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Concept: Orientation


Migratory birds can use a variety of environmental cues for orientation. A primary calibration between the celestial and magnetic compasses seems to be fundamental prior to a bird’s first autumn migration. Releasing hand-raised or rescued young birds back into the wild might therefore be a problem because they might not have established a functional orientation system during their first calendar year. Here, we test whether hand-raised European robins that did not develop any functional compass before or during their first autumn migration could relearn to orient if they were exposed to natural celestial cues during the subsequent winter and spring. When tested in the geomagnetic field without access to celestial cues, these birds could orient in their species-specific spring migratory direction. In contrast, control birds that were deprived of any natural celestial cues throughout remained unable to orient. Our experiments suggest that European robins are still capable of establishing a functional orientation system after their first autumn. Although the external reference remains speculative, most likely, natural celestial cues enabled our birds to calibrate their magnetic compass. Our data suggest that avian compass systems are more flexible than previously believed and have implications for the release of hand-reared migratory birds.

Concepts: Earth's magnetic field, Bird, Orientation, Compass, Bird migration, European Robin, Erithacus


In anorexia nervosa (AN), body distortions have been associated with parietal cortex (PC) dysfunction. The PC is the anatomical substrate for a supramodal reference framework involved in spatial orientation constancy. Here, we sought to evaluate spatial orientation constancy and the perception of body orientation in AN patients. In the present study, we investigated the effect of passive lateral body inclination on the visual and tactile subjective vertical (SV) and body Z-axis in 25 AN patients and 25 healthy controls. Subjects performed visual- and tactile-spatial judgments of axis orientations in an upright position and tilted 90° clockwise or counterclockwise. We observed a significant deviation of the tactile and visual SV towards the body (an A-effect) under tilted conditions, suggesting a multisensory impairment in spatial orientation. Deviation of the Z-axis in the direction of the tilt was also observed in the AN group. The greater A-effect in AN patients may reflect reduced interoceptive awareness and thus inadequate consideration of gravitational inflow. Furthermore, marked body weight loss could decrease the somatosensory inputs required for spatial orientation. Our study results suggest that spatial references are impaired in AN. This may be due to particular integration of visual, tactile and gravitational information (e.g. vestibular and proprioceptive cues) in the PC.

Concepts: Anorexia nervosa, Sensory system, Sense, Somatosensory system, Orientation, Parietal lobe, Proprioception, Axial tilt


The salient feature of liquid crystal elastomers and networks is strong coupling between orientational order and mechanical strain. Orientational order can be changed by a wide variety of stimuli, including the presence of moisture. Changes in the orientation of constituents give rise to stresses and strains, which result in changes in sample shape. We have utilized this effect to build soft cellulose-based motor driven by humidity. The motor consists of a circular loop of cellulose film, which passes over two wheels. When humid air is present near one of the wheels on one side of the film, with drier air elsewhere, rotation of the wheels results. As the wheels rotate, the humid film dries. The motor runs so long as the difference in humidity is maintained. Our cellulose liquid crystal motor thus extracts mechanical work from a difference in humidity.

Concepts: Crystal, Soft matter, Orientation, Humidity, Liquid crystal, Rigid body, Evaporation, Building insulation


Friction characteristics with respect to surface topographic orientation were investigated using surfaces of different materials and fabricated with grooves of different scales. Scratching friction tests were conducted using a nano-indentation-scratching system with the tip motion parallel or perpendicular to the groove orientation. Similar friction anisotropy trends were observed for all the surfaces studied, which are (1) under a light load and for surfaces with narrow grooves, the tip motion parallel to the grooves offers higher friction coefficients than does that perpendicular to them, (2) otherwise, equal or lower friction coefficients are found under this motion. The influences of groove size relative to the diameter of the mating tip (as a representative asperity), surface contact stiffness, contact area, and the characteristic stiction length are discussed. The appearance of this friction anisotropy is independent of material; however, the boundary and the point of trend transition depend on material properties.

Concepts: Force, Materials science, Orientation, Classical mechanics, Surface, Young's modulus, Friction, Tribology


Guanine-rich oligonucleotides often show a strong tendency to form supramolecular architecture, the so-called G-quadruplex structure. Because of the biological significance, it is now considered to be one of the most important conformations of DNA. Here, we describe the direct visualization and single-molecule analysis of the formation of a tetramolecular G-quadruplex in KCl solution. The conformational changes were carried out by incorporating two duplex DNAs, with G-G mismatch repeats in the middle, inside a DNA origami frame and monitoring the topology change of the strands. In the absence of KCl, incorporated duplexes had no interaction and laid parallel to each other. Addition of KCl induced the formation of a G-quadruplex structure by stably binding the duplexes to each other in the middle. Such a quadruplex formation allowed the DNA synapsis without disturbing the duplex regions of the participating sequences, and resulted in an X-shaped structure that was monitored by atomic force microscopy. Further, the G-quadruplex formation in KCl solution and its disruption in KCl-free buffer were analyzed in real-time. The orientation of the G-quadruplex is often difficult to control and investigate using traditional biochemical methods. However, our method using DNA origami could successfully control the strand orientations, topology and stoichiometry of the G-quadruplex.

