University Communications Staff

Evan Lerner

Science News Officer

Astronomy, Chemistry, Computer Science, Computing, Engineering, Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response, Mathematics, Penn Science Café, Physics, Psychology, Science, Technology, Weiss Tech House

215-573-6604

elerner@upenn.edu

By Sarah Welsh Nature versus nurture is an age-old question in biology, centering on whether a given trait is determined by an organism’s genes or by its environment. Most times the answer is “both,” but research at the University of Pennsylvania has found one trait in particular that is not easily described by either.
Penn Electric Racing took home the gold at an international competition in mid-June. Automotive engineering society SAE International hosts an annual series of racing events designed to spur creativity, innovation, and problem-solving in the next generation of engineering students. The Formula SAE competition, which pits custom-built, high-performance racecars against one another, brought in more than 100 teams this year, hailing from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, and Japan.
The role that attention plays in generating new and useful ideas is controversial among neuroscientists. Some neuroimaging studies have shown that creativity involves more cognitive control, or focused attention. Other studies have shown it involves less.
Investigators at a new University of Pennsylvania research center will focus on key physical principles that underpin cancer’s development and growth.
Penn Electric Racing has taken home top honors at an international competition.
Despite their ubiquity in consumer electronics, rare-earth metals are, as their name suggests, hard to come by. Mining and purifying them is an expensive, labor-intensive and ecologically devastating process.
Picking things up and putting them down is a mainstay of any kind of manufacturing, but fingers, human or robotic, are not always best for the task at hand.    
In early June, Penn engineers were among the 23 teams that brought the world’s most advanced humanoid robots to Pasadena, Calif., for the ultimate test: the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals. There, robots had to pass a gauntlet of eight tasks that simulate what a rescue robot might be called on to perform in a crisis situation. [youtube]http://youtu.be/iQtNPDaa9ww[/youtube]
By Madeleine Stone  @themadstone In any textbook diagram, a group of red blood cells, skin cells or nerve cells will typically be identical in size. But, just as no two people are quite the same height and weight, in a population of real cells there are larger and smaller individuals.
If a man has a map, he can know where he is without knowing which way he is facing. If a woman has a compass, she can know which way she’s facing without knowing where she is. Animals from ants to mice to humans use both kinds of information to reorient themselves in familiar places, but how they determine this information from environmental cues is not well understood.