30,914 science & technology articles
  • Nike+ Running App
    Samsung in partnership with NIKE introduced the Nike+ Running App for the newly announced Samsung Gear S smart-watch.  The app make use of the smart-watch integrated Bluetooth and 3G connectivity features, that users can leave their phones at home and still map runs, track progress and stay motivated while on the move. During the workout, users are able to view running metrics, distance, heart rate, time, thanks to integrated GPS, runners can check their routes and speed. by simply raising their wrists. It also has a built in music player.  … Read more
  • Scientists get set for simulated nuclear inspection
    Some 40 scientists and technicians from around the world will descend on Jordan in November to take part in a simulated on-site inspection of a suspected nuclear test site on the banks of the Dead Sea. Playing the part of inspectors, the experts will have access to a wide range of sensor technologies to look for signs of whether a nuclear explosion has taken place. At the same time, other role-players representing the state under inspection will try to put them off their scent. … Read more
  • After Great Recession, Americans are unhappy, worried, pessimistic, study finds
    The protracted and uneven recovery from the Great Recession has led most Americans to conclude that the U.S. economy has undergone a permanent change for the worse, according to a new national study at Rutgers. Seven in 10 now say the recession’s impact is permanent, up from half in 2009 when the recession officially ended, according to the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. Among key findings in “Unhappy, Worried and Pessimistic: Americans in the Aftermath of the Great Recession,” the center’s latest Work Trends report, are: … Read more
  • Next-generation nuclear reactors that use radioactive waste materials as fuel
    Hitachi announced today that they have begun joint research with three American universities aimed at using Transuranium Elements (TRUs) as fuel, and the development of Resource-renewable Boiling Water Reactors (RBWRs) that enable the effective use of uranium resources. Through this joint research, Hitachi plans to evaluate the performance and safety of RBWRs, which is being developed by Hitachi and Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy Ltd., and to study plans for testing with a view toward practical applications with each university.   … Read more
  • Yellowstone supereruption would send ash across North America
    In the unlikely event of a volcanic supereruption at Yellowstone National Park, the northern Rocky Mountains would be blanketed in meters of ash, and millimeters would be deposited as far away as New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, according to a new study. An example of the possible distribution of ash from a month-long Yellowstone supereruption. The distribution map was generated by a new model developed by the U.S. Geological Survey using wind information from January 2001. The improved computer model, detailed in a new study published in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, finds that the hypothetical, large eruption would create a distinctive kind of ash cloud known as an umbrella, which expands evenly in all directions, sending ash across North America. Ash distribution will vary depending on cloud height, eruption duration, diameter of volcanic particles in the cloud, and wind conditions, according to the new study. Credit: USGS An improved computer model developed by the study’s authors finds that the hypothetical, large eruption would create a distinctive kind of ash cloud known as an umbrella, which expands evenly in all directions, sending ash across North America. … Read more
  • Evidence for supernovas near Earth
    Once every 50 years, more or less, a massive star explodes somewhere in the Milky Way.  The resulting blast is terrifyingly powerful, pumping out more energy in a split second than the sun emits in a million years.  At its peak, a supernova can outshine the entire Milky Way. It seems obvious that you wouldn’t want a supernova exploding near Earth.  Yet there is growing evidence that one did—actually, more than one. About 10 million years ago, a nearby cluster of supernovas went off like popcorn.  We know because the explosions blew an enormous bubble in the interstellar medium, and we’re inside it. … Read more
  • Study provides new look at ancient coastline, pathway for early Americans
    The first humans who ventured into North America crossed a land bridge from Asia that is now submerged beneath the Bering Sea, and then may have traveled down the West Coast to occupy sites in Oregon and elsewhere as long as 14,000 to 15,000 years ago. Now a new study has found that the West Coast of North America may have looked vastly different than scientists previously thought, which has implications for understanding how these early Americans made this trek. … Read more
  • Climate change puts endangered Devils Hole pupfish at risk of extinction
    Scuba divers conduct fish research at Devils Hole, an isolated geothermal water-filled limestone cavern in the Nevada desert. The aquifer-fed pool in the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, a detached unit of Death Valley National Park, is the habitat for the only naturally occurring population of the endangered fish. It is an extreme environment, with water temperatures and dissolved oxygen concentrations near their lethal limits for fish. Photo by Scott Tyler, University of Nevada, Reno. Climate change is hurting reproduction of the endangered Devils Hole pupfish, threatening the survival of this rare species that has numbered as few as 35 individuals, new research by the University of Nevada, Reno and Desert Research Institute shows. Scientists report that geothermal water on a small shelf near the surface of an isolated cavern in the Nevada desert where the pupfish live is heating up as a result of climate change and is likely to continue heating to dangerous levels. … Read more
  • Reducing water scarcity possible by 2050
    Increased water-recycling and improved irrigation techniques among six strategies identified as key to successfully reducing global water scarcity PUBLISHED: 29 AUG 2014 Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016. Irrigation techniques, industrial and residential habits combined with climate change lie at the root of the problem. But despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, according to researchers from McGill and Utrecht University it is possible to turn the situation around and significantly reduce water scarcity in just over 35 years. … Read more
  • Researchers devise several ways to orient nonmagnetic objects in 3D space using magnetic levitation
    Manipulating the orientation of an object in the x′–y′ plane of a MagLev device with an external magnet. (A) Schematic of the experimental setup. Due to the cylindrical symmetry of the magnetic field, the long axis of the screw does not have a preferred orientation in the x′–y′ plane. The image in B shows one of the orientations the screw adopts when placed in the device. (C) We moved an external magnet close to the screw to align the screw head along the red lines of the pattern. The brown square indicates the approximate position of the external magnet. Scale bar, 5 mm. Credit:PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1408705111 A team of researchers at Harvard University has come up with a way to move objects in three-dimensional space without touching them. As they describe in their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the technique involves suspending an object in a paramagnetic (very weakly attracted) liquid and then using magnets to manipulate the liquid to hold the object in place—levitating it.   … Read more
  • Step lightly: All-optical transistor triggered by single photon promises advances in quantum applications
    (a) Level scheme, (b) simplified schematic, and (c) pulse sequence of our all-optical transistor. (d) The absorption spectrum for the source field (dots) over the full intermediate state absorption valley shows the EIT window on resonance; the gate field spectrum (circles) is taken around the two-photon resonance at δg = 40 MHz. The solid lines are fits to the EIT spectra. The linewidth of the source EIT window Δν = 2 MHz and the optical depth OD ¼ 25 of our system are extracted from the brown curve. Credit: H. Gorniaczyk et al., Phys. Rev. Lett., 28 July 2014. Optical transistors and switches are fundamental in both classical and quantum optical information processing. A key objective in optics research is determining and developing the structural and performance limits of such all-optical devices, in which a single gate photon modifies the transmission or phase accumulation of multiple source photons – a feature necessitating strong interaction between individual photons. … Read more
  • Memory and Alzheimer’s: Towards a better comprehension of the dynamic mechanisms