Concepts: DNA, Biology, Tertiary structure, Chemistry, Nanotechnology, G-quadruplex, Orientation, Microscopy


This work demonstrates an anisotropic increase in resistivity with decreasing width in single crystal tungsten (W) nanowires having a height of 21 nm. Nanowire-widths were in the range of 15-451 nm, with the anisotropy observed for widths below 50 nm. The longitudinal directions of the nanowires coincided with the <100>, <110> and <111> orientations of the body centered cubic phase of W. The resistivity increase was observed to be minimized for the <111>-oriented single crystal nanowires, exhibiting a factor of two lower increase in resistivity at a width of ~15 nm, relative to the thin film resistivity (i.e., an infinitely wide wire). The observed anisotropy is attributed to crystallographic anisotropy of the Fermi velocity and the resultant anisotropy of the electron mean free path in W, and underscores the critical role of crystallographic orientation in nanoscale metallic conduction.

Concepts: Crystallography, Condensed matter physics, Orientation, Crystal system, Cubic crystal system, Coordination number, Atomic packing factor, Space group


The prototypical photocatalyst TiO2 exists in different polymorphs, the most common forms are the anatase- and rutile-crystal structures. Generally, anatase is more active than rutile, but no consensus exists to explain this difference. Here we demonstrate that it is the bulk transport of excitons to the surface that contributes to the difference. Utilizing high -quality epitaxial TiO2 films of the two polymorphs we evaluate the photocatalytic activity as a function of TiO2-film thickness. For anatase the activity increases for films up to ~5 nm thick, while rutile films reach their maximum activity for ~2.5 nm films already. This shows that charge carriers excited deeper in the bulk contribute to surface reactions in anatase than in rutile. Furthermore, we measure surface orientation dependent activity on rutile single crystals. The pronounced orientation-dependent activity can also be correlated to anisotropic bulk charge carrier mobility, suggesting general importance of bulk charge diffusion for explaining photocatalytic anisotropies.

Concepts: Particle physics, Orientation, Titanium dioxide, Rutile, Young's modulus, Photocatalysis, Anatase, Charge carrier


Natural composites exhibit exceptional mechanical performance that often arises from complex fiber arrangements within continuous matrices. Inspired by these natural systems, we developed a rotational 3D printing method that enables spatially controlled orientation of short fibers in polymer matrices solely by varying the nozzle rotation speed relative to the printing speed. Using this method, we fabricated carbon fiber-epoxy composites composed of volume elements (voxels) with programmably defined fiber arrangements, including adjacent regions with orthogonally and helically oriented fibers that lead to nonuniform strain and failure as well as those with purely helical fiber orientations akin to natural composites that exhibit enhanced damage tolerance. Our approach broadens the design, microstructural complexity, and performance space for fiber-reinforced composites through site-specific optimization of their fiber orientation, strain, failure, and damage tolerance.

Concepts: Group, Orientation, Classical mechanics, Paper, Rotation, Rigid body, Klein bottle, Fiberglass


Recent global expansion of seismic data motivated a number of seismological studies of the Earth’s inner core that proposed the existence of increasingly complex structure and anisotropy. In the meantime, new hypotheses of dynamic mechanisms have been put forward to interpret seismological results. Here, the nature of hemispherical dichotomy and anisotropy is re-investigated by bridging the observations of PKP(bc-df) differential travel-times with the iron bcc/hcp elastic properties computed from first-principles methods.The Candy Wrapper velocity model introduced here accounts for a dynamic picture of the inner core (i.e., the eastward drift of material), where different iron crystal shapes can be stabilized at the two hemispheres. We show that seismological data are best explained by a rather complicated, mosaic-like, structure of the inner core, where well-separated patches of different iron crystals compose the anisotropic western hemispherical region, and a conglomerate of almost indistinguishable iron phases builds-up the weakly anisotropic eastern side.

Concepts: Scientific method, Crystal, Earth, Orientation, Jupiter, Structure of the Earth, Outer core, Inner core


The most stable pattern of internal fixation for fractures of the mandibular condyle is a matter for ongoing discussion. In this study we investigated the stability of three commonly used patterns of plate fixation, and constructed finite element models of a simulated mandibular condylar fracture. The completed models were heterogeneous in the distribution of bony material properties, contained about 1.2 million elements, and incorporated simulated jaw-adducting musculature. Models were run assuming linear elasticity and isotropic material properties for bone. This model was considerably larger and more complex than previous finite element models that have been used to analyse the biomechanical behaviour of differing plating techniques. The use of two parallel 2.0 titanium miniplates gave a more stable configuration with lower mean element stresses and displacements over the use of a single miniplate. In addition, a parallel orientation of two miniplates resulted in lower stresses and displacements than did the use of two miniplates in an offset pattern. The use of two parallel titanium plates resulted in a superior biomechanical result as defined by mean element stresses and relative movement between the fractured fragments in these finite element models.

Concepts: Bone fracture, Fracture, Mathematics, Finite element method, Materials science, Orientation, Elasticity, Finite element method in structural mechanics