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Closest Rocky Exoplanet Discovered

August 1, 2015 11:45 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Articles | Comments

In February 1961, David Latham, now a senior astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was living in a one-room apartment with his wife. The newlyweds’ future was unwritten. Latham’s wife asked him what the couple’s plan for next year would be. Latham, a senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was unsure, but traveled to Harvard Univ.’s admissions office to look into graduate school.

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Roaming Tiger Sharks Give Clues to Conservation

July 31, 2015 8:45 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Articles | Comments

Gray with dark vertical stripes that run along their topsides, tiger sharks can inspire fear in the minds of the masses. Data gathered from the International Shark Attack File shows that between 1580 and 2014 there were 111 attacks. That’s second to the great white, whose attacks number 314.

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Experimental Ebola vaccine could stop virus in West Africa

July 31, 2015 2:45 pm | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

An experimental Ebola vaccine tested on thousands of people in Guinea seems to work and might help shut down the waning epidemic in West Africa, according to interim results from a study published Friday. There is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola, which has so far killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa since the world's biggest outbreak began in the forest region of Guinea last year.

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A novel electrode for optoelectronics

July 31, 2015 1:55 pm | by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for Materials and Energy | News | Comments

The electrodes for connections on the "sunny side" of a solar cell need to be not just electrically conductive, but transparent as well. As a result, electrodes are currently made either by using thin strips of silver in the form of a coarse-meshed grid squeegeed onto a surface, or by applying a transparent layer of electrically conductive indium tin oxide (ITO) compound.

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Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration

July 31, 2015 12:55 pm | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

A synthetic membrane that self-assembles and is easily produced may lead to better gas separation, water purification, drug delivery and DNA recognition, according to an international team of researchers. This biomimetic membrane is composed of lipids and protein-appended molecules that form water channels that transfer water at the rate of natural membranes, and self-assembles into 2-D structures with parallel channels.

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Quantum matter stuck in unrest

July 31, 2015 12:15 pm | by Ludwig Maximilian Univ. of Munich | News | Comments

What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water, the system has thermalized to a new thermal equilibrium. This is true not only when we pour cold milk into our hot coffee, but it is also what happens for almost all interacting systems we know in nature.

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Amid Dwindling Tree Population, Chimps Eat Clay for Minerals

July 31, 2015 12:15 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Articles | Comments

The chimpanzee sits atop a log. One hand is gripped onto a dangling branch, while the other is caked with clay. Gingerly, the primate cradles the clay into its mouth. After a mouthful, it wipes its hand on the log and gets off it. Univ. of Oxford researchers found that chimpanzees in Uganda’s Budongo Forest have started eating clay to boost the minerals in their diet.

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Plasmonic material could bring ultra-fast all-optical communications

July 31, 2015 11:40 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have created a new "plasmonic oxide material" that could make possible devices for optical communications that are at least 10 times faster than conventional technologies. In optical communications, laser pulses are used to transmit information along fiber-optic cables for telephone service, the Internet and cable television.

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Saltwater Lamps for Those in Need

July 31, 2015 9:00 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Articles | Comments

In first world countries, light and electricity may be something taken for granted. When one ambles into a business office, it’s uncommon to marvel at the fluorescents above when they flicker on. All it takes is the simple flip of a switch. The interplay between light and dark literally at one’s fingertips. However, that’s not how it is throughout the world.

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The challenge of mining rare-earth materials outside China

July 31, 2015 7:54 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Five years ago, the cost of rare-earth materials that are critical for today’s electronics went through the roof. An export quota set by China, which mines most of the world’s rare earths, caused the price run-up. Though short-lived, the occurrence spurred calls for developing mines outside China, but whether others can challenge the country’s dominance remains to be seen.

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Electric fields signal “no flies zone”

July 31, 2015 7:46 am | by Steven Williams, Univ. of Southampton | News | Comments

A new piece of research led by the Univ. of Southampton has found that the behavior of fruit flies, which are commonly used in laboratory experiments, is altered by electric fields. The research indicates that the wings of the insects are disturbed by static electric fields, leading to changes in avoidance behavior and the neurochemical balance of their brains.

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How to look for a few good catalysts

July 31, 2015 7:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Two key physical phenomena take place at the surfaces of materials: catalysis and wetting. A catalyst enhances the rate of chemical reactions; wetting refers to how liquids spread across a surface. Now researchers have found that these two processes, which had been considered unrelated, are in fact closely linked. The discovery could make it easier to find new catalysts for particular applications, among other potential benefits.

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Butterflies heat up solar research

July 31, 2015 7:35 am | by Duncan Sandes, Univ. of Exeter | News | Comments

The humble butterfly could hold the key to unlocking new techniques to make solar energy cheaper and more efficient, pioneering new research has shown. A team of experts from the Univ. of Exeter has examined new techniques for generating photovoltaic energy, or ways in which to convert light into power.

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Using light for ultra-fast DNA diagnostics

July 31, 2015 7:25 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

New technology developed by Univ. of California, Berkeley bioengineers promises to make a workhorse lab tool cheaper, more portable and many times faster by accelerating the heating and cooling of genetic samples with the switch of a light. This turbocharged thermal cycling greatly expands the clinical and research applications of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, with results ready in minutes instead of an hour or more.

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Calling an Old Antibiotic to the Plate

July 30, 2015 7:30 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Articles | Comments

Polymyxin B is an old antibiotic stepping into the modern day limelight. Discovered in the 1950s, and used in the early 1960s, the antibiotic has high rates of nephrotoxicity, or kidney toxicity. As alternative antibiotics became available, its use was diminished. Left on the backburner, it was only being called upon as a last resort in medical situations.

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