    Research by Dr. Sylvain Williams shows that the flow of activity in the hippocampus, a brain region essential for memory, is actually bidirectional, rather than just unidirectional This news release is available in French. Montréal, August 31, 2014 – A study just published in the prestigious Nature Neuroscience journal by, Sylvain Williams, PhD, and his team, of the Research Centre of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University, opens the door towards better understanding of the neural circuitry and dynamic mechanisms controlling memory as well of the role of an essential element of the hippocampus – a sub-region named the subiculum. … Read more
  • Memory in silent neurons
    When we learn, we associate a sensory experience either with other stimuli or with a certain type of behaviour. The neurons in the cerebral cortex that transmit the information modify the synaptic connections that they have with the other neurons. According to a generally-accepted model of synaptic plasticity, a neuron that communicates with others of the same kind emits an electrical impulse as well as activating its synapses transiently. This electrical pulse, combined with the signal received from other neurons, acts to stimulate the synapses. How is it that some neurons are caught up in the communication interplay even when they are barely connected? This is the crucial chicken-or-egg puzzle of synaptic plasticity that a team led by Anthony Holtmaat, professor in the Department of Basic Neurosciences in the Faculty of Medicine at UNIGE, is aiming to solve. The results of their research into memory in silent neurons can be found in the latest edition of Nature. … Read more
  • Discovery reveals how bacteria distinguish harmful versus helpful viruses
    When they are not busy attacking us, germs go after each other. But when viruses invade bacteria, it doesn’t always spell disaster for the infected microbes: Sometimes viruses actually carry helpful genes that a bacterium can harness to, say, expand its diet or better attack its own hosts. … Read more
  • A new synthetic amino acid for an emerging class of drugs
    One of the greatest challenges in modern medicine is developing drugs that are highly effective against a target, but with minimal toxicity and side-effects to the patient. Such properties are directly related to the 3D structure of the drug molecule. Ideally, the drug should have a shape that is perfectly complementary to a disease-causing target, so that it binds it with high specificity. Publishing in Nature Chemistry, EPFL scientists have developed a synthetic amino acid that can impact the 3D structure of bioactive peptides and enhance their potency. … Read more
  • Changing global diets is vital to reducing climate change
    A new study, published today in Nature Climate Change, suggests that – if current trends continue – food production alone will reach, if not exceed, the global targets for total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2050. The study’s authors say we should all think carefully about the food we choose and its environmental impact. A shift to healthier diets across the world is just one of a number of actions that need to be taken to avoid dangerous climate change and ensure there is enough food for all. … Read more
  • Scientists develop ‘electronic nose’ for rapid detection of C. diff infection
    Research from University of Leicester sniffs-out smell of disease in faeces Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 1 September 2014 Images of the research team and of C-diff available to download at:https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4chms0mj7whb0ha/AAC8PDy2Vgi3K9d_XhtJ_zjua A fast-sensitive “electronic-nose” for sniffing the highly infectious bacteria C-diff, that causes diarrhoea, temperature and stomach cramps, has been developed by a team at the University of Leicester. An image of Clostridium difficile or C-diff. Credit: University of Leicester Using a mass spectrometer, the research team has demonstrated that it is possible to identify the unique ‘smell’ of C-diff which would lead to rapid diagnosis of the condition. What is more, the Leicester team say it could be possible to identify different strains of the disease simply from their smell – a chemical fingerprint – helping medics to target the particular condition. The research is published on-line in the journal Metabolomics. Professor Paul Monks, from the Department of Chemistry, said: “The rapid detection and identification of the bug Clostridium difficile (often known as C-diff) is a primary concern in healthcare facilities. Rapid and accurate diagnoses are important to reduce Clostridum difficileinfections, as well as to provide the right treatment to infected patients. “Delayed treatment and inappropriate antibiotics not only cause high morbidity … Read more
  • Plants Makes the Office More Productive
    (Photo : Dr. Edwino S. Fernando) The study authors are now going to try to determine what the specific commands exchanged are. Plants in an office could make staff happier and more productive, according to a recent study. Researchers from the University of Exeter found that a green office is more conducive to a work environment than “lean” designs stripped of greenery. Enriching a lean office with plants could increase productivity by 15 percent. … Read more
  • Sugar substance ‘kills’ good HDL cholesterol, new study finds
    Scientists at the University of Warwick have discovered that ‘good’ cholesterol is turned ‘bad’ by a sugar-derived substance. The substance, methylglyoxal – MG, was found to damage ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, which removes excess levels of bad cholesterol from the body. … Read more
  • Researchers study gallium to design adjustable electronic components
    Researchers study gallium to design adjustable electronic components, including new types of antennas These liquid metal droplets are similar to water but can be shaped into structures. Credit and Larger Version Gallium is one of the few metals that turns into a liquid at room temperature. When that happens, its surface oxidizes, forming a “skin” over the fluid, almost like a water balloon or a water bed. Years ago, scientists often thought the coating a nuisance. Today they consider it an opportunity. … Read more
  • World’s smallest 3G modem
    Intel announced “the world’s smallest standalone 3G modem”. Launched the XMM™ 6255 modem provides a wireless solution for the “smart” and connected devices. At about 300 mm2 in size, it is the world’s smallest standalone 3G modem, making it perfect for networked sensors and other IoT applications such as wearables, security devices and industrial equipment. … Read more
  • New analytical technology reveals ‘nanomechanical’ surface traits
    A new research platform uses a laser to measure the “nanomechanical” properties of tiny structures undergoing stress and heating, an approach likely to yield insights to improve designs for microelectronics and batteries. Clockwise from upper left, graphics of the instrument setup, and at bottom right a scanning electron microscope image of the tiny silicon cantilever used in the research. (Ming Gan/Purdue University photo) Download Photo A new research platform uses a laser to measure the “nanomechanical” properties of tiny structures undergoing stress and heating, an approach likely to yield insights to improve designs for microelectronics and batteries. This new technique, called nanomechanical Raman spectroscopy, reveals information about how heating and the surface stress of microscale structures affect their mechanical properties. Researchers have discussed the merits of surface-stress influence on mechanical properties for decades. However, the nanomechanical Raman spectroscopy has offered the first such measurement, said Vikas Tomar, an associate professor in Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. … Read more
  • Researchers suggest rate of evolution change can explain discrepancy between molecular clocks and fossil evidence
    A four-day-old mouse. Credit: Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0 A pair of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Australia, believe they may have found a way to solve the discrepancy problem that exists between molecular biologists and paleontologists who disagree on the likely first appearance of placental mammals. They describe their new dating approach, which they call a “morphological clock” in their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.   … Read more
  • Scientists looking across human, fly and worm genomes find shared biology
    Researchers analyzing human, fly, and worm genomes have found that these species have a number of key genomic processes in common, reflecting their shared ancestry. The findings, appearing Aug. 28, 2014, in the journal Nature, offer insights into embryonic development, gene regulation and other biological processes vital to understanding human biology and disease. … Read more
  • Study examines 13,000-year-old nanodiamonds from multiple locations across three continents
    A transmission electron microscopy image of carbon spherules from the Younger Dryas Boundary 30 cm below the surface in Gainey, Michigan.   Most of North America’s megafauna — mastodons, short-faced bears, giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats and American camels and horses — disappeared close to 13,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene period. The cause of this massive extinction has long been debated by scientists who, until recently, could only speculate as to why. … Read more
