 300°C. Too hot and it melts. Too cold and it becomes brittle. Now researchers in Japan report online today in Science that they've made a random network of long, interconnected carbon nanotubes (image) that remains viscoelastic between -19° and 1000°C. The surprising stability, they say, is due in part to the ability of the tiny carbon tubes to handle strain by flattening out and then recovering their original shape. The wide temperature range could make them ideal materials for use in extreme environments, such as in rubbery tires on space vehicles.
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