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Scientists design ‘camouflaging skin’ inspired by octopus



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New York, Oct 15, 2017: Scientists have found a way to develop a synthetic “camouflaging skin” inspired by studying and modelling the real thing in octopus and cuttlefish.

For the octopus and cuttlefish, instantaneously changing their skin colour and pattern to disappear into the environment is just part of their camouflage prowess.

These animals can also swiftly and reversibly morph their skin into a textured, 3D surface, giving the animal a ragged outline that mimics seaweed, coral, or other objects it detects and uses for camouflage.

In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers reported development of synthetic tissue groupings that allow programmable, 2D stretchable materials to both extend and retract a range of target 3D shapes.

The team’s pneumatically-activated material takes a cue from the 3D bumps, or papillae, that cephalopods such as such as octopus and cuttlefish can express in one-fifth of a second for dynamic camouflage, and then retract to swim away.

Papillae are examples of a muscular hydrostat, biological structures that consist of muscle with no skeletal support (such as the human tongue).

“Engineers have developed a lot of sophisticated ways to control the shape of soft, stretchable materials, but we wanted to do it in a simple way that was fast, strong, and easy to control,” said lead study author James Pikul, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“We were drawn by how successful cephalopods are at changing their skin texture, so we studied and drew inspiration from the muscles that allow cephalopods to control their texture, and implemented these ideas into a method for controlling the shape of soft, stretchable materials.”

“This is a classic example of bio-inspired engineering” with a range of potential applications,” said Roger Hanlon of Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, US.

For example, the material could be controllably morphed to reflect light in its 2D spaces and absorb light in its 3D shapes.

“That would have applications in any situation where you want to manipulate the temperature of a material,” Hanlon added.

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Lightning kills 83 in Bihar amid rain, thunderstorms

Heavy rain with thunderstorms and lightning has lashed various parts of Bihar even before the onset of the monsoon in the state.




Patna, June 25 : At least 83 people were killed by lightning in Gopalganj district of Bihar, while many people were reported to be injured as heavy rain and thunderstorms lashed several areas of the state on Thursday, a government official said.

Gopalganj District Collector Arshad Aziz told IANS that according to information received so far, 83 people have died in lightning strikes in the district. He appealed to the people to remain indoors during the rain and not to stand under trees if outside.

Aziz said Mustafa Ahmed (30) and Afroz Alam (28) died when lightning struck in Narayanpur village in the Thave police station area, while Krishna Kumar (21) died in Luhasi village and Azim Alam (40) in Nautan Haraiya village.

Ganesh Sahu, a resident of Sheikh Parsa village in the Manjha police station area, and Ajmeri Khatoon (10), a resident of Chakhani Tola, Vijayapura, also died due to lightning, he added.

The dead also included Reena Devi (35) and Rajaram Yadav (45) of Khajuria village in Bakhraur under Barauli police station area.

Most of the people who died were working in the fields.

The injured have been admitted in hospitals.

Heavy rain with thunderstorms and lightning has lashed various parts of Bihar even before the onset of the monsoon in the state.

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Monsoon to hit Delhi in 48 hours: IMD

A cloud cover across the region since Wednesday morning has brought down the temperature by at least two degrees Celsius compared to Tuesday.




New Delhi: The weather conditions have become favourable for the advance of south-west monsoons towards Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) in the next 48 hours, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a bulletin on Wednesday.

A cloud cover across the region since Wednesday morning has brought down the temperature by at least two degrees Celsius compared to Tuesday.

“The wind direction has changed from westerly to easterly. Light rainfall is expected over the area in the next two days,” IMD regional head Kuldeep Srivastava, told IANS.

According to IMD, the flow of humid winds from Bay of Bengal has increased moisture in the air which will lead to one or two short spells of thunder activity and light rains in parts of the region from Thursday onwards.

Monsoon normally hits Delhi by June 29. This year, its onset has been delayed by almost a week.

IMD, in its statement also said that the southwest monsoon had further advanced into parts of East Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, remaining parts of Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. It will also cover the areas in the northern states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

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Children, women, scientists & employees watched the solar eclipse from DST campus

NCSTC, DST in association with Vigyan Prasar organized watching of Solar Eclipse live with solar filter spectacles in the campus




solar eclipse

Delhi: The National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science & Technology (DST) in association with Vigyan Prasar organized watching of Solar Eclipse live with solar filter spectacles on 21 June Sunday in the campus of the department.

Children, women, scientists, and other officials and staff members enjoyed watching the spectacular celestial event and experienced the thrill of being able to witness the phenomenon of light and shadow that causes an eclipse. Specially designed goggles made of metallic mylar film were provided to the individual viewers produced earlier by NCSTC and Vigyan Prasar. The phenomenon of an eclipse was narrated to the viewers in popular form and photographs of the eclipsing sun taken by using mylar film.

Description: DST - solar eclipse2

In Delhi, today’s solar eclipse became visible at 10:19:58 in the morning and continued till 01:48:40 in the afternoon. The maximum coverage of the solar disc was seen at 12:01:40 mid-day. With a little cloudy weather, Delhi witnessed the entire sequence of partial eclipse as mostly it remained a sunny day. The annular ring, also known as the Ring of Fire, was visible from parts of Rajasthan, Haryana, and Uttarakhand, including some northern parts of the country, whereas other parts on the belt of eclipse have witnessed a partial eclipse. Incidentally, June 21 also marks the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and offers easy viewing of the celestial event. This rare kind of solar eclipse also coincides with the summer solstice, the first day of summer. An eclipse, solar or lunar, offers an opportunity for scientists to carry out various scientific experiments and studies. For science communicators, it is a chance to make people aware of the science behind spectacular celestial show as well as to remove various myths and misbeliefs associated with the eclipses and promote scientific temper.

Description: DST - solar eclipse

One may recall that when the Total Solar Eclipse occurred on 16 February 1980, the situation was altogether different from today’s scenario. Most of the people had opted to remain inside their houses to safeguard themselves from so-called ill effects of the eclipse. Except a few science enthusiasts, roads were empty; schools, markets, and many other establishments were closed with the fear of the unknown! Thereafter, another Total Solar Eclipse was visible in India on 24 October 1995 and NCSTC took the lead to organize series of awareness programmes across the country by involving children, teachers, science communication organizations, scientists and common people at large that involving them in safe viewing of the eclipse with the help of mylar film goggles.

Description: DST - solar eclipse1

The situation started changing with such concerted efforts, and subsequent total solar eclipses have witnessed a sea change in the mindset of the people at large. This time people preferred to come out and experienced the excitement of watching the solar eclipse live, although by following social distancing and precautionary measures. Several autonomous institutions of DST like Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore, and Vigyan Prasar captured the eclipse from different locations and organized live streaming via Zoom, YouTube and Facebook.

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