UCLA’s Augmented Reality Sandbox

The Augmented Reality Sandbox (orginally developed by researchers at UC Davis) lets users sculpt mountains, canyons and rivers, then fill them with water or even create erupting volcanoes. This version of the device at UCLA was built by Gary Glesener using off-the-shelf parts and good ol’ playground sand. Any shape made in the sandbox is … Read moreUCLA’s Augmented Reality Sandbox

The Science of Folding Clothes

Getting your clothes to fit neatly inside a suitcase can sometimes be struggle, but robotics engineers at UC Berkeley can help you out. They’ve come up with an efficient way to fold a variety of clothes into neat little rectangles. These techniques are intended to help a new generation of robots take on a monotonous … Read moreThe Science of Folding Clothes

Could Cosmic Rays Threaten Mars Missions?

Thousands of people have volunteered for a potential mission to Mars, but if any of them end up making the trip, they might lose a few brain cells along the way. New research out of UC Irvine finds that exposure to cosmic rays during the long journey, expected to take about six to eight months, … Read moreCould Cosmic Rays Threaten Mars Missions?

How we feel someone else’s pain

A neuroscientist from UC San Deigo —V.S. Ramachandran— recently spoke with the Greater Good Science Center about the relationship between empathy and mirror neurons: “For example, pretend somebody pokes my left thumb with a needle. We know that the insular cortex fires cells and we experience a painful sensation. The agony of pain is probably … Read moreHow we feel someone else’s pain

The human skin cell

The purple in the center is the cell’s nucleus. Surrounding it are wispy blue and white microtubules and filaments that make up the cell’s cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton is made from protein structures called microtubules—the wispy threads surrounding the purple DNA-containing nucleus—and filaments of a protein called actin, seen here as the fine blue meshwork in … Read moreThe human skin cell

The gluten network in a bagel vs. a pie

Gluten develops in dough when two wheat proteins found in flour (glutenin and gliadin) are mixed with water. Because parts of these proteins don’t like to interact with water, the proteins begin to stick to each other much in the same way oil droplets come together when suspended in water. As a flour-water dough is … Read moreThe gluten network in a bagel vs. a pie

Sushi Meets Science: The Wasabi Receptor

Researchers at UCSF have pulled aside the curtain on a protein informally known as the “wasabi receptor,” revealing at near-atomic resolution structures that could be targeted with anti-inflammatory pain drugs. The newly visualized protein resides in the cellular membrane of sensory nerve cells. It detects certain chemical agents originating outside our bodies — pungent irritants … Read moreSushi Meets Science: The Wasabi Receptor

Sex, Aggression & Damselflies

Aggression between two different species of animals is surprisingly common. But what exactly are they fighting over? Male aggression towards potential reproductive rivals could explain much of it. UCLA biologists observed and analyzed the behavior of several species of damselflies. Male damselflies typically ignore males of another species when they fly into their territory — … Read moreSex, Aggression & Damselflies

The world’s first sustainable surfboard made of algae

UC San Diego biology and chemistry students have created the world’s first algae-based, sustainable surfboard. The project began several months ago when undergraduate biology students began working with a group of undergraduate chemistry students to solve a basic chemistry problem: how to make the precursor of the polyurethane foam core of a surfboard from algae … Read moreThe world’s first sustainable surfboard made of algae

How One Scientist Is Helping Plants Survive California’s Worst Drought

Every living thing has its own natural responses to stress. When critical nutrients are in short supply, our bodies, for example, find ways to maintain normal function until those nutrients are replenished. Plants do the same. In drought conditions, natural processes kick in to keep them alive until they can be watered again. When faced … Read moreHow One Scientist Is Helping Plants Survive California’s Worst Drought