Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Pattern


Human artefacts in general are highly structured and often display ordering principles such as translational, reflectional or rotational symmetry. In contrast, human artefacts that are intended to appear random and non symmetrical are very rare. Furthermore, many studies show that humans find it extremely difficult to recognize or reproduce truly random patterns or sequences. Here, we attempt to model two-dimensional decorative spatial patterns produced by humans that show no obvious order. “Crazy quilts” represent a historically important style of quilt making that became popular in the 1870s, and lasted about 50 years. Crazy quilts are unusual because unlike most human artefacts, they are specifically intended to appear haphazard and unstructured. We evaluate the degree to which this intention was achieved by using statistical techniques of spatial point pattern analysis to compare crazy quilts with regular quilts from the same region and era and to evaluate the fit of various random distributions to these two quilt classes. We found that the two quilt categories exhibit fundamentally different spatial characteristics: The patch areas of crazy quilts derive from a continuous random distribution, while area distributions of regular quilts consist of Gaussian mixtures. These Gaussian mixtures derive from regular pattern motifs that are repeated and we suggest that such a mixture is a distinctive signature of human-made visual patterns. In contrast, the distribution found in crazy quilts is shared with many other naturally occurring spatial patterns. Centroids of patches in the two quilt classes are spaced differently and in general, crazy quilts but not regular quilts are well-fitted by a random Strauss process. These results indicate that, within the constraints of the quilt format, Victorian quilters indeed achieved their goal of generating random structures.

Concepts: Statistics, Symmetry, Mixture, Pattern, Rotational symmetry, Pattern matching, Quilting, Quilt


Hierarchical control of two-dimensional (2D) molecular alignment patterns over large areas is essential for designing high-functional organic materials and devices. However, even by the most powerful current methods, dye molecules that discolor and destabilize the materials need to be doped in, complicating the process. We present a dye-free alignment patterning technique, based on a scanning wave photopolymerization (SWaP) concept, that achieves a spatial light-triggered mass flow to direct molecular order using scanning light to propagate the wavefront. This enables one to generate macroscopic, arbitrary 2D alignment patterns in a wide variety of optically transparent polymer films from various polymerizable mesogens with sufficiently high birefringence (>0.1) merely by single-step photopolymerization, without alignment layers or polarized light sources. A set of 150,000 arrays of a radial alignment pattern with a size of 27.4 μm × 27.4 μm were successfully inscribed by SWaP, in which each individual pattern is smaller by a factor of 10(4) than that achievable by conventional photoalignment methods. This dye-free inscription of microscopic, complex alignment patterns over large areas provides a new pathway for designing higher-performance optical and mechanical devices.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Optical fiber, Pattern, Polarization, Birefringence, Liquid crystal


The simplification of fabrication processes that can define very fine patterns for large-area flexible radio-frequency (RF) applications is very desirable because it is generally very challenging to realize submicron scale patterns on flexible substrates. Conventional nanoscale patterning methods, such as e-beam lithography, cannot be easily applied to such applications. On the other hand, recent advances in nanoimprinting lithography (NIL) may enable the fabrication of large-area nanoelectronics, especially flexible RF electronics with finely defined patterns, thereby significantly broadening RF applications. Here we report a generic strategy for fabricating high-performance flexible Si nanomembrane (NM)-based RF thin-film transistors (TFTs), capable of over 100 GHz operation in theory, with NIL patterned deep-submicron-scale channel lengths. A unique 3-dimensional etched-trench-channel configuration was used to allow for TFT fabrication compatible with flexible substrates. Optimal device parameters were obtained through device simulation to understand the underlying device physics and to enhance device controllability. Experimentally, a record-breaking 38 GHz maximum oscillation frequency fmax value has been successfully demonstrated from TFTs with a 2 μm gate length built with flexible Si NM on plastic substrates.

Concepts: Nanotechnology, Semiconductor, Transistor, Frequency, Hertz, Pattern, International System of Units, Length


Understanding how humans represent others' pain is critical for understanding pro-social behavior. ‘Shared experience’ theories propose common brain representations for somatic and vicarious pain, but other evidence suggests that specialized circuits are required to experience others' suffering. Combining functional neuroimaging with multivariate pattern analyses, we identified dissociable patterns that predicted somatic (high versus low: 100%) and vicarious (high versus low: 100%) pain intensity in out-of-sample individuals. Critically, each pattern was at chance in predicting the other experience, demonstrating separate modifiability of both patterns. Somatotopy (upper versus lower limb: 93% accuracy for both conditions) was also distinct, located in somatosensory versus mentalizing-related circuits for somatic and vicarious pain, respectively. Two additional studies demonstrated the generalizability of the somatic pain pattern (which was originally developed on thermal pain) to mechanical and electrical pain, and also demonstrated the replicability of the somatic/vicarious dissociation. These findings suggest possible mechanisms underlying limitations in feeling others' pain, and present new, more specific, brain targets for studying pain empathy.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Brain, Critical thinking, Neuroimaging, Future, Pain, Pattern


Two limitations of additive manufacturing methods that arise from layer-based fabrication are slow speed and geometric constraints (which include poor surface quality). Both limitations are overcome in the work reported here, introducing a new volumetric additive fabrication paradigm that produces photopolymer structures with complex nonperiodic three-dimensional geometries on a time scale of seconds. We implement this approach using holographic patterning of light fields, demonstrate the fabrication of a variety of structures, and study the properties of the light patterns and photosensitive resins required for this fabrication approach. The results indicate that low-absorbing resins containing ~0.1% photoinitiator, illuminated at modest powers (~10 to 100 mW), may be successfully used to build full structures in ~1 to 10 s.