  • Mystery solved: ‘Sailing stones’ of death valley seen in action for the first time
    Rarely formed sheets of ice push rocks across a dry lake in Death Valley.   Racetrack Playa is home to an enduring Death Valley mystery. Littered across the surface of this dry lake, also called a “playa,” are hundreds of rocks – some weighing as much as 320 kilograms (700 pounds) – that seem to have been dragged across the ground, leaving synchronized trails that can stretch for hundreds of meters. … Read more
  • Physicists propose superabsorption of light beyond the limits of classical physics
    In one potential method to realize superabsorption, a superabsorbing ring absorbs incident photons, giving rise to excitons. Credit: Higgins, et al. In a well-known quantum effect called superradiance, atoms can emit light at an enhanced rate compared to what is possible in classical situations. This high emission rate arises from the way that the atoms interact with the surrounding electromagnetic field. Logically, structures that superradiate must also absorb light at a higher rate than normal, but so far the superabsorption of light has not been observed. … Read more
  • New research finds that world-class sprinters attack the ground to maximize impact forces and speed
    The world’s fastest sprinters have unique gait features that account for their ability to achieve fast speeds, according to two new studies from Southern Methodist University, Dallas. The new findings indicate that the secret to elite sprinting speeds lies in the distinct limb dynamics sprinters use to elevate ground forces upon foot-ground impact. … Read more
  • A glucose meter of a different color provides continuous monitoring
    University of Illinois engineers are bringing a touch of color to glucose monitoring. Before glucose is added, the hydrogel glucose meter is blue. | Photo courtesy of Chunjie Zhang The researchers developed a new continuous glucose monitoring material that changes color as glucose levels fluctuate, and the wavelength shift is so precise that doctors and patients may be able to use it for automatic insulin dosing – something not possible using current point measurements like test strips. … Read more
  • In ancient fish teeth, a tale of ecological resilience
    A new study of ancient fish teeth reveals that fish populations in the Pacific Ocean survived an ecological upheaval in the distant past. (Illustration by Patrick Lynch) Microscopic fish teeth may carry a message of hope from an ecological upheaval in the distant past, scientists at Yale University and the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) have found. … Read more
  • Fact or fiction: Which do moviegoers prefer?
    Do you feel sadder watching a documentary about war or a drama about a young person dying of cancer? According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers mistakenly believe they will have stronger emotional reactions when stories are based on true events rather than fiction. … Read more
  • Skype translator
    Your browser does not support iframes. Microsoft announced at Code Conference that Skype would soon be able to translate  language between speakers in real time. The demo showed two people talking in real time using Skype—one in English, the other German. The translated words were displayed on the screen and played aloud by a voice generator.  … Read more
  • Calculating conditions at the birth of the universe
    This galactic snapshot is part of a collage of close-ups pulled from the Ultra Deep Field of the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo courtesy of NASA/ESA/S. Beckwith(STScI) and The HUDF Team.  Using a calculation originally proposed seven years ago to be performed on a petaflop computer, Lawrence Livermore researchers computed conditions that simulate the birth of the universe. When the universe was less than one microsecond old and more than one trillion degrees, it transformed from a plasma of quarks and gluons into bound states of quarks – also known as protons and neutrons, the fundamental building blocks of ordinary matter that make up most of the visible universe. … Read more
  • Introducing the multi-tasking nanoparticle
    Kit Lam and colleagues from UC Davis and other institutions have created dynamic nanoparticles (NPs) that could provide an arsenal of applications to diagnose and treat cancer. Built on an easy-to-make polymer, these particles can be used as contrast agents to light up tumors for MRI and PET scans or deliver chemo and other therapies to destroy tumors. In addition, the particles are biocompatible and have shown no toxicity. The study was published online today inNature Communications. … Read more
  • Laser pulse turns glass into a metal
    For tiny fractions of a second, quartz glass can take on metallic properties, when it is illuminated be a laser pulse. This has been shown by calculations at the Vienna University of Technology. The effect could be used to build logical switches which are much faster than today’s microelectronics. Computer simulations show the electron flux from one atom to the others. Quartz glass does not conduct electric current, it is a typical example of an insulator. With ultra-short laser pulses, however, the electronic properties of glass can be fundamentally changed within femtoseconds (1 fs = 10^-15 seconds). If the laser pulse is strong enough, the electrons in the material can move freely. For a brief moment, the quartz glass behaves like metal. It becomes opaque and conducts electricity. This change of material properties happens so quickly that it can be used for ultra-fast light based electronics. Scientists at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) have now managed to explain this effect using large-scale computer simulations. … Read more
  • Animals first flex their muscles
    A new fossil discovery identifies the earliest evidence for animals with muscles.   Animals may have a much earlier origin than previously thought Alex Liu An unusual new fossil discovery of one of the earliest animals on earth may also provide the oldest evidence of muscle tissue – the bundles of cells that make movement in animals possible. The fossil, dating from 560 million years ago, was discovered in Newfoundland, Canada. On the basis of its four-fold symmetry, morphological characteristics, and what appear to be some of the earliest impressions of muscular tissue, researchers from the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Memorial University of Newfoundland, have interpreted it as a cnidarian: the group which contains modern animals such as corals, sea anemones and jellyfish. The results are published today (27 August) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Historically, the origin, evolution and spread of animals has been viewed as having begun during the Cambrian Explosion, a period of rapid evolutionary development starting 541 million years ago when most major animal groups first appear in the fossil record. “However, in recent decades, discoveries of preserved trackways and chemical evidence in older rocks, as well … Read more
  • Symphony of nanoplasmonic and optical resonators produces laser-like light emission
    By combining plasmonics and optical microresonators, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a new optical amplifier (or laser) design, paving the way for power-on-a-chip applications. “We have made optical systems at the microscopic scale that amplify light and produce ultra-narrowband spectral output,” explained J. Gary Eden, a professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) at Illinois. “These new optical amplifiers are well-suited for routing optical power on a chip containing both electronic and optical components. … Read more
  • Duality principle is “safe and sound”: Researchers clear up apparent violation of quantum mechanics’ wave-particle duality
    Decades of experiments have verified the quirky laws of quantum theory again and again. So when scientists in Germany announced in 2012 an apparent violation of a fundamental law of quantum mechanics, a physicist at the University of Rochester was determined to find an explanation. “You don’t destroy the laws of quantum mechanics that easily,” said Robert Boyd, professor of optics and of physics at Rochester and the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Quantum Nonlinear Optics at the University of Ottawa. … Read more
  • Scientists craft atomically seamless, thinnest-possible semiconductor junctions
    Scientists have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick. As seen under an optical microscope, the heterostructures have a triangular shape. The two different monolayer semiconductors can be recognized through their different colors. The University of Washington researchers have demonstrated that two of these single-layer semiconductor materials can be connected in an atomically seamless fashion known as aheterojunction. This result could be the basis for next-generation flexible and transparent computing, better light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, and solar technologies. … Read more
  • What lit up the universe?
