Discovering Science

Engineers working on solar cell design at Cornell University have found that perovskite, a calcium titanium oxide, outperforms silicon in absorbing energy from the sun. Due to efficiency of the photovoltaic cells it only takes around 4 months to see a return on investment for them, in comparison to 18 months for silicon solar cells. A more in-depth study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research researches the small areas called ferroelastic twin domains in perovskite crystals. When the crystals are internally stressed these domains appear and a future goal they are working on is to put more mechanical stress on perovskite crystals during their production to create more of these ferroelastic twin domains. The reason they are so useful has to do with electrons. If the electrons in the solar cells move parallel to them their speed increases by 50-60% rather than moving perpendicular. This means that the efficiency of the solar cell can be modified to be even better than it already is.

Science Daily:
Science Advances: Science Daily:
Energy and Environmental Science:!divAbstract

The mitochondrial genome of the coconut crab has been fully sequenced. The mitochondria are organelles found in every animal cell, a cell organ which generates the majority of your energy. The unique thing about them is that they have their own genome (mDNA) which is completely separate from your genes in the nucleus where your DNA is stored. With this research they were able to determine when the Indian and Pacific coconut crabs diverged into separate species.

Journal of Crustacean Biology:

Scientists have found that bumblebees, when they are lacking pollen, will cut parts of plant buds before they bloom to force the flower to bloom early. When it does this the bees will have access to the pollen earlier than normal, an innovation which stunned researchers as they hadn’t expected the strategy previously. Through specific experiments they proved that the bees need to lack good in order to show the behavior because bees with access to pollen wouldn’t make incisions. Further study is needed to understand any other techniques they are using to control plants life cycles.

National Geographic:

Credit: National Geographic

Instead of a traditional beehive, bees of the Tetragonula family from Southeast Asia to Australia have built their honeycombs like terraces which enable them to make spirals, double spirals, targets and disordered terraces. This is based on some fundamental laws of physics which determine the probability of a shape forming, relative to the amount of workers, the direction of working, the addition of new egg cells and their size. It was found that they tended to structure them in the same way as the molecules in crystals. In the past it had been a bit of a mystery however plenty of website enjoyed the images and shared them around the Internet.

Royal Society Publishing:

IFL Science:

Live Science:

Bored Panda:

National Geographic:

The United States Department of Energy has put out a request for the development of a nuclear reactor in space. They, along with NASA and the Idaho National Laboratory, are looking for designs of power facilities on the Moon and Mars which will use them. The future reactor will be sent to the Moon on a flight system and use a lander for transportation. The reactor must be able to generate at least 10kW of power continuously, it can’t weigh over 7,700 lbs (3,500 kg) and it must be able to work autonomously in space for at least 10 years.


Scientists have found an alternative to cleaning fluids when it comes to cleaning up bacteria. Candida yeast were found to produce sophorolipids, a type of fat, which disrupts bacterial biofilms, the slimy communities of bacteria which stick together for help.  They are a good replacement for cleaning fluids which are either too harsh on equipment, too toxic to reuse (such as cleaning the tubes in soda fountains) or too costly to produce.

Sci Tech Daily:

Researchers at the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute sequenced the full X chromosome using the modern ultra-long read nanopore sequencing technique which measures each base pair of DNA molecules as they pass through a pore.

IFL Science:


Researchers at Caltech have found bacteria capable of eating manganese, an abundant metal on Earth.

IFL Science:


White Castle will soon begin using the robot Flippy to cook food items with its cooks at one of its Chicago locations. Currently the robot requires oversight and will help to speed up the process rather than replace them altogether.


I wrote about this several years ago. For more information, read the article on Flippy.

A Bose-Einstein condensate created on ISS lasted more than 1 second allowing a higher precision of measurement.

IFL Science:

Some Smokebush plants (Conospermum) in Western Australia have begun producing resistant pollen to counter pollen destruction by ants. Normally ants secrete an compound which destroys pollen however this plant has found a counter strategy to protect the pollen on the ants, allowing them to become pollinators. Since it is a novel strategy it brings into question if this is happening with other ant species or if plants are co-opting other visiting insects into beneficial, reproductive strategies.

Annals of Botany:

IFL Science:

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