Concepts: Polymer, Geometry, Rhythm, Pattern, Differential geometry, Rapid prototyping, Rapid manufacturing, Solid freeform fabrication


Vegetation gap patterns in arid grasslands, such as the “fairy circles” of Namibia, are one of nature’s greatest mysteries and subject to a lively debate on their origin. They are characterized by small-scale hexagonal ordering of circular bare-soil gaps that persists uniformly in the landscape scale to form a homogeneous distribution. Pattern-formation theory predicts that such highly ordered gap patterns should be found also in other water-limited systems across the globe, even if the mechanisms of their formation are different. Here we report that so far unknown fairy circles with the same spatial structure exist 10,000 km away from Namibia in the remote outback of Australia. Combining fieldwork, remote sensing, spatial pattern analysis, and process-based mathematical modeling, we demonstrate that these patterns emerge by self-organization, with no correlation with termite activity; the driving mechanism is a positive biomass-water feedback associated with water runoff and biomass-dependent infiltration rates. The remarkable match between the patterns of Australian and Namibian fairy circles and model results indicate that both patterns emerge from a nonuniform stationary instability, supporting a central universality principle of pattern-formation theory. Applied to the context of dryland vegetation, this principle predicts that different systems that go through the same instability type will show similar vegetation patterns even if the feedback mechanisms and resulting soil-water distributions are different, as we indeed found by comparing the Australian and the Namibian fairy-circle ecosystems. These results suggest that biomass-water feedbacks and resultant vegetation gap patterns are likely more common in remote drylands than is currently known.

Concepts: Mathematics, Systems theory, Feedback, Pattern, Australia, Surface runoff, Namibia, Infiltration


The aim of the study was to investigate the heterogeneity of temporal patterns of vasomotor symptoms (VMS) over the menopausal transition and identify factors associated with these patterns in a diverse sample of women.

Concepts: Pattern


Running with a forefoot strike (FFS) pattern has been suggested to reduce the risk of overuse running injuries, due to a reduced vertical loadrate compared with rearfoot strike (RFS) running. However, resultant loadrate has been reported to be similar between foot strikes when running in traditional shoes, leading to questions regarding the value of running with a FFS. The influence of minimal footwear on the resultant loadrate has not been considered. This study aimed to compare component and resultant instantaneous loadrate (ILR) between runners with different foot strike patterns in their habitual footwear conditions.

Concepts: Pattern, Shoe, Footwear, Semitone, Strike action


Crack formation drives material failure and is often regarded as a process to be avoided. However, closer examination of cracking phenomena has revealed exquisitely intricate patterns such as spirals, oscillating and branched fracture paths and fractal geometries. Here we demonstrate the controlled initiation, propagation and termination of a variety of channelled crack patterns in a film/substrate system comprising a silicon nitride thin film deposited on a silicon substrate using low-pressure chemical vapour deposition. Micro-notches etched into the silicon substrate concentrated stress for crack initiation, which occurred spontaneously during deposition of the silicon nitride layer. We reproducibly created three distinct crack morphologies–straight, oscillatory and orderly bifurcated (stitchlike)–through careful selection of processing conditions and parameters. We induced direction changes by changing the system parameters, and we terminated propagation at pre-formed multi-step crack stops. We believe that our patterning technique presents new opportunities in nanofabrication and offers a starting point for atomic-scale pattern formation, which would be difficult even with current state-of-the-art nanofabrication methodologies.

Concepts: Chemical vapor deposition, Pattern, Thin film, Silicon nitride, Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition


The study of how long-term changes affect metacommunities is a relevant topic, that involves the evaluation of connections among biological assemblages across different spatio-temporal scales, in order to fully understand links between global changes and macroevolutionary patterns. We applied multivariate statistical analyses and diversity tests using a large data matrix of rodent fossil sites in order to analyse long-term faunal changes. Late Miocene rodent faunas from southwestern Europe were classified into metacommunities, presumably sharing ecological affinities, which followed temporal and environmental non-random assembly and disassembly patterns. Metacommunity dynamics of these faunas were driven by environmental changes associated with temperature variability, but there was also some influence from the aridity shifts described for this region during the late Miocene. Additionally, while variations in the structure of rodent assemblages were directly influenced by global climatic changes in the southern province, the northern sites showed a pattern of climatic influence mediated by diversity-dependent processes.

Concepts: Statistics, Mathematics, Ecology, Multivariate statistics, Climate change, Europe, Pattern, Miocene