I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief at Inverse, and this is Inverse Daily, your list of essential science and innovation reads. It’s...Friday.
THE END OF THE END-OF-THE-WORLD SURVEY — Today is the last day to join in our survey about what you would pack into a backpack if it was the end of the world. You know, the crumbling of society. The post-apocalyptic future. Say you’re not a prepper and you’re in a big box store in the suburbs with just a backpack to fill. What do you put in it? Take our anonymous survey! We’ll publish the results in a special guide soon.
This squirming robotic superstructure is the next Roomba — Researchers from France have discovered that mindless toy bugs can propel a robot structure with near intelligence-like abilities, reports Sarah Wells:
What do a mighty morphing dinosaur, several children in a trench coat, and a swarm of smiling robots have in common? They know there’s power in numbers — at least when it comes to their constituent parts.
Megazord from the Power Rangers franchise and the Teselecta from Doctor Who are two examples of superstructures, or a structure in robotics made up of tinier robots. And they’re not just science fiction anymore.
In a new paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Robotics, a team of physicists from the University of Bordeaux designed a new kind of superstructure that uses mindless mini-robots to power a seemingly intelligent superstructure that can squeeze through obstacles, pull things, and even battle other superstructure bots.
Go deeper into robotics reporting:
- Are the Boston Dynamics robots really dancing? The creepy video, explained
- 5 things to know before you romance a robot
- One surprising way robot lawnmowers will help the Earth
Feral hogs study reveals an unexpected consequence of invasive species — Scientists discover that feral pigs release 4.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, highlighting an unexpected consequence of an invasive species, reports Tara Yarlagadda:
On August 4, 2019, Willie McNabb raised a Twitter hellstorm when he tweeted the following response to a post advocating for restrictions on assault rifles:
Legit question for rural Americans - How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?
Many on Twitter subsequently mocked McNabb for his seemingly serious swine inquiry, turning his tweet into the meme of the year.
But feral hogs (Sus scrofa) are indeed disrupting our lives — though not in the way you might expect, according to research published Monday in the journal Global Change Biology.
Go deeper into our recent biology reporting:
- A basic fact of male biology may be responsible for men's short lifespans
- To prevent heart disease, Americans should embrace this underrated carb
- DNA study finds less than 2 percent of the human genome is “human”
Are you born with a “math brain”? What neurotransmitters can reveal — Neurotransmitters involved in learning predict mathematical ability and change over time. The GABA and glutamate could be the key in the world of neuroscience, reports Katie MacBride:
If you struggled with math as a child, blame your neurotransmitters.
Researchers have long thought that brain excitement and inhibition levels are related to learning, especially during formative developmental years. Precisely how the activity related to complex learning over decades, however, has remained a mystery.
Roi Cohen Kadosh, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at Oxford University, looked into how to improve cognitive functioning and realized math — something he loves that isn’t exactly a universally beloved subject — could be an instructive metric.
“I love math,” he tells Inverse. “But from a less selfish perspective, it is a critical ability that many struggle with. It takes years to master it to some degree, and it has an impact throughout our lives.”
Go deeper into the brain:
- Does fatherhood change your brain? Here's what scientists know so far
- A new understanding of sleep may explain why the mind wanders
- Loneliness is shrinking your brain. Here’s how to stop it.
Discovery of ancient Roman “ghost road” may forecast the future of Venice — Scientists discovered archaeological structures in the Venitian Lagoon that could have been a road from ancient Rome, reports Elana Spivack:
The floating city of Venice hides some sunken secrets in its eponymous lagoon, ones that could quite possibly hint at its future fate.
The city, made famous by its canals, has had trouble with extreme flooding as recently as 2018, and scientists predict the situation will only get worse as waters continue to rise. But if Venice does end up submerged in our lifetime, it will not be the first time Venetians have had to adapt to rapid climate change.
Lurking in the murky Venitian Lagoon are the Atlantis-like remains of an ancient Roman road. The discovery shows the lagoon was once land — and it is a stark prediction of how rapidly rising water levels can obliterate even the best of human engineering and infrastructure.
More from the ancient world:
- Scientists discover the ancient birthplace of marijuana
- Ancient creatures went north to flee climate change — now animals are doing it again
- Ancient wings reveal what insects could do before dinosaurs existed
- About the newsletter: Do you think we can improve it? Have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send those thoughts and more to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sound off!
- Today’s metal song loosely related to science: “Planet B” by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. (“There is no Planet B / Open your eyes and see”)
- Before we go: Woody Harrelson (60), Daniel Radcliffe (32), Monica Lewinsky (48; pictured above. Follow her on Twitter.), Slash (56), Marlon Wayans (49). (Source: AP)