    New research from UCL shows we will soon uncover the origin of the ultraviolet light that bathes the cosmos, helping scientists understand how galaxies were built. The study published today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters by UCL cosmologists Dr Andrew Pontzen and Dr Hiranya Peiris (both UCL Physics & Astronomy), together with collaborators at Princeton and Barcelona Universities, shows how forthcoming astronomical surveys will reveal what lit up the cosmos. … Read more
  • HTC 8-core 64-bit smartphone
    HTC has send press invites for a 4th September press event to be held at IFA Berlin, where it will unveil its first 8-core, 64-bit smartphone. According Weibo page, HTC claims that it will be the “world’s first” Android smartphone powered by an 8-core 64-bit processor … Read more
  • Overly polite drivers, not roadworks, cause traffic jams
    British motorists who are too polite or timid in their driving style are the cause of lengthy traffic jams across the UK, particularly when faced with roadworks or lane closures, according to a leading Heriot-Watt research scientist who found traffic jams can be up to 20 per cent worse than engineers plan for, due to drivers being overly polite on the road. … Read more
  • Self-driving cars need ‘adjustable ethics’ set by owners
    One of the self-drive cars already being used by Google in Nevada, in the US. EPA/Google One of the issues of self-driving vehicles is legal liability for death or injury in the event of an accident. If the car maker programs the car so the driver has no choice, is it likely the company could be sued over the car’s actions. One way around this is to shift liability to the car owner by allowing them to determine a set of values or options in the event of an accident. … Read more
  • A single diamond crystal does the job
    X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) is a technique used in many areas of science, from biology to materials science,that allows researchers to uncover information on a sample’s molecular structure and electronic behavior by studying how it absorbs and re-emits x-rays. Recently, a research team working at the National Synchrotron Light Source developed a way to improve certain XAS experiments by replacing a standard experimental component, an x-ray beam monitor, with a diamond-based type that is better performing but has been incompatible with many XAS experiments due to technical roadblocks. … Read more
  • Catalytic gold nanoclusters promise rich chemical yields
    The reaction mechanism of carbon monoxide oxidation is shown over intact and partially ligand-removed gold nanoclusters supported on cerium oxide rods. Image credit: Wu, Z.; Jiang, D.; Mann, A.; Mullins, D.; Qiao, Z.-A.; Allard, L.; Zeng, C.; Jin, R.; Overbury, S. Thiolate Ligands as a Double-Edged Sword for CO Oxidation on CeO2-Supported Au25(SCH2CH2Ph)18 Nanoclusters. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136(16), 6111. (hi-res image) Old thinking was that gold, while good for jewelry, was not of much use for chemists because it is relatively nonreactive. That changed a decade ago when scientists hit a rich vein of discoveries revealing that this noble metal, when structured into nanometer-sized particles, can speed up chemical reactions important in mitigating environmental pollutants and producing hard-to-make specialty chemicals. Catalytic gold nanoparticles have since spurred hundreds of scientific journal articles. With the world catalyst market poised to hit $19.5 billion by 2016, gold nanoparticles may find commercial as well as intellectual importance, as they could ultimately lead to novel catalysts for energy, pharmacology and diverse consumer products. … Read more
  • ZigBee in the Sky
    A team of engineers from Singapore has successfully piloted the world’s first ZigBee wireless sensor network (WSN) for satellite communications. With the weight of payloads being a major constraint in satellite design, constructing a lightweight, low power-consuming, wireless communication system to do away with cabling inside the satellite has always been a challenge for system designers. … Read more
  • How Titan’s haze help us understand life’s origins
    Saturn’s moon Titan appears as a hazy ball from a distance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute Where did life on Earth come from? There are several theories as to what might have happened. Maybe comets came bearing organic material, or life was transported from another planet such as Mars, or something happened in the chemistry of our planet that made life possible. Luckily for researchers, there is a possible laboratory in our solar system to help us better understand the conditions on Earth before life arose — a situation sometimes referred to as a “prebiotic” environment. That location is Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. … Read more
  • GPS Cat Tracking Collar
    As long as pets keep getting lost, companies will keep figuring out ways to help owners find them. Pawtrack is a GPS tracking collar that is designed specifically for cats. Its designed to have the GPS antenna on the back of the animal’s neck for more accurate readings and lets owners set how often it tracks. It can be configured to track for two days every 10 minutes, or be set for longer periods of time. It has internal wi-fi, which means that the collar can recognize when a cat is home and put itself to sleep to preserve energy. The collar is on as soon as the cat leaves. A built in accelerometer recognises when your cat is sleeping, resting or lazing around and shuts the collar down to conserve battery. … Read more
  • Tilted acoustic tweezers separate cells gently
    Precise, gentle and efficient cell separation from a device the size of a cell phone may be possible thanks to tilt-angle standing surface acoustic waves, according to a team of engineers. “For biological testing we often need to do cell separation before analysis,” said Tony Jun Huang, professor of engineering science and mechanics. “But if the separation process affects the integrity of the cells, damages them in any way, the diagnosis often won’t work well.” … Read more
  • To deter cyberattacks, build a public-private partnership
    Cyberattacks loom as an increasingly dire threat to privacy, national security and the global economy, and the best way to blunt their impact may be a public-private partnership between government and business, researchers say. But the time to act is now, rather than in the wake of a crisis, says a University of Illinois expert in law and technology.According to a study by Jay Kesan, the H. Ross and Helen Workman Research Scholar at the College of Law, an information-sharing framework is necessary to combat cybersecurity threats. … Read more
  • Exposure to toxins makes great granddaughters more susceptible to stress
    Pyramid of sleeping rat pups. Photo: Andrea Gore. Scientists have known that toxic effects of substances known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), found in both natural and human-made materials, can pass from one generation to the next, but new research shows that females with ancestral exposure to EDC may show especially adverse reactions to stress. … Read more
  • High insulin levels tied to obesity pathway, research shows
    UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified a crucial link between high levels of insulin and pathways that lead to obesity, a finding that may have important implications when treating diabetes. Researchers with the UT Southwestern’s Touchstone Center for Diabetes found that giving mice high levels of insulin, which is typically done to counter the effects of diabetes or insulin resistance in Type 2 diabetes, also fosters processes that lead to obesity. … Read more
  • Researchers discover protein’s ability to inhibit HIV release
    A family of proteins that promotes virus entry into cells also has the ability to block the release of HIV and other viruses, University of Missouri researchers have found. “This is a surprising finding that provides new insights into our understanding of not only HIV infection, but also that of Ebola and other viruses,” said Shan-Lu Liu, MD, PhD, associate professor in the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. … Read more
