BP's strategy after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy: Go deeper. BP is leading an industry-wide push to develop technology that can retrieve oil from formations that are so deep under the sea floor, and under such high pressure and temperature, that conventional equipment would melt or be crushed by the conditions.
The solar panel installer SolarCity is beginning to address one of solar power's big drawbacks: The sun doesn't always shine. The solution: big battery packs that will provide backup power while lowering electric bills. The supplier: electric car maker Tesla Motors, whose CEO Elon Musk is also the chairman of SolarCity.
The outer shell of a droplet of oil on a surface has a thin skin which allows it to hold its shape like a small dome. Researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have developed a technique to form a virtual wall for oily liquids that will help confine them to a certain area, aiding researchers who are studying these complex molecules. The finding could also help halt industrial oil spills.
At high pressures and low temperatures, such as those in the deep oceans, carbon dioxide occurs as a liquid that is denser than seawater. Researchers in England have identified regions beneath the oceans where the igneous rocks of the upper ocean crust could safely store very large volumes of carbon dioxide.
While 3-D pens and printers are enjoyed by students, artists and makers, innovative American companies are using similar equipment to manufacture aerospace, automotive and medical technologies. Many of the foundational techniques for additive manufacturing, such as selective laser sintering, sheet lamination and 3-D printing, have their roots in discoveries and patents from the 1980s.
A multinational team led by Chinese researchers in collaboration with U.S. and European partners has successfully demonstrated a novel technique for suppressing instabilities that can cut short the life of controlled fusion reactions. The team combined the new technique with a method that Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has developed for protecting the walls that surround the hot, charged plasma gas that fuels fusion reactions.
Scientists at Penn State Univ. have developed a method that enables a more accurate prediction of how ribonucleic acid molecules (RNAs) fold within living cells, shedding new light on how plants, as well as other living organisms, respond to environmental conditions. The advance was made possible by the ability to analyze more than 10,000 RNA molecules in a single cell.
Thermo Fisher Scientific has introduced its enhanced Thermo Scientific general-purpose centrifuge line. The centrifuges feature increased capacity and flexibility with rotor innovation including the new Thermo Scientific TX-1000 rotor, which employs a 4-L capacity in a traditional 3-L footprint.
Agilent Technologies Inc. has introduced its 7500 atomic force microscope (AFM), an advanced instrument that achieves atomic resolution imaging with its 90 um AFM closed-loop scanner. The microscope platform is designed to extend the frontier of atomic force microscopy for academia and industry by offering high resolution and precise environmental and temperature control.
With support from the Photosynthetic Systems Div. at the U.S. Dept. of Energy, researchers in the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are expanding a successful research program to uncover the minute workings of the photosynthetic protein, Photosystem II. The high-impact research, led by prof. K.V. Lakshmi, seeks to adapt photosynthesis for artificial use as an abundant source of renewable energy.
A collaboration of physicists and engineers has found a new way to control electron spins not with a magnetic field but with a mechanical oscillator. This demonstration of electron spin resonance that’s “shaken, not stirred” showed that an oscillator can drive the transitions of electron spins within defects commonly found in the crystal lattice of a diamond.
Much of what is known about sensory touch and hearing cells is based on indirect observation. Scientists know that these tiny cells are sensitive to changes in force and pressure. But to truly understand how they function, scientists must be able to manipulate them directly. Now, Stanford Univ. scientists are developing a set of tools that are small enough to stimulate an individual nerve or group of nerves.
A team working at the SACLA x-ray Free-Electron Laser in Japan has, for the first time, succeeded in generating ultra-bright, two-color x-ray laser pulses in the hard x-ray region. These light pulses have different wavelengths whose time separation can be adjusted with attosecond accuracy. They could be powerful tools for investigating the structure of matter and the dynamics of ultrafast physical processes and chemical reactions.
Using the powerful eye of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets. The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived. A team of physicists believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.