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The Salmon Cannon Helps Fish Travel Upstream

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Salmon have a problem: Man-made obstacles are making it harder for them to complete their epic journey upstream to spawn. While some dams are equipped with what are called “fish ladders” that help the fish traverse, other dams, like the 236-foot-tall Chief Joseph dam, or the 550-foot-tall Grand Coulee dam, are far too big to be scaled. And if salmon can’t get back to their mating grounds, they’re not the only ones with problems. These creatures are incredibly important to the natural world. After they spawn, they often die in the river, and their bodies imbue the water and its surroundings with important nutrients. As the Wild Salmon Center, a conservation organization, puts it, “It is no coincidence that the largest remaining populations of apex predators such as brown bears and eagles occur where they are still healthy salmon runs.”

But fear not, salmon lovers, a company called Whooshh Innovations has a plausible solution: the salmon cannon. Using pneumatic tubing originally designed for quickly transporting produce, Whooshh has found a way to safely transport and propel salmon 100 feet into the air. "We put a tilapia in the fruit tube," Todd Deligan, Whooshh's vice president, told The Verge. "It went flying, and we were like, ‘Huh, check that out.'"

Once the salmon are in the tube, a vacuum is created, and pressurized air behind the fish pushes it forward until it shoots out the other end at speeds of up to 22 mph.

If you’re worried about the fish, they’re kept moist in the tubes, and show no evidence of harm. The system can transport up to 40 fish per minute. The salmon cannon, while admittedly a bit ridiculous at first glance, could be cheaper than building new fish ladders and easier than collecting salmon and transporting them upstream in trucks or barges. Whooshh started testing the tubes on salmon at the Roza Dam in Washington state in June.

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Animals
25 Shelter Dogs Who Made It Big
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Focus Features

If you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your brood and are deciding whether a shelter dog is right for you, consider this: Some of history’s most amazing pooches—from four-legged movie stars to heroic rescue dogs—were found in animal shelters. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, here are 25 shelter dogs who made it big.

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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