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Dancing electrons at the heart of a laser breakthrough

July 23, 2014 | by Joseph Blumberg, Dartmouth | Comments

A team of Dartmouth scientists and their colleagues have devised a breakthrough laser that uses a single artificial atom to generate and emit particles of light—and may play a crucial role in the development of quantum computers, which are predicted to eventually outperform even today’s most powerful supercomputers.

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Audit: NASA doesn't have the money for big rockets

July 24, 2014 8:14 am | Comments

The Government Accountability Office issued a report Wednesday saying NASA's Space Launch System is at "high risk of missing" its planned December 2017 initial test flight. The agency doesn't have enough money to get its new, $12 billion rocket system, the largest ever built, off the ground.

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Diseases of another kind

July 24, 2014 8:10 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | Comments

The drought that has the entire country in its grip is affecting more than the color of people’s lawns. It may also be responsible for the proliferation of a heat-loving amoeba commonly found in warm freshwater bodies, such as lakes, rivers and hot springs, which the drought has made warmer than usual this year.

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“Comb-on-a-chip” powers new atomic clock design

July 24, 2014 7:52 am | Comments

Researchers from NIST and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated a new design for an atomic clock that is based on a chip-scale frequency comb, or a microcomb. The microcomb clock, featured in Optica, is the first demonstration of all-optical control of the microcomb, and its accurate conversion of optical frequencies to lower microwave frequencies.

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Study: Forward osmosis desalination not energy efficient

July 24, 2014 7:37 am | by Alissa Mallinson | MIT Dept. of Mechanical Engineering | Comments

In a recent study published in the Journal of Membrane Science, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology team reported that, contrary to popular support, forward osmosis desalination of seawater is significantly less energy efficient, compared to reverse osmosis. In forward osmosis, water is drawn from the seawater into a concentrated salt solution, known as a draw solution.

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Study links enzyme to autistic behaviors

July 23, 2014 4:16 pm | by Iqbal Pittalwala, Univ. of California, Riverside | Comments

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a genetic disorder that causes obsessive compulsive and repetitive behaviors, and other behaviors on the autistic spectrum, as well as cognitive deficits. It’s the most common inherited cause of mental impairment and the most common cause of autism. Now biomedical scientists at the Univ. of California, Riverside have published a study that sheds light on the cause of autistic behaviors in FXS.

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Spinach could lead to alternative energy more powerful than Popeye

July 23, 2014 4:07 pm | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Spinach gave Popeye super strength, but it also holds the promise of a different power for a group of scientists: the ability to convert sunlight into a clean, efficient alternative fuel. Purdue Univ. physicists are part of an international group using spinach to study the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert the sun’s energy into carbohydrates used to power cellular processes.

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FDA approves Gilead Sciences drug for three cancers

July 23, 2014 1:22 pm | by The Associated Press | Comments

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved a new cancer drug from Gilead Sciences Inc. to treat three types of blood cancer. Regulators approved the drug for patients with forms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, follicular lymphoma and small lymphocytic lymphoma. The cancers affect an estimated 200,000 patients in the U.S., according to Gilead.

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A new approach in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence: Targeting alien polluters

July 23, 2014 11:09 am | by David A. Aguilar, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | Comments

Humanity is on the threshold of being able to detect signs of alien life on other worlds. By studying exoplanet atmospheres, we can look for gases like oxygen and methane that only coexist if replenished by life. But those gases come from simple life forms like microbes. What about advanced civilizations? Would they leave any detectable signs?

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Researchers pioneer a Google street view of galaxies

July 23, 2014 9:55 am | by Verity Leatherdale, Univ. of Sydney | Comments

A new home-grown instrument based on bundles of optical fibers is giving Australian astronomers the first “Google street view” of the cosmos—incredibly detailed views of huge numbers of galaxies. Developed by researchers at the Univ. of Sydney and the Australian Astronomical Observatory, the optical-fiber bundles can sample the light from up to 60 parts of a galaxy, for a dozen galaxies at a time.

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Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia

July 23, 2014 9:27 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | Comments

More than 100 researchers from around the world have collaborated in the biggest-ever genomic mapping of schizophrenia, for which scientists had previously uncovered only about a couple of dozen risk-related genes. Since this research began, scientists have linked more than 100 spots in our DNA to the risk of developing schizophrenia, casting light on the mystery of what makes the disease tick.

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World breaks monthly heat record two times in a row

July 23, 2014 8:54 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | Comments

The globe is on a hot streak, setting a heat record in June. That's after the world broke a record in May. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this week that last month's average global temperature was 61.2 degrees, which is 1.3 degrees higher than the 20th century average. It beat 2010's old record by one-twentieth of a degree.

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The geography of the global electronic waste burden

July 23, 2014 8:42 am | Comments

As local and national governments struggle to deal with ever-growing piles of electronic waste (e-waste), scientists are now refining the picture of just how much there is and where it really ends up. Published in Environmental Science & Technology, their study found that nearly a quarter of e-waste that developed countries discard floods into just seven developing countries.

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Researchers create vaccine for dust-mite allergies

July 23, 2014 8:32 am | by Richard C. Lewis, Univ. of Iowa | Comments

If you’re allergic to dust mites, help may be on the way. Researchers at the Univ. of Iowa have developed a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies by naturally switching the body’s immune response. In animal tests, the nano-sized vaccine package lowered lung inflammation by 83% despite repeated exposure to the allergens.

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Instrument enables high-speed chemical imaging of tissues

July 23, 2014 8:06 am | Comments

A research team from NIST, working with the Cleveland Clinic, has demonstrated a dramatically improved technique for analyzing biological cells and tissues based on characteristic molecular vibration "signatures." The new NIST technique is an advanced form of the widely used spontaneous Raman spectroscopy, but one that delivers signals that are 10,000 times stronger than obtained from spontaneous Raman scattering.

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Southwest Research Institute to lead joint industry project for separation tech

July 23, 2014 8:03 am | Comments

The launch of a multi-million dollar joint industry project this week by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) aims to better understand oil and gas separation technology. The Separation Technology Research Program (STAR Program) is a three-year effort open to operating companies, contractors and equipment manufacturers, and will combine industry knowledge and resources to advance research.

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