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Seven tiny grains captured by Stardust likely visitors from intersteller space

August 15, 2014 | by Robert Sanders, Univ. of California, Berkeley | Comments

Since 2006, when NASA’s Stardust spacecraft delivered its aerogel and aluminum foil dust collectors back to Earth, a team of scientists has combed through them. They now report finding seven dust motes that probably came from outside our solar system, perhaps created in a supernova explosion and altered by eons of exposure to the extremes of space. They would be the first confirmed samples of contemporary interstellar dust.

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Programmed to fold: RNA origami

August 21, 2014 8:27 am | by Katie Neith, California Institute of Technology | Comments

Researchers from Aarhus Univ. and Caltech have developed a new method for organizing molecules on the nanoscale. Inspired by techniques used for folding DNA origami, the team fabricated complicated shapes from DNA's close chemical cousin, RNA. Unlike DNA origami, whose components are chemically synthesized and then folded in an artificial heating and cooling process, RNA origami are enzymatically synthesized.

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Nuclear reactor reliability: Fast test proves viable

August 21, 2014 8:12 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

A speedy way to mimic the aging of materials inside nuclear reactors has matched all aspects of the damage sustained by a real reactor component for the first time. The method could help the U.S. and other countries stay ahead of potential problems in reactors that run for 40 years or more and also test materials for building advanced reactors.

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Treating pain by blocking the chili-pepper receptor

August 21, 2014 8:00 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

As anyone who has bitten into a chili pepper knows, its burning spiciness—though irresistible to some—is intolerable to others. Scientists exploring the chili pepper’s effect are using their findings to develop a new drug candidate for many kinds of pain, which can be caused by inflammation or other problems. They reported their progress on the compound, which is being tested in clinical trials, in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

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Unlocking the potential of simulation software

August 21, 2014 7:44 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | Comments

With a method known as finite element analysis (FEA), engineers can generate 3-D digital models of large structures to simulate how they’ll fare under stress, vibrations, heat and other real-world conditions. Used for mapping out large-scale structures, these simulations require intensive computation done by powerful computers over many hours, costing engineering firms much time and money.

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Drug for Ebola-like virus promising in ill monkeys

August 20, 2014 3:23 pm | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Texas researchers are reporting that an experimental drug saved monkeys from a virus closely related to Ebola even after symptoms began. The drug targets a strain of Marburg virus that is even more lethal than the Ebola currently ravaging West Africa. Both viruses take time to multiply in the body before symptoms appear, and few studies have explored how late treatment might be effective.

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Could elastic bands monitor patients’ breathing?

August 20, 2014 11:39 am | Comments

Research published in ACS Nano identifies a new type of sensor that could monitor body movement and advance the future of global health care. Although body motion sensors already exist in different forms, they have not been widely used due to their complexity and cost of production.

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Many patients don’t understand electronic lab results

August 20, 2014 10:48 am | by Laurel Thomas Gnagey, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

While it's becoming commonplace for patients to see the results of laboratory work electronically, a new Univ. of Michigan study suggests that many people may not be able to understand what those numbers mean. The research found that people with low comprehension of numerical concepts—or numeracy—and low literacy skills were less than half as likely to understand whether a result was inside or outside the reference ranges.

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Research paves way for development of cyborg moth “biobots”

August 20, 2014 9:46 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

North Carolina State Univ. researchers have developed methods for electronically manipulating the flight muscles of moths and for monitoring the electrical signals moths use to control those muscles. The work opens the door to the development of remotely-controlled moths, or “biobots,” for use in emergency response.

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Researchers create engineered energy-absorbing material

August 20, 2014 9:36 am | by James A Bono, LLNL | Comments

Materials like solid gels and porous foams are used for padding and cushioning, but each has its own advantages and limitations. To overcome limitations, a team from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has found a way to design and fabricate, at the microscale, new cushioning materials with a broad range of programmable properties and behaviors that exceed the limitations of the material's composition through 3-D printing.

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Exporting coal to Asia could slash emissions

August 20, 2014 9:26 am | by Tim Lucas, Duke Univ. | Comments

Under the right scenario, exporting U.S. coal to power plants in South Korea could lead to a 21% drop in greenhouse gas emissions compared to burning the fossil fuel at plants in the U.S., according to a new Duke Univ.-led study. For the reduction to occur, U.S. plants would need to replace the exported coal with natural gas. And in South Korea, the imported coal must replace other coal as the power source.

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Engineers take step toward photonic circuits

August 20, 2014 8:35 am | by Richard Cairney, Univ. of Alberta | Comments

The invention of fiber optics revolutionized the way we share information, allowing us to transmit data at volumes and speeds we’d only previously dreamed of. Now, electrical engineering researchers at the Univ. of Alberta are breaking another barrier, designing nano-optical cables small enough to replace the copper wiring on computer chips.

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Bubbling down: Discovery suggests surprising uses for common bubbles

August 20, 2014 8:29 am | by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton Univ. | Comments

Anyone who has ever had a glass of fizzy soda knows that bubbles can throw tiny particles into the air. But in a finding with wide industrial applications, Princeton Univ. researchers have demonstrated that the bursting bubbles push some particles down into the liquid as well.

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NMR using Earth’s magnetic field

August 20, 2014 8:19 am | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Earth’s magnetic field, a familiar directional indicator over long distances, is routinely probed in applications ranging from geology to archaeology. Now it has provided the basis for a technique which might, one day, be used to characterize the chemical composition of fluid mixtures in their native environments.

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Solar energy that doesn’t block the view

August 20, 2014 8:05 am | by Tom Oswald, Media Communications, Michigan State Univ. | Comments

A team of researchers at Michigan State Univ. has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.

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Biomarker in aggressive breast cancer identified

August 20, 2014 7:53 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

Two Northwestern Univ. scientists have identified a biomarker strongly associated with basal-like breast cancer, a highly aggressive carcinoma that is resistant to many types of chemotherapy. The biomarker, a protein called STAT3, provides a smart target for new therapeutics designed to treat this often deadly cancer.

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