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Short looping clip of a red toy boat bobbing on waves in the centre of the 86cm prototype of the wave concentrator device

A toy boat bobs inside a structure designed to raise the height of water waves in its centre. Credit: C. Li et al. Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 104501 (2018)/APS

Fluid dynamics

Water waves grow tall with help from a trick of light

Ring-shaped invention channels waves to triple their height — a potential boon to wave energy.

A ring-shaped device can concentrate waves in water into a relatively small space without reflecting them — a technique that could make harvesting wave energy more efficient.

Structures that boost the height of water waves in a confined area can increase energy harvest from the sea. But these structures often end up reflecting waves, which dissipates some of their energy.

Inspired by their previous work using optical devices to control light waves, Huanyang Chen at Xiamen University in China, Zhenyu Wang at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and their colleagues created a ring of thin metal sheets, arranged like slides in a projector’s carousel. The structure channelled incoming waves towards the ring’s centre. By tailoring the length and depth of the gaps between sheets, the team created cavities that also caused reflected waves of a set frequency to interfere and cancel each other out, preventing reflections.

Tests in a tank showed that a prototype device that is 86 centimetres across could triple the height of waves at the ring’s centre, while leaving waves outside the ring undisturbed.

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Developmental biology

The error-prone step at the heart of making an embryo

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Satellite image of broken iceberg B-44.

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Climate change

Antarctic rocks on the rebound could raise sea level much more than expected

When the ice covering the west of the continent disappears, the bedrock could rise up and shove extra water into the ocean.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, Costa Rica

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Conservation biology

Forests that float in the clouds are drifting away

Tropical cloud forests are safe havens for a vast range of creatures and plants, but they are under siege around the globe.
Illustration of a brown dwarf

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Astronomy and astrophysics

Dim stars that have failed at fusion are masters of spin

Three brown dwarfs whirl on their axes at a dizzying rate that might be close to the celestial speed limit for these bodies.
Aerial photograph of beef cattle standing at the Texana Feeders feedlot in Floresville, Texas

Large-scale facilities such as this feedlot in Floresville, Texas, help to meet the global appetite for beef and other red meat, which remains strong despite the growing consumption of chicken and fish. Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty


Meat lovers worldwide pay climate little heed

People are eating more poultry and fish — but they’re not giving up their hamburgers.
Midshipmen at dining table eat in formation, CIRCA 1900

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A century of US data documents obesity’s racially skewed rise

An analysis also finds that obesity is common at a much younger age among people born in the early 1980s than those born in the late 1950s.
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