Cleaning Up Fish Farms
Silk’s superpowers
Microbes at the Gas Pump
Tree Frogs
Salamanders and Newts
Revenge of the Cowbirds
Vent Worms Like It Hot
Pothole Repair, Insect-style
Monkeys in the Mirror
Wake Up, Sleepy Gene
Honeybees do the wave
Chemistry and Materials
Batteries built by Viruses
Watching out for vultures
The science of disappearing
Music of the Future
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A Classroom of the Mind
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Earth's Lowly Rumble
Surf Watch
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Seabirds Deliver Arctic Pollutants
Flu river
City Trees Beat Country Trees
Finding the Past
Settling the Americas
Watching deep-space fireworks
Meet your mysterious relative
Flashlight Fishes
Food and Nutrition
Healing Honey
A Taste for Cheese
Strong Bones for Life
GSAT English Rules
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Prime Time for Cicadas
Setting a Prime Number Record
Losing with Heads or Tails
Human Body
Surviving Olympic Heat
Heavy Sleep
Opening a Channel for Tasting Salt
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Children and Media
One ring around them all
Extra Strings for New Sounds
Dreams of Floating in Space
Tracking the Sun Improves Plant Pollen
The algae invasion
A Giant Flower's New Family
Black Mamba
Space and Astronomy
Chaos Among the Planets
A Darker, Warmer Red Planet
Ready, Set, Supernova
Technology and Engineering
Squeezing Oil from Old Wells
Beyond Bar Codes
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
The Parts of Speech
Adjectives and Adverbs
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How to Fly Like a Bat
Middle school science adventures
Robots on a Rocky Road
Catching Some Rays
Recipe for a Hurricane
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
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Machine Copy

It would be a perfect theme for a horror movie: People build robots that can make copies of themselves. Robots reproduce like crazy. Robots take over the world. Ridiculous? In fact, only part of the story is fiction. Robots haven't yet taken over the world, but scientists from Cornell University have created simple machines that can make more of their own kind. The process is called self-replication. Far from being nightmarish, the researchers say, self-replicating robots could revolutionize space exploration. And they'd be perfect for clearing minefields and doing other risky tasks. Best of all, they'd be able to repair themselves. The new robots are made of stacks of blocks called "molecubes." Each cube is about the size of an adult's fist. Inside, there's a motor, electromagnets, and a tiny computer processor. The cubes are divided diagonally into plastic halves that can swivel back and forth. As a robot copies itself, computer programs tell the cube halves how to rotate. Electromagnets, meanwhile, let go of some cubes and pick up others that have been placed nearby. During the process, the stack of cubes twists and bends into various shapes, such as L's or upside-down U's. In the end, there are two identical objects, where once there was just one. This may not sound very impressive—yet. But it's a step on the path toward complex machines that can make copies of themselves.—E. Sohn

Machine Copy
Machine Copy

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