Just a bit of water enables one to turn a pile of dry sand into a spectacular sandcastle. Too much water however will destabilize the material, as is seen in landslides. Here we investigated the stability of wet sand columns to account for the maximum height of sandcastles. We find that the columns become unstable to elastic buckling under their own weight. This allows to account for the maximum height of the sand column; it is found to increase as the 2/3 power of the base radius of the column. Measuring the elastic modulus of the wet sand, we find that the optimum strength is achieved at a very low liquid volume fraction of about 1%. Knowing the modulus we can quantitatively account for the measured sandcastle heights.
Hippocampal volume increase in response to aerobic exercise has been consistently observed in animal models. However, the evidence from human studies is equivocal. We undertook a systematic review to identify all controlled trials examining the effect of aerobic exercise on the hippocampal volumes in humans, and applied meta-analytic techniques to determine if aerobic exercise resulted in volumetric increases. We also sought to establish how volume changes differed in relation to unilateral measures of left/right hippocampal volume, and across the lifespan. A systematic search identified 4398 articles, of which 14 were eligible for inclusion in the primary analysis. A random-effects meta-analysis showed no significant effect of aerobic exercise on total hippocampal volume across the 737 participants. However, aerobic exercise had significant positive effects on left hippocampal volume in comparison to control conditions. Post-hoc analyses indicated effects were driven through exercise preventing the volumetric decreases which occur over time. These results provide meta-analytic evidence for exercise-induced volumetric retention in the left hippocampus. Aerobic exercise interventions may be useful for preventing age-related hippocampal deterioration and maintaining neuronal health.
Fibroglandular tissue may mask breast cancers, thereby reducing the sensitivity of mammography. Here, we investigate methods for identification of women at high risk of a masked tumor, who could benefit from additional imaging.
Reconfigurable devices, whose shape can be drastically altered, are central to expandable shelters, deployable space structures, reversible encapsulation systems and medical tools and robots. All these applications require structures whose shape can be actively controlled, both for deployment and to conform to the surrounding environment. While most current reconfigurable designs are application specific, here we present a mechanical metamaterial with tunable shape, volume and stiffness. Our approach exploits a simple modular origami-like design consisting of rigid faces and hinges, which are connected to form a periodic structure consisting of extruded cubes. We show both analytically and experimentally that the transformable metamaterial has three degrees of freedom, which can be actively deformed into numerous specific shapes through embedded actuation. The proposed metamaterial can be used to realize transformable structures with arbitrary architectures, highlighting a robust strategy for the design of reconfigurable devices over a wide range of length scales.
The dynamic indentation behaviors of monolithic silica nanofoams of various porosities are investigated. When the pore size is on the nm scale, as the porosity increases, despite the decrease in mass density, the resistance offered by silica nanofoam to dynamic indentation is maintained at a high level, higher than the resistance of solid silica or regular porous silica. This phenomenon is related to the fast collapse of nanocells, which produces a locally hardened region and significantly increases the volume of material involved in impact energy dissipation.
Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) typically requires painful blood drawn from patients. We propose a painless and minimally-invasive alternative for TDM using hollow microneedles suitable to extract extremely small volumes (<1 nL) of interstitial fluid to measure drug concentrations. The inner lumen of a microneedle is functionalized to be used as a micro-reactor during sample collection to trap and bind target drug candidates during extraction, without requirements of sample transfer. An optofluidic device is integrated with this microneedle to rapidly quantify drug analytes with high sensitivity using a straightforward absorbance scheme. Vancomycin is currently detected by using volumes ranging between 50-100 μL with a limit of detection (LoD) of 1.35 μM. The proposed microneedle-optofluidic biosensor can detect vancomycin with a sample volume of 0.6 nL and a LoD of <100 nM, validating this painless point of care system with significant potential to reduce healthcare costs and patients suffering.
Lakes are key components of biogeochemical and ecological processes, thus knowledge about their distribution, volume and residence time is crucial in understanding their properties and interactions within the Earth system. However, global information is scarce and inconsistent across spatial scales and regions. Here we develop a geo-statistical model to estimate the volume of global lakes with a surface area of at least 10 ha based on the surrounding terrain information. Our spatially resolved database shows 1.42 million individual polygons of natural lakes with a total surface area of 2.67 × 10(6) km(2) (1.8% of global land area), a total shoreline length of 7.2 × 10(6) km (about four times longer than the world’s ocean coastline) and a total volume of 181.9 × 10(3) km(3) (0.8% of total global non-frozen terrestrial water stocks). We also compute mean and median hydraulic residence times for all lakes to be 1,834 days and 456 days, respectively.
When lightning strikes soil, it may generate a cylindrical tube of glass known as a fulgurite. The morphology of a fulgurite is ultimately a consequence of the energy of the lightning strike that formed it, and hence fulgurites may be useful in elucidating the energy distribution frequency of cloud-to-ground lightning. Fulgurites from sand mines in Polk County, Florida, USA were collected and analyzed to determine morphologic properties. Here we show that the energy per unit length of lightning strikes within quartz sand has a geometric mean of ~1.0 MJ/m, and that the distribution is lognormal with respect to energy per length and frequency. Energy per length is determined from fulgurites as a function of diameter, and frequency is determined both by cumulative number and by cumulative length. This distribution parallels those determined for a number of lightning parameters measured in actual atmospheric discharge events, such as charge transferred, voltage, and action integral. This methodology suggests a potential useful pathway for elucidating lightning energy and damage potential of strikes.
Exposure to severe and prolonged stress has detrimental effects on the hippocampus. However, relatively little is known about the gradual changes in hippocampal structure, and its behavioral consequences, over the course of repeated stress. Behavioral analyses during 10 days of chronic stress pointed to a delayed decline in spatial memory, the full impact of which is evident only after the end of stress. In contrast, concurrent volumetric measurements in the same animals revealed significant reduction in hippocampal volumes in stressed animals relative to their unstressed counterparts, as early as the third day of stress. Notably, animals that were behaviorally the worst affected at the end of chronic stress suffered the most pronounced early loss in hippocampal volume. Together, these findings support the view that not only is smaller hippocampal volume linked to stress-induced memory deficits, but it may also act as an early risk factor for the eventual development of cognitive impairments seen in stress-related psychiatric disorders.
Mindfulness, a psychological process reflecting attention and awareness to what is happening in the present moment, has been associated with increased well-being and decreased depression and anxiety in both healthy and patient populations. However, little research has explored underlying neural pathways. Recent work suggests that mindfulness (and mindfulness training interventions) may foster neuroplastic changes in cortico-limbic circuits responsible for stress and emotion regulation. Building on this work, we hypothesized that higher levels of dispositional mindfulness would be associated with decreased grey matter volume in the amgydala. In the present study, a self-report measure of dispositional mindfulness and structural MRI images were obtained from 155 healthy community adults. Volumetric analyses showed that higher dispositional mindfulness is associated with decreased grey matter volume in the right amygdala, and exploratory analyses revealed that higher dispositional mindfulness is also associated with decreased grey matter volume in the left caudate. Moreover, secondary analyses indicate that these amygdala and caudate volume associations persist after controlling for relevant demographic and individual difference factors (i.e., age, total grey matter volume, neuroticism, depression). Such volumetric differences may help explain why mindful individuals have reduced stress reactivity, and suggest new candidate structural neurobiological pathways linking mindfulness with mental and physical health outcomes.