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Li et al. 2017;3:e1602045

Inspired by a manta ray, scientists have built a small, squishy robotic fish that can swim and turn by remote control. Using the surrounding water as an electrode to capture and distribute electrical energy, the self-powered machine treads water twice as fast as similar robots and can function in a range of water temperatures. The biggest advance, though, is its energy efficiency — the robot can operate for three hours without recharging.

"[It] is an elegant demonstration of the emerging capabilities of soft robots," says Harvard's Michael Wehner, who last year built an octopus robot powered by hydrogen peroxide.

Why it matters: Robots will soon move out of warehouses and hospitals and into harsher, less predictable environments where they'll have to navigate small spaces and interact with humans (they may eventually even move through our bodies to diagnose disease in a next generation of endoscopies). To make it, they'll need to be compact, soft and flexible.

Go deeper

Trading platforms curb trading on high-flying Reddit stocks

Major trading platforms including Robinhood, TDAmeritrade and Interactive Brokers are restricting — or cutting off entirely — trading on high-flying stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment.

Why it matters: It limits access to the traders that have contributed to the wild Reddit-driven activity of the past few days — a phenomenon that has gripped Wall Street and the country.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

2020 was the economy's worst year since 1946

Source: FRED; Billions of chained 2012 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the last major economic report cards of the Trump era lends perspective to the historic damage caused by the pandemic, which continued to weigh on growth in the final quarter of 2020.

By the numbers: The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, a sharp slowdown in growth compared to the prior quarter. For the full year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the first annual contraction since the financial crisis and the worst decline since 1946.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.

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