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Scientists produce thinnest feasible membrane

April 18, 2014 | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | Comments

Researchers have produced a stable porous membrane that is thinner than a single nanometer. The membrane consists of two layers of graphene on which have been etched tiny pores of a precisely defined size. Extremely light and breathable, the new material could help enable a new generation of ultra-rapid filters or functional waterproof clothing.

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Unlocking a mystery of human disease in space

April 21, 2014 7:45 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | Comments

Huntington's disease is a grim diagnosis. A hereditary disorder with debilitating physical and cognitive symptoms, the disease usually robs adult patients of their ability to walk, balance and speak. More than 15 years ago, researchers revealed the disorder's likely cause—an abnormal version of the protein huntingtin; however, the mutant protein's mechanism is poorly understood, and the disease remains untreatable.

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Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

April 21, 2014 4:21 am | by Jennifer Agiesta - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they express bigger doubts as concepts that scientists consider to be truths get further from our own experiences and the present time, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Americans have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago.

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Easter morning delivery for space station

April 20, 2014 8:20 am | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via a Dragon, versus a bunny. The SpaceX company's cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. Astronauts used a robot arm to capture the capsule 260 miles above Egypt.

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Hawaii is genetically engineered crop flash point

April 19, 2014 10:20 am | by Audrey Mcavoy - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

You can trace the genetic makeup of most corn grown in the U.S., and in many other places around the world, to Hawaii. The tiny island state 2,500 miles from the nearest continent is so critical to the nation's modern corn-growing business that the industry's leading companies all have farms here, growing new varieties genetically engineered for desirable traits like insect and drought resistance.

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NASA's moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

April 18, 2014 10:28 am | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | Comments

NASA's robotic moon explorer, LADEE, is no more. Flight controllers confirmed Friday that the orbiting spacecraft crashed into the back side of the moon as planned, just three days after surviving a full lunar eclipse, something it was never designed to do. Researchers believe LADEE likely vaporized when it hit because of its extreme orbiting speed of 3,600 mph, possibly smacking into a mountain or side of a crater.

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Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

April 18, 2014 10:22 am | by Mark Nickel, Brown Univ. | Comments

Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists exploring large fields of impact glass in Argentina suggest that what happened on Earth might well have happened on Mars millions of years ago. Martian impact glass could hold traces of organic compounds.

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Impurity size affects performance of emerging superconductive material

April 18, 2014 8:45 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Research from North Carolina State Univ. finds that impurities can hurt performance, or possibly provide benefits, in a key superconductive material that is expected to find use in a host of applications, including future particle colliders. The size of the impurities determines whether they help or hinder the material’s performance.

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Pocket-sized anthrax detector aids global agriculture

April 18, 2014 8:36 am | by Stephanie Holinka, Sandia National Laboratories | Comments

A credit-card-sized anthrax detection cartridge developed at Sandia National Laboratories and recently licensed to a small business makes testing safer, easier, faster and cheaper. Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax, is commonly found in soils all over the world and can cause serious, and often fatal, illness in both humans and animals.

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Electrically controlled polymer changes its optical properties

April 18, 2014 8:28 am | Comments

An international team of chemists from Italy, Germany and Poland have developed a polymer with unique optical and electrical properties. Components of this polymer change their spatial configuration depending on the electric potential applied. In turn, the polarization of transmitted light is affected. The new material could be used in a windows, polarization filters or chemical sensors.

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Researchers predict signs of black holes swallowing stars

April 18, 2014 8:19 am | by Aaron Dubrow, National Science Foundation | Comments

Somewhere out in the cosmos an ordinary galaxy spins, seemingly at slumber. Then all of a sudden, WHAM! A flash of light explodes from the galaxy's center. A star orbiting too close to the event horizon of the galaxy's central supermassive black hole has been torn apart by the force of gravity, heating up its gas and sending out a beacon to the far reaches of the universe.

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High-temperature plasmonics eyed for solar, computer innovation

April 18, 2014 8:09 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

New plasmonic metamaterials that operate at high temperatures could radically improve solar cell performance and bring advanced computer data storage technology that uses heat to record information on a magnetic disk. The materials could make it possible to harness clouds of electrons called surface plasmons to manipulate and control light.

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Surprising material could play role in saving energy

April 18, 2014 7:56 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

One strategy for addressing the world’s energy crisis is to stop wasting so much energy when producing and using it, which can happen in coal-fired power plants or transportation. Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat. Now Northwestern Univ. scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity.

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Multi-target TB drug could treat other disease, evade resistance

April 18, 2014 7:47 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Comments

A drug under clinical trials to treat tuberculosis could be the basis for a class of broad-spectrum drugs that act against various bacteria, fungal infections and parasites, yet evade resistance, according to a study by Univ. of Illinois chemists and collaborators. The team determined the different ways the drug SQ109 attacks the tuberculosis bacterium and how the drug can be tweaked to target other pathogens from yeast to malaria.

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A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

April 17, 2014 3:11 pm | Comments

The solar lamp developed by a start-up in Switzerland is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people in the world. Designed to be made by anyone, these solar-powered light-emitting diode lamps require nothing more than locally-found equipment. Only the solar panels are ordered from abroad.

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Proper stem cell function requires hydrogen sulfide

April 17, 2014 3:02 pm | by Beth Newcomb, USC | Comments

A new study has discovered that stem cells in bone marrow need to produce hydrogen sulfide in order to properly multiply and form bone tissue. The presence of hydrogen sulfide produced by the cells governs the flow of calcium ions, which activates a chain of cellular signals that results in osteogenesis, or the creation of new bone tissue, and keeps the breakdown of old bone tissue at a proper level.

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