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Molecules for the masses

December 10, 2014 | by Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois | Videos | Comments

Scientists have created an app that brings molecules to life in a handheld device. Through the app, people can use up to eleven fingers to examine in great detail more than 350 molecules.                  

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R&D Daily

New conversion process turns biomass “waste” into lucrative chemical products

December 17, 2014 2:58 pm | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. Videos Comments

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel. A team of researchers from Purdue Univ.'s Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, or C3Bio, has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities.

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3-D maps reveal the genome’s origami code

December 15, 2014 8:13 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. Videos Comments

In a triumph for cell biology, researchers have assembled the first high-resolution, 3-D maps of entire folded genomes and found a structural basis for gene regulation—a kind of “genomic origami” that allows the same genome to produce different types of cells. The research appears online in Cell.

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3-D maps reveal the genome's origami code

December 12, 2014 7:00 am Videos Comments

In a triumph for cell biology, researchers have assembled the first high-resolution, 3-D maps of entire folded genomes and found a structural basis for gene regulation -- a kind of "genomic origami" that allows the same genome to produce different types of cells. 

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Detecting gases wirelessly, cheaply

December 8, 2014 3:54 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office Videos Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemists have devised a new way to wirelessly detect hazardous gases and environmental pollutants, using a simple sensor that can be read by a smartphone. These inexpensive sensors could be widely deployed, making it easier to monitor public spaces or detect food spoilage in warehouses.

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Technique offers spray-on solar power

December 8, 2014 8:18 am | by Marit Mitchell, Senior Communications Office, Univ. of Toronto Videos Comments

Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap. A Univ. of Toronto team has invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs)—a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.

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Electric eels deliver Taser-like shocks

December 5, 2014 9:23 am | by Vanderbilt Univ. Videos Comments

The electric eel—the scaleless Amazonian fish that can deliver an electrical jolt strong enough to knock down a full-grown horse—possesses an electroshock system uncannily similar to a Taser. That’s the conclusion of a nine-month study of the way in which the electric eel uses high-voltage electrical discharges to locate and incapacitate its prey. 

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Traces of biological activity inside meteorite

December 4, 2014 10:57 am | by EPFL Videos Comments

Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited the old debate. An international team that includes scientists from EPFL has published a paper in Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences, showing that Martian life is more probable than previously thought.

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Computer model enables design of complex DNA shapes

December 3, 2014 8:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office Videos Comments

Biological engineers have created a new computer model that allows them to design the most complex 3-D DNA shapes ever produced, including rings, bowls and geometric structures such as icosahedrons that resemble viral particles. This design program could allow researchers to build DNA scaffolds to anchor arrays of proteins and light-sensitive molecules called chromophores that mimic the photosynthetic proteins found in plant cells.

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Research shows way to design digital metamaterials

December 1, 2014 2:39 pm | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania Videos Comments

Metamaterials, precisely designed composite materials that have properties not found in natural ones, could be used to make light-bending invisibility cloaks, flat lenses and other otherwise impossible devices. Figuring out the necessary composition and internal structure to create these unusual effects is a challenge but new research from the Univ. of Pennsylvania presents a way of simplifying things.

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Microbullet hits confirm graphene’s strength

December 1, 2014 7:52 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. Videos Comments

Graphene’s great strength appears to be determined by how well it stretches before it breaks, according to Rice Univ. scientists who tested the material’s properties by peppering it with microbullets. The 2-D carbon honeycomb discovered a decade ago is thought to be much stronger than steel. But the scientists didn’t need even a pound of graphene to prove the material is on average 10 times better than steel at dissipating kinetic energy.

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Engineers climb walls using gecko-inspired climbing device

November 25, 2014 8:54 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford News Service Videos Comments

If you spot someone stuck to the sheer glass side of a building on the Stanford Univ. campus, it's probably Elliot Hawkes testing his dissertation work. Hawkes, a mechanical engineering graduate student, works with a team of engineers who are developing controllable, reusable adhesive materials that, like the gecko toes that inspire the work, can form a strong bond with smooth surfaces but also release with minimal effort.

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Researchers study impact of power prosthetic failures on amputees

November 24, 2014 8:43 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. Videos Comments

Powered lower limb prosthetics hold promise for improving the mobility of amputees, but errors in the technology may also cause some users to stumble or fall. New research examines exactly what happens when these technologies fail, with the goal of developing a new generation of more robust powered prostheses.

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Uncrackable code developed for nuclear weapons

November 20, 2014 10:07 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Videos Comments

Mark Hart, a scientist and engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has been awarded the 2015 Surety Transformation Initiative (STI) Award from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Enhanced Surety Program. The STI award aims to stimulate and encourage the development of potentially transformational nuclear weapon surety technologies and explore innovative, preferably monumental shift solutions, to unmet surety needs.

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Unique sense of “touch” gives a prolific bacterium its ability to infect anything

November 20, 2014 8:49 am | by Morgan Kelly, Office of Communications, Princeton Univ. Videos Comments

New research has found that one of the world's most prolific bacteria manages to afflict humans, animals and even plants by way of a mechanism not before seen in any infectious microorganism—a sense of touch. This unique ability helps make the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa ubiquitous, but it also might leave these antibiotic-resistant organisms vulnerable to a new form of treatment.

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Computer model sets new precedent in drug discovery

November 19, 2014 8:52 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Videos Comments

A major challenge faced by the pharmaceutical industry has been how to rationally design and select protein molecules to create effective biologic drug therapies while reducing unintended side effects—a challenge that has largely been addressed through costly guess–and–check experiments. Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. offer a new approach.

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