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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
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,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Video: Why Insect Wings Don't Fracture
23 August 2012 12:20 pm
How can an insect's gossamer wings survive the stresses of flexing, twisting, bending, and flapping millions of times? Tests similar to those used to analyze aircraft parts reveal that the secret lies in the wings’ veins. Researchers mounted sections from the rear wings of lab-raised desert locusts—Schistocerca gregaria, an insect pest famed for migrations lasting several days and covering several thousand kilometers—into tiny frames and stretched the wings until they cracked (see video). Unsurprisingly, the membrane between veins, which ranges from a mere 1.7 to 3.7 micrometers thick and is mainly composed of cross-linked proteins, had little resistance to the propagation of cracks. But when cracks reached a wing vein, their growth typically slowed or stopped. Overall, veins boosted a wing’s resistance to crack growth by about 50%, the researchers report online this week in PLoS ONE. Although scientists have previously proposed that the veins might act as barriers to crack growth, the new tests are the first to support the notion. The new findings could help engineers to better design light yet strong and durable wings for small flying vehicles that could be used for reconnaissance, for example, or operated in environments too dangerous for people and inaccessible to ground vehicles.
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