Flying Snakes Help Scientists Design New Robots

In Physics of Fluids, researchers explore the lift production mechanism of flying snakes, which undulate side-to-side as they move from the tops of trees to the ground to escape predators or to move around quickly and efficiently. The investigators developed a computational model derived from data obtained through high-speed video of the snakes and considered several features, such as the angle of attack that the snake forms with the oncoming airflow and the frequency of its undulations, to determine which were important in producing glide.

Synthetic Tree Enhances Solar Steam Generation for Harvesting Drinking Water

Solar steam generation has emerged as a promising renewable energy technology for water harvesting, desalination, and purification that could benefit people who need it most in remote communities, disaster-relief areas, and developing nations. In Applied Physics Letters, researchers inspired by mangrove trees thriving along coastlines developed a synthetic tree to enhance SSG, replacing capillary action with transpiration, the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from leaves, stems, and flowers.

CUR Engineering Division Announces 2021 Mentoring Awardees, Student Video Competition Winners

The Engineering Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research announces the 2021 recipients of its Mentoring Awards and winners of its Student Video Competition.

Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research Issue Features Nontraditional Approaches to Research

The winter 2020 issue of Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research (SPUR), the academic journal of the Council on Undergraduate Research, focuses on unusual approaches to undergraduate research such as research for chefs and a video game for biology majors.

Neuroscientists reveal the basis of confirmation bias

Neuroscientists at Virginia Tech, University College London, and the University of London revealed brain mechanisms that underlie confirmation bias — a phenomenon where people strongly favor information that reinforces existing opinions over contradictory ones.

The study, published this week in Nature Neuroscience, provides insight into a fundamental property of belief formation that has been documented by psychologists and economists, as well as in popular literature, including George Orwell’s “1984.”