  • Physics research removes outcome unpredictability of ultracold atomic reactions
    Findings from a physics study by a Kansas State University researcher are helping scientists accurately predict the once unpredictable. Yujun Wang, research associate with the James R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University, and Paul Julienne at the University of Maryland, looked at theoretically predicting and understanding chemical reactions that involve three atoms at ultracold temperatures. Their findings help explain the likely outcome of a chemical reaction and shed new light on mysterious quantum states. … Read more
  • Researchers find boron facilitates stem cell growth and development in corn
    Boron deficiency is one of the most widespread causes of reduced crop yield. Missouri and the eastern half of the United States are plagued by boron deficient soil and, often, corn and soybean farmers are required to supplement their soil with boron; however, little is known about the ways in which corn plants utilize the essential nutrient. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that boron plays an integral role in development and reproduction in corn plants. Scientists anticipate that understanding how corn uses the nutrient can help farmers make informed decisions in boron deficient areas and improve crop yields. … Read more
  • Biomimetic photodetector ‘sees’ in color
    Rice University researchers have created a CMOS-compatible, biomimetic color photodetector that directly responds to red, green and blue light in much the same way the human eye does. Researchers at Rice University’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics have demonstrated a method for designing imaging sensors by integrating light amplifiers and color filters directly into pixels. Credit: B. Zheng/Rice University The new device was created by researchers at Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) and is described online in a new study in the journal Advanced Materials. It uses an aluminum grating that can be added to silicon photodetectors with the silicon microchip industry’s mainstay technology, “complementary metal-oxide semiconductor,” or CMOS. … Read more
  • A long childhood feeds the hungry human brain
     A five-year old’s brain is an energy monster. It uses twice as much glucose (the energy that fuels the brain) as that of a full-grown adult, a new study led by Northwestern University anthropologists has found. The study helps to solve the long-standing mystery of why human children grow so slowly compared with our closest animal relatives. … Read more
  • Over 500 gas plumes found to be bubbling up in the ocean along the eastern US coast
    Methane streaming from the seafloor at ~425 meters (1400 ft) water depth offshore Virginia. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, 2013 Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition. A small team of researchers in the U.S. has discovered the presence of 570 bubble plumes along the Atlantic coast of the U.S. between North Carolina and Massachusetts—the plumes are believed to be methane seeps. In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the team describes their study of the seafloor and what the discovery of the plumes may mean for global warming.   … Read more
  • Cancer leaves a common fingerprint on DNA
    Regardless of their stage or type, cancers appear to share a telltale signature of widespread changes to the so-called epigenome, according to a team of researchers. In a study published online in Genome Medicine on Aug. 26, the investigators say they have found widespread and distinctive changes in a broad variety of cancers to chemical marks known as methyl groups attached to DNA, which help govern whether genes are turned “on” or “off,” and ultimately how the cell behaves. Such reversible chemical marks on DNA are known as epigenetic, and together they make up the epigenome. … Read more
  • Taung Child’s skull and brain not human-like in expansion
    The Taung Child, South Africa’s premier hominin discovered 90 years ago by Wits University Professor Raymond Dart, never seizes to transform and evolve the search for our collective origins. By subjecting the skull of the first australopith discovered to the latest technologies in the Wits University Microfocus X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) facility, researchers are now casting doubt on theories that Australopithecus africanus shows the same cranial adaptations found in modern human infants and toddlers – in effect disproving current support for the idea that this early hominin shows infant brain development in the prefrontal region similar to that of modern humans. … Read more
  • ‘Knowledge Vault’ is a massive database of facts
    Google is working on a global knowledge base that will automatically search for and merge data from the internet to offer entire global facts. It automatically gathers information from across the Internet using bots and interprets the results to build a knowledge-base based on facts. … Read more
  • Researchers find malicious behavior the norm in crowdsourcing contests
    Credit: George Hodan/Public Domain A small team of researchers with members from facilities in the U.K., Australia, and Saudi Arabia has found that when it comes to crowdsourcing contests, malicious behavior is the norm. In their paper published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the researchers describe how they applied game theory to data collected from crowdsourced contests and what their analysis revealed.   … Read more
  • Study shows readers absorb less information when reading on a Kindle
    Researchers at Stavanger University in Norway have found that people tend to absorb less information when reading on a Kindle versus printed paper. After being asked to read a short story written by Elizabeth George, people using a Kindle performed significantly worse on a test that measured plot reconstruction than did those that read the same story from a printed paperback book. The team has not published their results yet but did present what they’ve found to a group at a conference in Italy recently.   … Read more
  • Researchers reverse-engineering China’s online censorship methods reveal government’s deepest concerns
    The Chinese censorship decision tree. The pictures shown are examples of real (and typical) websites, along with our translations. Credit: Science 22 August 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6199. DOI: 10.1126/science.1251722 A trio of researchers, two from Harvard University and one from the University of California has used two broad techniques to better understand how online censorship works in China. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes how they set up their own Chinese web site in one part of their study and engaged in massive posting in the other, and what they learned as a result. Mara Hvistendahl offers an in depth perspective piece on the work by the trio in the same journal issue. … Read more
  • Scientists develop a water splitter that runs on an ordinary AAA battery
    Hongjie Dai and colleagues have developed a cheap, emissions-free device that uses a 1.5-volt battery to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen gas could be used to power fuel cells in zero-emissions vehicles. Stanford University Professor Hongjie Dai has developed an emissions-free electrolytic device that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen at room temperature. Mark Shwartz/Precourt Institute for Energy In 2015, American consumers will finally be able to purchase fuel cell cars from Toyota and other manufacturers. Although touted as zero-emissions vehicles, most of the cars will run on hydrogen made from natural gas, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming. … Read more
  • Neuroscientists show how neurons respond to sequences of familiar objects
    The world grows increasingly more chaotic year after year, and our brains are constantly bombarded with images. A new study from Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a joint project between Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, reveals how neurons in the part of the brain responsible for recognizing objects respond to being shown a barrage of images. The study is published online by Nature Neuroscience. … Read more
