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The Lead

What a “Star Wars” laser bullet really looks like

October 22, 2014 | Comments

Action-packed science-fiction movies often feature colorful laser bolts. But what would a real laser missile look like during flight, if we could only make it out? How would it illuminate its surroundings? The answers lie in a film made by researchers in Poland who have captured the passage of an ultrashort laser pulse through the air.

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R&D Daily

New insights on carbonic acid in water

October 23, 2014 8:42 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Though it garners few headlines, carbonic acid, the hydrated form of carbon dioxide, is critical to both the health of the atmosphere and the human body. However, because it exists for only a fraction of a second before changing into a mix of hydrogen and bicarbonate ions, carbonic acid has remained an enigma. A new study has yielded new information about carbonic acid with important implications for geological and biological concerns.

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Strengthening thin-film bonds with ultra-fast data collection

October 23, 2014 8:29 am | by Michael Baum, NIST | Comments

When studying extremely fast reactions in ultra-thin materials, two measurements are better than one. A new research tool invented by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Johns Hopkins Univ. and NIST captures information about both temperature and crystal structure during extremely fast reactions in thin-film materials.

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Microscopic “walkers” find their way across cell surfaces

October 23, 2014 8:14 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Nature has developed a wide variety of methods for guiding particular cells, enzymes and molecules to specific structures inside the body: White blood cells can find their way to the site of an infection, while scar-forming cells migrate to the site of a wound. But finding ways of guiding artificial materials within the body has proven more difficult.

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Some scientists share better than others

October 22, 2014 2:31 pm | Comments

While astronomers and geneticists embrace the concept, the culture of ecology still has a ways to go. Research by Michigan State Univ., published in the current issue of Bioscience, explores the paradox that although ecologists share findings via scientific journals, they do not share the data on which the studies are built.

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See-through sensors open new window into the brain

October 22, 2014 11:22 am | by Renee Meiller, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

Developing invisible implantable medical sensor arrays, a team of Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has overcome a major technological hurdle in researchers’ efforts to understand the brain. The team described its technology, which has applications in fields ranging from neuroscience to cardiac care and even contact lenses, in Nature Communications.

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Turning waste from whisky-making into fuel

October 22, 2014 10:09 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

A startup company in Scotland is working to capitalize on the tons of waste produced by one of the country’s most valued industries and turn the dregs of whisky-making into fuel. Celtic Renewables, formed in 2011, has refined its process based on a century-old fermentation technique and is now taking the next step toward a commercial plant.

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NASA Webb’s heart survives deep freeze test

October 22, 2014 9:05 am | by Laura Betz, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | Comments

After 116 days of being subjected to extremely frigid temperatures like that in space, the heart of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Integrated Science Instrument Module and its sensitive instruments, emerged unscathed from the thermal vacuum chamber at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Operating a telescope powerful enough to reveal the first galaxies forming 13.5 billion years ago requires incredibly cold temperatures: about -387 F.

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Could I squeeze by you?

October 22, 2014 8:15 am | by Breehan Gerleman Lucchesi, Communications Specialist, Ames Laboratory | Comments

Scientists at Ames Laboratory have developed deeper understanding of the ideal design for mesoporous nanoparticles used in catalytic reactions, such as hydrocarbon conversion to biofuels. The research will help determine the optimal diameter of channels within the nanoparticles to maximize catalytic output.

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Study: Graphene fragments speed up rate of chemical reactions

October 22, 2014 8:11 am | Comments

Researchers in Australia have discovered that nano-sized fragments of graphene have the ability to speed up the rate of chemical reactions. The finding is significant, say researchers, because it suggested that graphene might have potential applications in catalyzing chemical reactions of industrial importance.

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Garnet ceramics ideal for high-energy lithium batteries

October 22, 2014 8:06 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered exceptional properties in a garnet material that could enable development of higher-energy battery designs. The team used electron microscopy to take an atomic-level look at a cubic garnet material called LLZO. The researchers found the material to be highly stable in a range of aqueous environments, making the compound a promising component in new battery configurations.

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New 3-D printing algorithms speed production, reduce waste

October 22, 2014 7:51 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

New software algorithms have been shown to significantly reduce the time and material needed to produce objects with 3-D printers. Because the printers create objects layer-by-layer from the bottom up, this poses a challenge when printing overhanging or protruding features like a figure's outstretched arms. They must be formed using supporting structures—which are later removed—adding time and material to the process.

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Researchers advance genome editing technique

October 22, 2014 7:41 am | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | Comments

Customized genome editing has major potential for application in medicine, biotechnology, food and agriculture. Now, in a paper published in Molecular Cell, North Carolina State Univ. researchers and colleagues examine six key molecular elements that help drive this genome editing system, which is known as CRISPR-Cas.

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Ebola airport checks expand; nurses get training

October 22, 2014 3:28 am | by Connie Cass - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

The federal government is closing a gap in Ebola screening at airports while states from New York to Texas to California work to get hospitals and nurses ready in case another patient turns up somewhere in the U.S. with the deadly disease. Under the rule going into effect Wednesday, air travelers from the West African nations must enter the U.S. through one of five airports doing special screenings and fever checks for Ebola.

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Researchers take big data approach to estimate range of electric vehicles

October 21, 2014 10:58 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed new software that estimates how much farther electric vehicles can drive before needing to recharge. The new technique requires drivers to plug in their destination and automatically pulls in data on a host of variables to predict energy use for the vehicle.

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Big black holes can block new stars

October 21, 2014 10:46 am | by Dennis O'Shea, Johns Hopkins Univ. | Comments

Massive black holes spewing out radio frequency-emitting particles at near-light speed can block formation of new stars in aging galaxies, a study has found. The research provides crucial new evidence that it is these jets of radio frequency feedback streaming from mature galaxies’ central black holes that prevent hot free gas from cooling and collapsing into baby stars.

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