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Nano-Suit Protects Bugs From Vacuums 75

sciencehabit writes "Put a fruit fly larva in a spacelike vacuum, and the results aren't pretty. Within a matter of minutes, the animal will collapse into a crinkled, lifeless husk. Now, researchers have found a way to protect the bugs: Bombard them with electrons, which form a 'nano-suit' around their bodies. The advance could help scientists take high-resolution photographs of tiny living organisms. It also suggests a new way that creatures could survive the harsh conditions of outer space and may even lead to new space travel technology for humans." Work is also being done on electron "suits" that protect against radiation.
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Nano-Suit Protects Bugs From Vacuums

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  • Re:shockingly (Score:5, Informative)

    by tloh ( 451585 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @03:56AM (#43470095)

    Apparently not:

    They found that the energy from the electrons changed the thin film on the larvae's skin, causing its molecules to link together—a process called polymerization. The result was a layer—only 50- to 100-billionths of a meter thick—that was flexible enough to allow the larva to move, but solid enough to keep its gasses and liquids from escaping.

  • Re:Spacelike vacuum? (Score:5, Informative)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @05:13AM (#43470327)

    What exactly is a "spacelike vacuum"? Is it different from other vacuums? Are there vacuums that are unlike space?

    Well, there are levels of vacuum [] graded by orders of magnitude drop from one atmosphere, according to Wikipedia. But "spacelike" isn't one of them since pressures in space can vary by about eleven orders of magnitude (ignoring here that the transition to "space" from a planetary or stellar atmosphere is arbitrary).

    I imagine what they mean is that they were using pressures down to the range seen in low Earth orbit.

  • Re:Spacelike vacuum? (Score:3, Informative)

    by cashdot ( 954651 ) on Wednesday April 17, 2013 @06:19AM (#43470577)

    I imagine what they mean is that they were using pressures down to the range seen in low Earth orbit.

    I agree with that. In low Earth orbit the vacuum is about 10 * (-6) Torr.
    This is also the pressure you can achieve here on earth by relatively simple means using a turbomolecular pump []

    OTOH, it is also possible to produce "interstellar" vacuum in a labratory, but i'm pretty sure they would have mentioned this extra effort.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.