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Smore Science Digest

A biweekly science newsletter for kids
Edition 7 | Aug 1,2022 – Aug 15,2022

Trending News

Dog-like robot learns to walk in an hour

The robot dog that learns to walk
The robot dog that learns to walk, Credit: Felix Ruppert, Dynamic Locomotion Group at MPI-IS

Many animals are born with the muscle coordination needed to walk. However, newborns take time to precisely coordinate these muscles. Scientists at MPI-IS have made a robot with four legs. In its first attempts at walking, the robot stumbles, like a newborn. A computer program acts as its virtual spinal cord. In an hour, the program optimizes the robot’s movements from data received from stumbling. The robot uses this data to correct its gait and learns to walk. This research can decode the journey of an animal from the stumbles to the strolls. 

James Webb follows up with a picture from the ‘neighbourhood’

An image of Jupiter taken by JWST
An image of Jupiter taken by JWST, Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/B. Holler and J. Stansberry (STScI)

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) stays in the spotlight, as its deep-field images of distant galaxies have been followed up by images of something closer to home. Images of Jupiter that were taken while the instruments were being tested have been released. These images show the Giant Red Spot, a storm the size of two Earths. One of Jupiter’s moons, Europa, is also visible to the left of Jupiter. With such detailed images, JWST will be vital for newer studies in space.

STEM Challenge

Fabric strength test

One of the key parameters in determining the quality of fibres is to test their ability to carry a certain weight without breaking. 

The Challenge: Design an experiment to find out the strength of various fibres, cut into strands of the length of 10 inches.  

Materials: You can use cotton, wool, nylon fibres, etc. for this experiment.  

Challenge criteria: You need to (1) make an adjustable load, from which you can add or take materials out, and (2) Find a strong support platform on which to tie the strand of fibre that will hold it along with the load.  

No comparison is complete without valid data. Record your data as neatly as possible as you go.  

Reflection: Which fibres were stronger, natural ones or synthetic? What is the reason for the greater strength? How will this new knowledge help you while buying clothes?

Futoshiki

Can you do a Futoshiki?

Futoshiki

Rules:  

  1. Fill in the 5 x 5 grid with numbers from 1 to 5, such that no number is repeated twice in a row or column.  
  1. Place numbers according to the greater than and lesser than signs wherever applicable.

Previous edition’s answer: 

Previous edition’s answer
Answer for the previous issue

FYI

World wide Web Day

STEM Around Us

Optimizing The Body: What is Apoptosis?

Credit: Creative-Med-Doses

The process of birth and death is infused into the system of life. The events at the very basic levels of life are not different either. Take the example of an office, where there are many employees. They work in small groups to achieve different goals for that office. Similarly, small employees’ called cells perform different functions (goals) in an organism (office). Some cells turn faulty and become unfit to carry out their tasks. The body recognises these faulty cells and, rather than just firing them, kills them in a process named apoptosis. Apoptosis involves shrinkage of the cell, breaking of the cell into smaller fragments, and decay of DNA and RNA. If not destroyed, these faulty cells can develop into cancers or can cause diseases in which the immune system attacks the body itself. Almost 5070 billion cells are killed by the body using apoptosis every day. 

Science Video

Cestum Veners - Venus Girdle Jelly

It is believed that we know more about outer space than our oceans. Oceans hide spectacular animals under the deep blue waters. Colors in the ocean don’t necessarily fade with depth. A bioluminescent, deep-sea comb jellyfish named Venus’ girdle is the proof. These jellyfish look like transparent rainbows in the ocean. 

They mostly swim around in tropical waters, and survive on a diet of small shellfish. They swim close to the surface of sea, and do not bear poisonous stings unlike jellyfish. Watch the video to catch a glimpse of these marine wonders, from the comfort of your couch.

Brain Teaser

Here are some words translated from an artificial language. 
gorblflur means fan screw 
pixngorbl
means ceiling fan
arthtusl
  means tile roof 
Construct a word that could mean “ceiling tile” 

Previous edition’s answer: 

Brain Teaser#06: 21,the series proceeds by adding the previous two terms. Here, 13 + 8 = 21

STEM Careers

Forest and Natural Resources Researcher Ellen Crocker

Ellen Crocker is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. She works on a wide range of research, education, and outreach related to threats to forests and sustainable management approaches. 

Did you know?

Flavor is a combination of taste and smell; around 80 per cent of what we consider taste is actually smell. Without smell, apples and onions taste the same!

Science In Depth

Where Does Driftwood Come From?

Driftwood
You can find pieces of driftwood on beaches all over the world, Image Credit: National Park Service, Alaska Region

Have you ever seen a piece of wood washed up on the beach? Or maybe floating down a river? That wood is on a long and important journey. Let’s follow that journey and learn about all the amazing places the wood visits along.

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