For all our attempts to find it on other worlds, water may not be the most essential molecule for life, a new study suggests. A protein that brings oxygen to muscle can function without it, using a synthetic polymer in its place.
LiquiGlide, developed by a team at MIT's Varanasi Research Group, is a surface coating that liberates the notoriously non-Newtonian fluid ketchup from its glass- or plastic-walled prison. The research came in second in MIT's $100K Entrepreneurship Challenge, and is almost certainly destined for a bottle near you. Watch its graceful performance below in a video from Fast Co.Exist.
Fire ants might be infuriating little beasts, an invasive species we'd all be pleased to see banished to its native Brazil, but it turns out a fire ant colony has some pretty amazing properties. In groups, they knit together, more like a fabric than anything else, and are waterproof, totally flexible, and nearly indestructible. A mechanical engineer describes these groups as behaving like a thick liquid.
Fluid dynamics generally lends itself to the study of fluids themselves, but by revisiting the theories of an 18th-century scientist, researchers have found that studying invisible barriers that form between moving fluids may be far more enlightening than studying the actual fluids. Governing the movements of everything from the oceans to the air flow over a wing, so-called Lagrangian coherent structures are the "skeletons of the sea and air," and are changing the way scientists understand and apply fluid dynamics, according to a report in the Economist.