This week in science – March 10

Mark Hendricks, Science & Technology Editor Ω

Wearable exoskeleton that can enhance your strength

Exoskeletons, such as the one pictured here, may be the secret to surpassing human potential. Ekso Bionics/Flickr Commons

Exoskeletons, such as the one pictured here, may be the secret to surpassing human potential. Ekso Bionics/Flickr Commons

A new exoskeleton suit, dubbed the body extender, has been developed by engineers in Italy which allow the wearer to carry up to 50 kg in each extended arm.

The suit is considered to be the most complex exoskeleton suit ever developed. The body extender was developed at the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory, part of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy.

In addition to being able to easily carry 50 kg, the suit will also enable users to exert 10 times the amount of force that they could apply to an object. The suit is also highly flexible with 22 degrees of freedom.

“There are several possible applications. For example if you have to assemble a very complex product like an aircraft, this is a machine which is very flexible,” Fabio Salsedo, project lead, said to the BBC. “You can lift the panel, rotate it and position it in the right position.”

Find out more: www.bbc.com/news/technology

 

Omega-3s can help your child sleep

A new study by researchers at the University of Oxford have found that omega-3 supplements can help children sleep through the night.

A group of 365 children were part of the study. Parents were asked to fill in a sleep survey about their child’s sleeping habits. Children that were known to have disturbed sleep patterns were fitted with wrist sensors to detect movement when sleeping and given 600 mg omega-3 supplements daily for 16 weeks. The other children were given a placebo as a control.

The study found that children who took daily omega-3 supplements had 58 minutes more of sleep a night and seven fewer waking episodes throughout the night.

Find out more: www.financialexpress.com/news

 

Stopping tornadoes with walls

A new plan has been proposed to build giant walls in tornado alley which would dissipate tornadoes before they form. NOAA photo library/Flickr Commons

A new plan has been proposed to build giant walls in tornado alley which would dissipate tornadoes before they form. NOAA photo library/Flickr Commons

Tornado alley is not named ironically. The region is prone to violent tornadoes that cause billions of dollars worth of damage across the US every year. Prof. Rongjia Tao of Temple University, Philadelphia has a novel idea to solve the problem. Build big walls.

The proposed walls would be 300m high and up to 160km long. The idea is that these walls would serve as hill ranges and soften winds before tornadoes can form. The walls would cost $16 billion to build, but given the savings every year it could mean long-term savings.

“If we build three east-west great walls, one in North Dakota, one along the border between Kansas and Oklahoma, and the third in the south in Texas and Louisiana, we will diminish the threats in Tornado Alley forever,” Tao said to the BBC.

Find out more: www.bbc.com/news/science_and_environment