It’s the weekend again, and your correspondent sincerely hopes you are not showering Michael Bay’s astoundingly long and supremely awful new “Transformers” flick with your hard-earned dollars (even Shia LaBeouf couldn’t hold his disdain in). If you are instead doing literally anything else, congratulate yourself on your good taste.

 

Now that you’ve doused yourself in a round of well-merited self-congratulation, grab a pint or so of your favorite brew and catch up on this week’s top science stories, curated for your consumption by the fine folks at MUI PR Blog.

 

1. New World Record for a Superconductor

A team from the University of Cambridge has managed to topple a decade-old record by trapping a particularly strong magnetic field in a high temperature superconductor.

 

Conductor

Using a golf ball-sized superconductor constructed of gadolinium barium copper oxide (free beers to whoever can give the chemical shorthand for that doozy), the Cambridge team trapped themselves a field with a strength of 17.6 Tesla – about three tons of force. Superconductors – cooled materials that transmit electric current – enjoy wide use in a variety of scientific and medical applications, and Cambridge’s record-breaking feat paves the way for conductor roles in energy storage, high-speed trains and other such tantalizing areas.

 

2. NASA Unveils Mars Spacesuit

NASA has revealed its second stab at a Martian spacesuitand it looks…well…sigh.

 

NASA Mars Suit

NASA Mars Suit (sciencenews.org)

Think that sexy, spacy blue luminescence adds a bit of desperately needed class to the whole getup? Too bad. NASA threw a bone to the wisdom of the Interwebs in the form of an online poll, but the real thing will not look that awesome.

 

The Quasimodo-like design belies some serious scientific thinking, though. The suit was constructed for maximum flexibility of the hips and legs, seeing as the first generation of intrepid Red Planet explorers will hopefully spend a significant amount of time frolicking among Martian cliffs and valleys in the name of progress.

 

3. Facebook Manipulates Emotions

Do you have a Facebook account? You may be functioning as an unwitting scientific guinea pig. Data scientists at the social network giant played around with the emotions of 689,003 users for a week or so in January 2012, curating posts on timelines to facilitate either positive or negative emotions. Shockingly, reducing a timeline’s positivity led to a reduction in positive posts by the user, and vice versa. The next time you are desperately searching for pictures from your college roommate’s joyous destination wedding amongst a pile of alarming news stories and status updates from teenage girls, take a moment to congratulate yourself. You may be a totally unwilling and totally uniformed participant in a Silicon Valley spin on scientific advancement.

 

4. Measuring Electron Interactions

The infinitesimal magnetic interactions of electrons have finally been measured by a team of Israeli researchers. By decoupling electrons from their surrounding environment, the researchers were able to isolate the magnetic interactions from the cacophonous background of magnetic noise and generate successful measurements at incredibly short length scales. The achievement could enable further groundbreaking work in quantum mechanics.

 

5. Pilot Loses Landing Gear, Lands On Padded Stool

Just like last week, your correspondent cannot resist adding a bit of nominally scientific pizazz to wrap up this dose of science. Enjoy.

 

Did you notice anything interesting in the world of science this week? Let me know here or on Twitter @aa_murph