  • Study suggests repurposing anti-depressant medication to target medulloblastoma
    An international research team reports in Nature Medicine a novel molecular pathway that causes an aggressive form of medulloblastoma, and suggests repurposing an anti-depressant medication to target the new pathway may help combat one of the most common brain cancers in children. The multi-institutional group, led by scientists at Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute (CBDI) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, publish their results in the journal’s online edition on Aug. 24. The researchers suggest their laboratory findings in mouse models of the disease could lead to a more targeted and effective molecular therapy that would also reduce the harmful side effects of current treatments, which include chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. … Read more
  • ‘Just right’ plant growth may make river deltas resilient
    Freshwater marsh vegetation in Wax Lake Delta, La. Aquatic vegetation on low-elevation marshes is pictured in the foreground, while woody vegetation occupies a levee on the left. The open water in the distance is a deltaic distributary channel. Credit: Elizabeth Olliver, Indiana University Research by Indiana University geologists suggests that an intermediate amount of vegetation—not too little and not too much—is most effective at stabilizing freshwater river deltas. The study, “Optimum vegetation height and density for inorganic sedimentation in deltaic marshes,” was published online Aug. 24 by Nature Geoscience. The findings may help guide restoration of river deltas, such as those near the mouth of the Mississippi River, which are under threat as sea levels rise. Authors are William Nardin, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geological Sciences in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences; and Douglas A. Edmonds, who holds the Robert R. Shrock Professorship in Sedimentary Geology and is an assistant professor of geological sciences. Read more at: Phys.org … Read more
  • Signatures of selection inscribed on poplar genomes
    Genome-Wide Study Shows Evidence of Genetic Selection ORNL and DOE JGI researcher Jerry Tuskan talks about the poplar plantations and the importance of understanding selection athttp://bit.ly/Tuskan14fingerprints. One aspect of the climate change models researchers have been developing looks at how plant ranges might shift, and how factors such as temperature, water availability, and light levels might come into play. Forests creeping steadily north and becoming established in the thawing Arctic is just one of the predicted effects of rising global temperatures. … Read more
  • Neuroscience and big data: How to find simplicity in the brain
    Scientists can now monitor and record the activity of hundreds of neurons concurrently in the brain, and ongoing technology developments promise to increase this number manyfold. However, simply recording the neural activity does not automatically lead to a clearer understanding of how the brain works. In a new review paper published in Nature Neuroscience, Carnegie Mellon University’s Byron M. Yu and Columbia University’s John P. Cunningham describe the scientific motivations for studying the activity of many neurons together, along with a class of machine learning algorithms — dimensionality reduction — for interpreting the activity. … Read more
  • Mimicking natural evolution with ‘promiscuous reactions’ to improve the diversity of drugs
    A revolutionary new scientific method developed at the University of Leeds will improve the diversity of ‘biologically active molecules’, such as antibiotics and anti-cancer agents. The researchers, who report their findings online today in the journal Nature Chemistry, took their inspiration from evolution in nature. The research may uncover new pharmaceutical drugs that traditional methods would never have found. … Read more
  • Driving brain rhythm makes mice more sensitive to touch
    In a new study researchers show that they could make faint sensations more vivid by triggering a brain rhythm that appears to shift sensory attention. The study in mice, reported in Nature Neuroscience, provides the first direct evidence that the brain’s “gamma” rhythms have a causal role in processing the sense of touch. By striking up the right rhythm in the right brain region at the right time, Brown University neuroscientists report in Nature Neurosciencethat they managed to endow mice with greater touch sensitivity than other mice, making hard-to-perceive vibrations suddenly more vivid to them. … Read more
  • Bioengineers close to brewing opioid painkillers without using opium from poppies
    Genes from opium poppy and a bacterium were used to engineer yeast strains that biosynthesize opioids from precursors. The engineered yeast produce molecules identical to the natural and semi-synthetic opioid drugs manufactured from opium poppy crops, highlighting the potential for an alternative source of these essential drugs. Credit: Rachel Sakai. Composite image by Kate Thodey and Stephanie Galanie. For centuries poppy plants have been grown to provide opium, the compound from which morphine and other important medicines such as oxycodone are derived. Now bioengineers at Stanford have hacked the DNA of yeast, reprograming these simple cells to make opioid-based medicines via a sophisticated extension of the basic brewing process that makes beer. … Read more
  • Evolutionary history of honeybees revealed by genomics
    The honeybee is of crucial importance for humanity. One third of our food is dependent on the pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees and other insects. Credit: Matthew Webster In a study published in Nature Genetics, researchers from Uppsala University present the first global analysis of genome variation in honeybees. The findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in honeybees, and indicate that the species most probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as previously thought.   … Read more
  • Train your heart to protect your mind
    Exercising to improve our cardiovascular strength may protect us from cognitive impairment as we age, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated Institut universitaire de gératrie de Montréal Research Centre. “Our body’s arteries stiffen with age, and the vessel hardening is believed to begin in the aorta, the main vessel coming out of the heart, before reaching the brain. Indeed, the hardening may contribute to cognitive changes that occur during a similar time frame,” explained Claudine Gauthier, first author of the study. “We found that older adults whose aortas were in a better condition and who had greater aerobic fitness performed better on a cognitive test. We therefore think that the preservation of vessel elasticity may be one of the mechanisms that enables exercise to slow cognitive aging.” … Read more
  • ‘Robo Brain’ will teach robots everything from the Internet
    Robo Brain – a large-scale computational system that learns from publicly available Internet resources – is currently downloading and processing about 1 billion images, 120,000 YouTube videos, and 100 million how-to documents and appliance manuals. The information is being translated and stored in a robot-friendly format that robots will be able to draw on when they need it. … Read more
  • Facebook Analytics For App Links
    App Links is the open source, cross-platform solution for app to app linking. Company has announced that they’ve seen over 3 billion unique App Links created across hundreds of apps, since it’s launched in April 2014.  … Read more
  • The ethics of driverless cars
