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Physical Sciences

Farewell, Cassini: What have we learned about Saturn?

Astronomy professor Leslie Looney talks about NASA’s Cassini satellite, which will descend into Saturn’s atmosphere tomorrow, twenty years after it's launch 

Congressional redistricting less contentious when resolved using computer algorithm

Concerns that the process of U.S. congressional redistricting may be politically biased have fueled many debates, but a team of University of Illinois computer scientists and engineers has developed a new computer algorithm that may make the task easier for state legislatures and fairer for their constituents.

Researchers identify cheaper, greener biofuels processing catalyst

Fuels that are produced from nonpetroleum-based biological sources may become greener and more affordable, thanks to research performed at the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute that examines the use of a processing catalyst made from palladium metal and bacteria.

Are you ready for the solar eclipse?

Astronomy professor Leslie Looney on what will it look like on – and off – the "path of totality."

Are droughts becoming more extreme and severe?

"Because future climate projections exhibit 'more extreme extremes,' drought recovery times will be critical for assessing ecosystem resilience."

Cicada wings may inspire new surface technologies

Researchers are looking to insects – specifically cicadas – for insight into the design of artificial surfaces with de-icing, self-cleaning and anti-fogging abilities. 

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of Tibetan Plateau, study finds

Geoscientists have long puzzled over the mechanism that created the Tibetan Plateau, but a new study finds that the landform’s history may be controlled primarily by the strength of the tectonic plates whose collision prompted its uplift. Given that the region is one of the most seismically active areas in the world, understanding the plateau’s geologic history could give scientists insight to modern day earthquake activity.


Researchers develop dynamic templates critical to printable electronics technology

When it comes to efficiency, sometimes it helps to look to Mother Nature for advice – even in technology as advanced as printable, flexible electronics.

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed bio-inspired dynamic templates used to manufacture organic semiconductor materials that produce printable electronics. It uses a process similar to biomineralization – the way that bones and teeth form. This technique is also eco-friendly compared with how conventional electronics are made, which gives the researchers the chance to return the favor to nature.  

Survey reveals widespread bias in astronomy and planetary science

In an online survey about their workplace experiences, 88 percent of academics, students, postdoctoral researchers and administrators in astronomy and planetary science reported hearing, experiencing or witnessing negative language or harassment relating to race, gender or other physical characteristics at work within the last five years. Of the 423 respondents, 39 percent reported having been verbally harassed and 9 percent said they had suffered physical harassment at work.

Engineers find way to evaluate green roofs

Green infrastructure is an attractive concept, but there is concern surrounding its effectiveness. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using a mathematical technique traditionally used in earthquake engineering to determine how well green infrastructure works and to communicate with urban planners, policymakers and developers.