A different kind of camera
captures speedy actions
A new video camera, the fastest by far, has set a
staggering speed record. It films 5 trillion frames
(equivalent to 5 trillion still images) every second,
blowing away the 100,000 frames per second of
high-speed commercial cameras. The device
could offer a peek at never-before-seen phenomena, such as the blazingly fast chemical reactions
that drive explosions or combustion.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden
demonstrated the camera’s speediness by filming
particles of light traveling a distance as thin as a
sheet of paper, then slowing down the trillionth-of-a-second journey to watch it.
The gadget works by repeatedly flashing a laser
at a subject, with each flash getting a unique code.
The subject reflects the flashes, and those reflections are combined into a single image. Then,
an algorithm separates the image into a video
sequence based on the codes, the scientists report
March 15 in Light: Science & Applications. A
German company is developing the camera for
laboratory use. It could be ready in about two
years. — Ashley Yeager
SCIENCE S TATS
Access to quality health care
has improved in most places
Health care quality and availability improved globally
from 1990 to 2015, but the gap between the haves and
the have-nots widened in those 25 years, researchers
report online May 18 in Lancet.
As an approximate measure of access to quality
health care, an international team of researchers
analyzed mortality rates for 32 diseases and injuries
that are typically not fatal when effective medical care
is available. The team summarized the data on a scale
from zero to 100, known as the Healthcare Access and
Quality Index, for 195 countries and territories.
Canada, Australia, Japan and much of Europe had
the highest scores (purple in maps at right) in 2015,
while Afghanistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and
some African countries, including the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Niger and Zambia, had the lowest
(red). The countries with the greatest improvement
since 1990 include South Korea, Peru and China.
The widening gap in access suggests that health
care inequalities due to geography may be on the rise,
the authors say. — Aimee Cunningham
and Quality Index
Cooler colors show countries and territories
with higher scores on health care access
and quality; hotter colors show those with
lower scores. Overall, global scores improved
between 1990 and 2015.
Ladybugs are skilled packers
Those who struggle to fit a vacation wardrobe into a carry-on might
learn from ladybugs. The flying beetles neatly fold up their wings
when they land, stashing the delicate appendages underneath their
protective red and black forewings.
To learn how one species of ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata)
achieves such efficient packing, scientists needed to see under the
bug’s spotted exterior. So a team from Japan replaced part of a
ladybug’s forewing with a transparent bit of resin, to get a first-of-its-kind glimpse of the folding.
Slow-motion video of the altered ladybug showed that the insect
makes a complex, origami-like series of folds to stash its wings, the
scientists report in the May 30 Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences. CT scans helped explain how the wings can be both strong
enough to hold the insects aloft and easily foldable into a tiny package.
The shape of the wing veins allows them to flex like a metal tape measure, making the wings stiff but bendable. Lessons learned from the
wings could be applied to new technologies, including foldable aircraft
wings or solar panels that unfurl from a spacecraft. — Emily Conover
Replacing part of a
ladybug’s spotted wing
case with transparent
resin reveals wing-folding.