    Jason Millar, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Philosophy, spends a lot of time thinking about driverless cars. Though you aren’t likely to be able to buy them for 10 years, he says there are a number of ethical problems that need to be tackled before they go mainstream. “This isn’t an issue for the next generation, it’s happening right now. Driverless cars are on the road in certain jurisdictions as they’re being prepared for a mass market,” says Millar, whose dissertation focuses on robot ethics and the implications of increasingly autonomous machinery. “These cars promise safety benefits, but I’m interested in what happens to the cars in a difficult situation, one where lives are on the line.” … Read more
  • Rice physicist emerges as leader in quantum materials research
    “Emergent” is a key concept in the work of Rice University theoretical physicist Andriy Nevidomskyy, and thanks to two prestigious new awards, it is also an apt description of his work. Nevidomskyy, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, has won both a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA). … Read more
  • Super-black nano-coating to be tested for the first time in space
    A new carbon-nanotube coating is one of several materials to be tested on the International Space Station as part of the Materials Coating Experiment. The super-black material occupies the “D” slot on the sample tray. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Squicciarini An emerging super-black nanotechnology that promises to make spacecraft instruments more sensitive without enlarging their size will be tested for the first time on the International Space Station within a year. The nano-based material is a thin, highly uniform coating of multi-walled nanotubes made of pure carbon about 10,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair. “Though tested extensively in ground-based laboratories, the material has never flown in space,” said NASA Principal Investigator John Hagopian, an optics engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who has pioneered the technology’s development. “The objective is to determine how well this coating survives the harsh space environment.” … Read more
  • Researchers develop models to study polyelectrolytes, including DNA and RNA
    Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a novel and versatile modeling strategy to simulate polyelectrolyte systems. The model has applications for creating new materials as well as for studying polyelectrolytes, including DNA and RNA. Image credit: Yaroslava Yingling.  “Our new technique allows us to model much larger and more complex polyelectrolyte systems, and to do so much more quickly,” says Nan Li, lead author of a paper on the work and a Ph.D. student in NC State’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “This is a big step forward for this field.” … Read more
  • New process helps overcome obstacles to produce renewable fuels and chemicals
    There’s an old saying in the biofuels industry: “You can make anything from lignin except money.” But now, a new study may pave the way to challenging that adage. The study from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrates a concept that provides opportunities for the successful conversion of lignin into a variety of renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials for a sustainable energy economy. … Read more
  • You can’t write a CV on a smartphone – digital literacy is no help to unemployed youth
    How do I do a bullet point on this? Shutterstock couple on phones Concerns have been raised for some time about the UK government’s “digital by default” approach to welfare reforms. More and more public services are being shifted online and many fear that this will marginalise people who are not computer literate. But our research demonstrates that even the so-called digital generation – young people who seem to spend half their life online – are struggling just as much. They may be incredibly digitally literate in terms of social media, photo sharing and instant messaging; they may be highly discerning about the apps they use, but their digital culture is no help when they try to find a job. … Read more
  • Insulin offers new hope for the treatment of acute pancreatitis
    Scientists from The University of Manchester have discovered that insulin can protect the cells of the pancreas from acute pancreatitis – a disease for which there is currently no treatment. Dr Jason Bruce Acute pancreatitis involves the pancreas digesting itself resulting in severe abdominal pain, vomiting and systemic inflammation. Every year in the UK around 20,000 patients are diagnosed with the disease resulting in 1000 deaths. There is no immediate cure and treatment is restricted to intravenous fluid and nutritional support.  … Read more
  • From dandruff to deep sea vents, an ecologically hyper-diverse fungus
    A ubiquitous skin fungus linked to dandruff, eczema and other itchy, flaky maladies in humans has now been tracked to even further global reaches—including Hawaiian coral reefs and the extreme environments of arctic soils and deep sea vents. A review in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens considers the diversity, ecology and distribution of the fungi of the genus Malassezia in light of new insights gained from screening environmental sequencing datasets from around the world. … Read more
  • Alternate mechanism of species formation picks up support, thanks to a South American ant
    A queen ant of the parasitic species Mycocepurus castrator (l) and a queen ant of the host species Mycocepurus goeldii queen (r). (Photos by Christian Rabeling/University of Rochester) A newly-discovered species of ant supports a controversial theory of species formation. The ant, only found in a single patch of eucalyptus trees on the São Paulo State University campus in Brazil, branched off from its original species while living in the same colony, something thought rare in current models of evolutionary development. … Read more
  • Some anti-inflammatory drugs affect more than their targets
    Researchers have discovered that three commonly used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, alter the activity of enzymes within cell membranes. Their finding suggests that, if taken at higher-than-approved doses and/or for long periods of time, these prescription-level NSAIDs and other drugs that affect the membrane may produce wide-ranging and unwanted side effects. More positively, the researchers say, their work provides the basis for a test that drug developers can use to predict and perhaps avoid these side effects in new medicines they make. A summary of the results will be published online in the journal Cell Reports on Aug. 21. … Read more
  • Two polio vaccines may give greater protection against crippling disease
    Using two types of polio vaccines seems to provide stronger protection against the disease and may boost efforts to eradicate polio, a new study shows. The research involving nearly 1,000 children in India found that giving the Salk inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) to those who had already been given the Sabin live-attenuated oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) appeared to improve their immunity to the virus that causes polio. The findings, reported in the Aug. 22 issue of the journal Science, could prove crucial in eliminating the world’s remaining pockets of polio in places such as Iraq and Syria. “This study revolutionized our understanding of IPV and how to use it in the global eradication effort to ensure children receive the best and quickest protection possible from this disease,” study senior author Dr. Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general for Polio, Emergencies and Country Collaboration at the World Health Organization, said in a journal news release. “IPV should be used to accelerate the eradication of the virus in populations that have limited access to vaccination,” study author Dr. Hamid Jafari, WHO’s director for polio operations and research, said in the news release. “The study has also provided the evidence for use of IPV among travelers … Read more
  • Laser device may end pin pricks, improve quality of life for diabetics
