Weekly News Bites

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are alien civilizations, prehistoric bird diets, and how we smell.

We may not be alone in the universe, but how many extraterrestrial neighbors do we have in the Milky Way galaxy? Around 42,000 alien civilizations says study from Beijing Normal University. The researchers calculated factors such as the probability of planets having the right ingredients to host life.

Looking back, prehistoric birds may have actually preferred eating bugs rather than fish according to research by The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The research team concluded these dinosaur birds had weaker jaws than current fish-eating birds through examining their fossils. Their long jaws may have instead evolved to help remove parasites or keep them cool.

The process of smelling things can be pretty complex and scientists from the University of Tokyo have created a special device to help them understand it better. They found that our brains can detect smells even before we realize we have smelled them. In addition, unpleasant odors were processed more quickly than pleasant ones, which may be due to an early warning system in our bodies in place to protect us.

Solid-state batteries are becoming more common but have a short lifespan when used repeatedly. Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have found a way to make the batteries last longer and charge faster by adding a layer of a heat- and wear-resistant metal to the electrolyte surface.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Yonsei University have developed bioinspired visual sensors that can detect objects in differently lit environments. The visual sensors adapt to the amount of light present directly, like the human retina, and could even surpass the range capable by the human eye.

A “dyeless” 3D printer ink has been created by Fudan University, the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Southeast University. This ink produces color through interactions between light and the intrinsic nanostructures. This dye is safe to touch and can be used for color-changing toys.