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

Concept: Rotation


Ants can navigate over long distances between their nest and food sites using visual cues [1, 2]. Recent studies show that this capacity is undiminished when walking backward while dragging a heavy food item [3-5]. This challenges the idea that ants use egocentric visual memories of the scene for guidance [1, 2, 6]. Can ants use their visual memories of the terrestrial cues when going backward? Our results suggest that ants do not adjust their direction of travel based on the perceived scene while going backward. Instead, they maintain a straight direction using their celestial compass. This direction can be dictated by their path integrator [5] but can also be set using terrestrial visual cues after a forward peek. If the food item is too heavy to enable body rotations, ants moving backward drop their food on occasion, rotate and walk a few steps forward, return to the food, and drag it backward in a now-corrected direction defined by terrestrial cues. Furthermore, we show that ants can maintain their direction of travel independently of their body orientation. It thus appears that egocentric retinal alignment is required for visual scene recognition, but ants can translate this acquired directional information into a holonomic frame of reference, which enables them to decouple their travel direction from their body orientation and hence navigate backward. This reveals substantial flexibility and communication between different types of navigational information: from terrestrial to celestial cues and from egocentric to holonomic directional memories.

Concepts: Earth, Navigation, Classical mechanics, Rotation, Walking, Rigid body, Frame of reference, Drag-and-drop


Phytochrome photoreceptors in plants and microorganisms switch photochromically between two states, controlling numerous important biological processes. Although this phototransformation is generally considered to involve rotation of ring D of the tetrapyrrole chromophore, Ulijasz et al. (2010, Nature 463, 250-254) proposed that the A-ring rotates instead. Here, we apply MAS NMR to the two parent states of following studies of the 23-kDa GAF-domain fragment of phytochrome from Synechococcus OS-B'. Major changes occur at the A-ring covalent linkage to the protein as well as at the protein residue contact of ring D. Conserved contacts associated with the A-ring nitrogen rule out an A-ring photoflip, whereas loss of contact of the D-ring nitrogen to the protein implies movement of ring D. Although none of the methine bridges showed a chemical shift change comparable to those characteristic of the D-ring photoflip in canonical phytochromes, denaturation experiments showed conclusively that the same occurs in Synechococcus OS-B' phytochrome upon photoconversion. The results are consistent with the D-ring being strongly tilted in both states and the C15=C16 double bond undergoing a Z/E isomerization upon light absorption. More subtle changes are associated with the A-ring linkage to the protein. Our findings thus disprove A-ring rotation and are discussed in relation to the position of the D-ring, photoisomerization and photochromicity in the phytochrome family.

Concepts: Protein, Oxygen, Metabolism, Nitrogen, Group, Absorption, Covalent bond, Rotation


The response to haloperidol as a first-line neuroleptic and the pattern of neuroleptic rotation after haloperidol failure have not been well defined in palliative care. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of haloperidol as a first-line neuroleptic and the predictors associated with the need to rotate to a second neuroleptic.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Palliative care, Frequency, Rotation, Haloperidol, Equator


Self-propelled bacteria can be integrated into synthetic micromachines and act as biological propellers. So far, proposed designs suffer from low reproducibility, large noise levels or lack of tunability. Here we demonstrate that fast, reliable and tunable bio-hybrid micromotors can be obtained by the self-assembly of synthetic structures with genetically engineered biological propellers. The synthetic components consist of 3D interconnected structures having a rotating unit that can capture individual bacteria into an array of microchambers so that cells contribute maximally to the applied torque. Bacterial cells are smooth swimmers expressing a light-driven proton pump that allows to optically control their swimming speed. Using a spatial light modulator, we can address individual motors with tunable light intensities allowing the dynamic control of their rotational speeds. Applying a real-time feedback control loop, we can also command a set of micromotors to rotate in unison with a prescribed angular speed.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Bacteria, Organism, Control theory, Feedback, Rotation


A 3D numerical model of the earth’s core with a viscosity two orders of magnitude lower than the state of the art suggests a link between the observed westward drift of the magnetic field and superrotation of the inner core. In our model, the axial electromagnetic torque has a dominant influence only at the surface and in the deepest reaches of the core, where it respectively drives a broad westward flow rising to an axisymmetric equatorial jet and imparts an eastward-directed torque on the solid inner core. Subtle changes in the structure of the internal magnetic field may alter not just the magnitude but the direction of these torques. This not only suggests that the quasi-oscillatory nature of inner-core superrotation [Tkalčić H, Young M, Bodin T, Ngo S, Sambridge M (2013) The shuffling rotation of the earth’s inner core revealed by earthquake doublets. Nat Geosci 6:497-502.] may be driven by decadal changes in the magnetic field, but further that historical periods in which the field exhibited eastward drift were contemporaneous with a westward inner-core rotation. The model further indicates a strong internal shear layer on the tangent cylinder that may be a source of torsional waves inside the core.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Fundamental physics concepts, Earth's magnetic field, Earth, Torque, Rotation, Outer core, Inner core


