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Flight is Greener than Driving

April 27, 2015 | by Univ. of Michigan | Comments

Flying in a plane is not only safer than driving a car, it's also better for the environment. In follow-up research from last year, a study found that it takes twice as much energy to drive than to fly.

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Heat makes electrons spin in magnetic superconductors

April 28, 2015 10:31 am | by Academy of Finland | Comments

Physicists have shown how heat can be used to control the magnetic properties of matter. The finding helps in the development of more efficient mass memories. In the study, the researchers showed how heat is converted into a spin current in magnetic superconductors. Magnetic superconductors can be fabricated by placing a superconducting film on top of a magnetic insulator.

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When mediated by superconductivity, light pushes matter million times more

April 28, 2015 10:24 am | by University of Jyväskylä | Comments

When a mirror reflects light, it experiences a slight push. This radiation pressure can be increased considerably with the help of a small superconducting island. The finding paves a way for the studies of mechanical oscillations at the level of a single photon, the quantum of light.

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Universities Partner with NASA to Detect Life on Other Planets

April 28, 2015 8:58 am | by Stanford | Comments

The study of exoplanets– planets around other stars– is a relatively new field, but planet-hunting efforts have been prolific. The discovery of the first exoplanet around a star like our sun was made in 1995, and NASA's Kepler space telescope has detected more than 1,000 exoplanets in the past six years.

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Federal Rules on Hydrofracking are Good Start

April 28, 2015 8:47 am | by Stanford | Comments

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management recently revamped 25-year-old rules for oil and gas drilling on federal and Indian lands to deal with environmental concerns about hydraulic fracturing. Both sides of the environmental debate are on the attack.

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Simplified Electrolysis Produces Cheap Hydrogen

April 28, 2015 8:35 am | by EPFL | Comments

Scientists have developed a simplified and reliable device that should enable hydrogen production at low cost. Researchers were able to perform water electrolysis without using the expensive membrane placed between the electrodes in conventional systems.

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Weird Supernova Sheds Light on Gamma-ray Bursts

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by National Radio Astronomy Observatory | Comments

Astronomers have found a long-sought "missing link" between supernova explosions that generate gamma-ray bursts and those that don't. The scientists found that a stellar explosion seen in 2012 has many characteristics expected of one that generates a powerful burst of gamma rays, yet no such burst occurred.

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Factors Impact Fate of Sinking Carbon

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Comments

The researchers found that sinking particles of stressed and dying phytoplankton release chemicals that have a jolting, steroid-like effect on marine bacteria feeding on the particles. The chemicals juice up the bacteria’s metabolism causing them to more rapidly convert organic carbon in the particles back into CO2 before they can sink to the deep ocean.

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Cooling System Could Save U.S. $6.3B Per Year

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by The Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville | Comments

A patented passive cooling system for computer processors that's undergoing optimization could save U.S. consumers more than $6.3 billion per year in energy costs associated with running their computer cooling fans. Imagine what it could do if in global use.  

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Converter Accepts Different Power Sources

April 28, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Arkansas | Comments

Engineering researchers have invented a novel electrical power converter system that simultaneously accepts power from a variety of energy sources and converts it for use in the electrical grid system. Innovations in this field are critical as the U.S. moves toward integration of renewable energy sources to the national power grid.

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Molybdenum disulfide encapsulated between layers of boron nitride. Courtesy of Gwan-Hyoung Lee/Yonsei University

Two-dimensional semiconductor comes clean

April 27, 2015 2:39 pm | by Holly Evarts, Columbia University | Comments

In 2013 James Hone, Wang Fong-Jen Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia Engineering, and colleagues at Columbia demonstrated that they could dramatically improve the performance of graphene—highly conducting two-dimensional (2-D) carbon—by encapsulating it in boron nitride (BN), an insulating material with a similar layered structure.

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Researchers have developed membranes that can significantly reduce aircraft noise when inserted into the honeycomb structures used in aircraft design. Courtesy of Yun Jing, North Carolina State University

Lightweight membrane can significantly reduce in-flight aircraft noise

April 27, 2015 2:29 pm | by North Carolina State University | Comments

Riding in a helicopter or airplane can be a noisy experience for passengers. But researchers from North Carolina State University and MIT have developed a membrane that can be incorporated into aircraft to drastically reduce the low-frequency noise that penetrates the cabin.

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Negative electronic compressibility: More is less in novel material

April 27, 2015 2:19 pm | by Boston College | Comments

Add water to a half-filled cup and the water level rises. This everyday experience reflects a positive material property of the water-cup system. But what if adding more water lowers the water level by deforming the cup? This would mean a negative compressibility. Now, a quantum version of this phenomenon, called negative electronic compressibility (NEC), has been discovered.

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X-ray images from recent National Ignition Facility implosion experiments compare two shots with different thickness ablators, demonstrating the improvement in shape. Both shots used deuterium-tritium fuel and were fired at 350 terawatts of ultraviolet la

Thinner capsules yield faster implosions

April 27, 2015 1:03 pm | by Charlie Osolin, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | Comments

In National Ignition Facility (NIF) inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments, the fusion fuel implodes at a high speed in reaction to the rapid ablation, or blow-off, of the outer layers of the target capsule. To reach the conditions needed for ignition, the fuel must implode symmetrically at a peak velocity of about 350 kilometers per second—without producing hydrodynamic instabilities that can dampen the fusion reactions.

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Researchers have captured the first 3-D video of a living algal embryo turning itself inside out, from a sphere to a mushroom shape and back again. The results could help unravel the mechanical processes at work during a similar process in animals, which

Upside down and inside out

April 27, 2015 12:53 pm | by University of Cambridge | Comments

Researchers have captured the first 3-D video of a living algal embryo turning itself inside out, from a sphere to a mushroom shape and back again. The results could help unravel the mechanical processes at work during a similar process in animals, which has been called the “most important time in your life.”

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Juejun Hu and colleagues developed a way to embed very thin glass photonic devices such as flexible microdisk resonators and waveguides in alternating layers of soft and stiff polymers. Their flexible plastic device sustained being bent thousands of times

Bendable glass devices

April 27, 2015 12:43 pm | by Denis Paiste, MIT | Comments

A special class of glass materials known as chalcogenide glasses holds promise for speeding integration of photonic and electronic devices with functions as diverse as data transfer and chemical sensing. Juejun "JJ" Hu, the Merton C. Flemings Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, is finding new ways to deploy these glasses with surprising flexibility.

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