    Princeton University researchers have developed a way to use a laser to measure people’s blood sugar, and, with more work to shrink the laser system to a portable size, the technique could allow diabetics to check their condition without pricking themselves to draw blood. “We are working hard to turn engineering solutions into useful tools for people to use in their daily lives,” said Claire Gmachl, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering and the project’s senior researcher. “With this work we hope to improve the lives of many diabetes sufferers who depend on frequent blood glucose monitoring.” … Read more
  • Marine protected areas might not be enough to help overfished reefs recover
    Pacific corals and fish can both smell a bad neighborhood, and use that ability to avoid settling in damaged reefs. Professors Hay and Dixson talk about their research in Fiji and why marine protected areas might not be enough to help overfished areas recover. … Read more
  • Sunlight, not microbes, key to CO2 in Arctic
    The vast reservoir of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost is gradually being converted to carbon dioxide (CO2) after entering the freshwater system in a process thought to be controlled largely by microbial activity. However, a new study – funded by the National Science Foundation and published this week in the journal Science – concludes that sunlight and not bacteria is the key to triggering the production of CO2 from material released by Arctic soils. … Read more
  • Children with autism have extra synapses in brain
    A neuron from the brain of young person with autism. A new study finds that young people with autism have excess synapses. Image: Guomei Tang and Mark S. Sonders/CUMC. Children and adolescents with autism have a surplus of synapses in the brain, and this excess is due to a slowdown in a normal brain “pruning” process during development, according to a study by neuroscientists at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Because synapses are the points where neurons connect and communicate with each other, the excessive synapses may have profound effects on how the brain functions. The study was published in the August 21 online issue of the journal Neuron. … Read more
  • Researchers use expanding gels to mimic creation of folds in mammalian brain
    Known empirical scaling laws for gray-matter volume and thickness are mapped on a g2 vs. R/T diagram. Corresponding simulations for spherical brain configurations, with images shown at a few points, show that the surface remains smooth for the smallest brains, but becomes increasingly folded as the brain size increases. Credit: (c) Tuomas Tallinen, PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1406015111     A team of researchers with members from facilities in Finland, the U.S., and the U.K. has found a way to mimic the process that leads to folds in mammalian brains. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they developed computer models to explain the development of folds in the cerebral cortex and then used what they’d learned to mimic the process using expanding gels.   … Read more
  • Severe drought is causing the western US to rise
    The severe drought gripping the western United States in recent years is changing the landscape well beyond localized effects of water restrictions and browning lawns. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have now discovered that the growing, broad-scale loss of water is causing the entire western U.S. to rise up like an uncoiled spring. … Read more
  • ITAR-TASS claims Russian cosmonauts have found sea plankton on outside of International Space Station
    The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-132 crew member on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. Credit: NASA/Crew of STS-132 The Russian news agency ITAR-TASS is claiming that Russian officials have confirmed that Russian cosmonauts have found sea plankton on the outside of the International Space Station. The news agency reports that the cosmonauts have also found traces of other organisms on the outside of the station as well. To date, no other news group has been able to confirm the report and thus far it appears no other agency, including NASA has been able to confirm the claims made by the Russians. Finding sea plankton on the outside of the ISS would be remarkable, as the outside of the station is of course exposed to space—a hostile environment, to say the least. NASA officials reported that they were aware that Russian cosmonauts were conducting experiments on the exterior of the space station (primarily on windows known as illuminators), but were unaware of what they entailed. Read more at: Phys.org … Read more
  • Canola genome sequence reveals evolutionary ‘love triangle’
    An international team of scientists including researchers from the University of Georgia recently published the genome of Brassica napus-commonly known as canola-in the journal Science. Their discovery paves the way for improved versions of the plant, which is used widely in farming and industry. Canola is grown across much of Canada and its native Europe, but the winter crop is increasingly cultivated in Georgia. Canola oil used for cooking is prized for its naturally low levels of saturated fat and rich supply of omega-3 fatty acids, but the plant is also used to produce feed for farm animals and as an efficient source for biodiesel. … Read more
  • Meteorite study indicates volcanic activity on early small asteroids
    The Almahata Sitta meteorite number 15 in-situ on the desert floor during its find on 2008 December 8, much as it fell on October 7 earlier that year. Credit: P. Jenniskens, SETI Institute Examination of one of the Almahata Sitta meteorites (aka, ALM-A, found in Sudan in 2008) by a team of space scientists working in Germany has revealed a volcanic past. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they dated the meteorite to just a few million years after our solar system was born and uncovered evidence that it suggests it was produced by volcanic activity. … Read more
  • Hot-spring bacteria reveal ability to use far-red light for photosynthesis
    Fluorescence image of microcolonies of theLeptolyngbya sp. strain of cyanobacteria cells (JSC-1) collected from a hot spring near Yellowstone National Park by Donald A. Bryant after growth in light provided from above only. The image shows that the cells grow towards the light. Image: Donald A. Bryant lab, Penn State University Bacteria growing in near darkness use a previously unknown process for harvesting energy and producing oxygen from sunlight, a research team led by a Penn State University scientist has discovered. The discovery lays the foundation for further research aimed at improving plant growth, harvesting energy from the Sun, and understanding dense blooms like those now occurring on Lake Erie and other lakes worldwide. A paper describing the discovery was published in the Science Express edition of the journal Science on Aug. 21. “We have shown that some cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, can grow in far-red wavelengths of light, a range not seen well by most humans,” said Donald A. Bryant, the Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State. “Most cyanobacteria can’t ‘see’ this light either. But we have found a new subgroup that can absorb and use it, and we … Read more
  • How hummingbirds evolved to detect sweetness
    Everything about hummingbirds is rapid. An iridescent blur to the human eye, their movements can be captured with clarity only by high-speed video. Slowed down on replay, their wings thrum like helicopter blades as they hover near food. Their hearts beat 20 times a second and their tongues dart 17 times a second to slurp from a feeding station. … Read more
  • Hacking Gmail with 92 percent success
    UC Riverside assistant professor is among group that develops novel method to attack apps on Android, and likely other, operating systems A team of engineers have developed a method that allows them to successfully hack into apps up to 92 percent of the time. A team of researchers, including an assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering, have identified a weakness believed to exist in Android, Windows and iOS mobile operating systems that could be used to obtain personal information from unsuspecting users. They demonstrated the hack in an Android phone. … Read more


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