We used peanuts and a climbing wall to learn how squirrels judge their leaps so successfully – and how their skills could inspire more nimble robots

How do squirrels leap through trees without falling? It takes strength, flexibility and finely tuned cognitive skills.

Robert J. Full, Professor of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley • conversation
Aug. 5, 2021 ~10 min

Wildfire smoke changes dramatically as it ages, and that matters for downwind air quality – here's what we learned flying through smoke plumes

Thousands of chemical compounds in wildfire smoke are interacting with each other and sunlight as the smoke travels. For people downwind, it can become more toxic over time.

Brett B. Palm, Postdoctoral Researcher in Atmospheric Chemistry, University of Washington • conversation
Dec. 17, 2020 ~8 min

Chuck Yeager was a Hollywood idea of a brave test pilot – today they must be skilled engineers too

Sound barrier-breaking fighter ace Chuck Yeager, who has died aged 97, epitomised a very different era of test pilots.

Guy Gratton, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Brunel University London • conversation
Dec. 10, 2020 ~8 min

Pterosaurs increased their flight efficiency over time – new evidence for long-term evolution

Fossils reveal that dinosaurs' flying cousins become twice as efficient at flying over 150 million years.

Michael J. Benton, Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology, University of Bristol • conversation
Oct. 28, 2020 ~6 min