When placing one hand on each side of a mirror and making synchronous bimanual movements, the mirror-reflected hand feels like one’s own hand that is hidden behind the mirror. We developed a novel mirror box illusion to investigate whether motoric, but not spatial, visuomotor congruence is sufficient for inducing multisensory integration, and importantly, if biomechanical constraints encoded in the body schema influence multisensory integration. Participants placed their hands in a mirror box in opposite postures (palm up, palm down), creating a conflict between visual and proprioceptive feedback for the hand behind the mirror. After synchronous bimanual hand movements in which the viewed and felt movements were motorically congruent but spatially in the opposite direction, participants felt that the hand behind the mirror rotated or completely flipped towards matching the hand reflection (illusory displacement), indicating facilitation of multisensory integration by motoric visuomotor congruence alone. Some wrist rotations are more difficult due to biomechanical constraints. We predicted that these biomechanical constraints would influence illusion effectiveness, even though the illusion does not involve actual limb movement. As predicted, illusory displacement increased as biomechanical constraints and angular disparity decreased, providing evidence that biomechanical constraints are processed in multisensory integration.

Concepts: Rotation, Proprioception, Hand, Place, Phantom limb, Vilayanur S. Ramachandran


Nanomechanical devices have attracted the interest of a growing interdisciplinary research community, since they can be used as highly sensitive transducers for various physical quantities. Exquisite control over these systems facilitates experiments on the foundations of physics. Here, we demonstrate that an optically trapped silicon nanorod, set into rotation at MHz frequencies, can be locked to an external clock, transducing the properties of the time standard to the rod’s motion with a remarkable frequency stability f r/Δf r of 7.7 × 10(11). While the dynamics of this periodically driven rotor generally can be chaotic, we derive and verify that stable limit cycles exist over a surprisingly wide parameter range. This robustness should enable, in principle, measurements of external torques with sensitivities better than 0.25 zNm, even at room temperature. We show that in a dilute gas, real-time phase measurements on the locked nanorod transduce pressure values with a sensitivity of 0.3%.

Concepts: Energy, Fundamental physics concepts, Physical quantities, Frequency, Hertz, Rotation, Microphone, Physical property


Hummingbirds (Trochilidae) are widely known for their insect-like flight strokes characterized by high wing beat frequency, small muscle strains and a highly supinated wing orientation during upstroke that allows for lift production in both halves of the stroke cycle. Here, we show that hummingbirds achieve these functional traits within the limits imposed by a vertebrate endoskeleton and muscle physiology by accentuating a wing inversion mechanism found in other birds and using long-axis rotational movement of the humerus. In hummingbirds, long-axis rotation of the humerus creates additional wing translational movement, supplementing that produced by the humeral elevation and depression movements of a typical avian flight stroke. This adaptation increases the wing-to-muscle-transmission ratio, and is emblematic of a widespread scaling trend among flying animals whereby wing-to-muscle-transmission ratio varies inversely with mass, allowing animals of vastly different sizes to accommodate aerodynamic, biomechanical and physiological constraints on muscle-powered flapping flight.

Concepts: Bird, Aerodynamics, Rotation, Flight, Wing, Flying and gliding animals, Bird flight, Hummingbird


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


Objective: Solventless dry powder coating methods have many advantages compared to solvent-based methods: they are more economical, simpler, safer, more environmentally friendly and easier to scale up. The purpose of this study was to investigate a highly effective dry powder coating method using the mechanofusion system, a mechanochemical treatment equipped with high compressive and shearing force.Materials and methods: Acetaminophen (AAP) and carnauba wax (CW) were selected as core particles of the model drug and coating material, respectively. Mixtures of AAP and CW with and without talc were processed using the mechanofusion system.Results: Sustained AAP release was observed by selecting appropriate processing conditions for the rotation speed and the slit size. The dissolution rate of AAP processed with CW substantially decreased with an increase in talc content up to 40% of the amount of CW loaded. Increasing the coating amount by two-step addition of CW led to more effective coating and extended drug release. Scanning electron micrographs indicated that CW adhered and showed satisfactory coverage of the surface of AAP particles.Conclusion: Effective CW coating onto the AAP surface was successfully achieved by strictly controlling the processing conditions and the composition of core particles, coating material and glidant. Our mechanochemical dry powder coating method using the mechanofusion system is a simple and promising means of solventless pharmaceutical coating.

Concepts: Wax, Scanning electron microscope, Rotation, Micrograph, Beeswax, Shoe polish, Waxes, Carnauba wax