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Scientists trace nanoparticles from plants to caterpillars

December 16, 2014 2:37 pm | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Comments

In one of the most comprehensive laboratory studies of its kind, Rice Univ. scientists traced the uptake and accumulation of quantum dot nanoparticles from water to plant roots, plant leaves and leaf-eating caterpillars. The study found that nanoparticle accumulation in both plants and animals varied significantly depending upon the type of surface coating applied to the particles.

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New tracers can identify coal ash contamination in water

December 16, 2014 2:20 pm | by Tim Lucas, Duke Univ. | Comments

Duke Univ. scientists have developed new forensic tracers to identify coal ash contamination in water and distinguish it from contamination coming from other sources. Previous methods to identify coal ash contaminants in the environment were based solely on the contaminants’ chemical variations. The newly developed tracers provide additional forensic fingerprints that give regulators a more accurate and systematic tool.

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Turning hydrogen into “graphene”

December 16, 2014 2:13 pm | by Carnegie Institute | Comments

New work from Carnegie Institute's Ivan Naumov and Russell Hemley delves into the chemistry underlying some surprising recent observations about hydrogen, and reveals remarkable parallels between hydrogen and graphene under extreme pressures.

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Researchers generate tunable photon-pair spectrum

December 16, 2014 9:14 am | by Univ. of California, San Diego | Comments

A team of researchers have demonstrated a way to emit and control quantum light generated using a chip made from silicon—one of the most widely used materials for modern electronics. The researchers say practical applications of quantum optics will seem more feasible if devices for generating and controlling these photons can be manufactured using conventional materials from the semiconductor industry.

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Carbon-trapping “sponges” can cut greenhouse gases

December 16, 2014 8:56 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | Comments

In the fight against global warming, carbon capture is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. Using a bag of chemistry tricks, Cornell Univ. materials scientists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping “sponges” that could lead to increased use of the technology.

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Is the Higgs boson a piece of the matter-antimatter puzzle?

December 16, 2014 8:28 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | Comments

Several experiments, including the BaBar experiment at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, have helped explain some, but not all, of the imbalance between matter and antimatter in the universe. Now a SLAC theorist and his colleagues have laid out a possible method for determining if the Higgs boson is involved.

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Getting bot responders into shape

December 16, 2014 8:15 am | by Stephanie Holinka, Sandia National Laboratories | Comments

Sandia National Laboratories is tackling one of the biggest barriers to the use of robots in emergency response: energy efficiency. Through a project supported by DARPA, Sandia is developing technology that will dramatically improve the endurance of legged robots, helping them operate for long periods while performing the types of locomotion most relevant to disaster response scenarios.

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All-electric cars may be worse for environment

December 16, 2014 8:02 am | by Associated Press, Seth Borenstein | Comments

People who own all-electric cars where coal generates the power may think they are helping the environment. But a new study finds their vehicles actually make the air dirtier, worsening global warming. Ethanol isn't so green, either. The study examines environmental costs for cars' entire lifecycle, including where power comes from and the environmental effects of building batteries.

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Proteins drive cancer cells to change states

December 16, 2014 7:50 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology implicates a family of RNA-binding proteins in the regulation of cancer, particularly in a subtype of breast cancer. These proteins, known as Musashi proteins, can force cells into a state associated with increased proliferation.

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Cancer patients employ mice as avatars

December 15, 2014 3:23 pm | by Associated Press, Marilynn Marchione | Comments

Scientists often test drugs in mice. Now some cancer patients are doing the same—with the hope of curing their own disease. They are paying a private lab to breed mice that carry bits of their own tumors so treatments can be tried first on the customized rodents. The idea is to see which drugs might work best on a specific person's cancer.

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Fraud-proof credit cards possible with quantum physics

December 15, 2014 3:11 pm | by Lyndsay Meyer, The Optical Society | Comments

Credit card fraud and identify theft are serious problems for consumers and industries. Though corporations and individuals work to improve safeguards, it has become increasingly difficult to protect financial data and personal information from criminal activity. Fortunately, new insights into quantum physics may soon offer a solution.

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New algorithm a Christmas gift to 3-D printing

December 15, 2014 2:23 pm | by Carol Thorbes, Univ. Communications, Simon Fraser Univ. | Comments

Just in time for Christmas, Simon Fraser Univ. computing science professor Richard Zhang reveals how to print a 3-D Christmas tree efficiently and with zero material waste, using the world’s first algorithm for automatically decomposing a 3-D object into what are called pyramidal parts. A pyramidal part has a flat base with the remainder of the shape forming upwards over the base with no overhangs, much like a pyramid.

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Using liquid drops to make solids stiffer

December 15, 2014 2:13 pm | by Rase McCry, Yale Univ. | Comments

Engineers at Yale Univ. have discovered that the stiffness of liquid drops embedded in solids has something in common with Goldilocks: While large drops of liquids are softer than the solid that surrounds them, extremely tiny drops of liquid can actually be stiffer than certain solids. But when they’re “just right,” the liquid drops have the exact same stiffness as the surrounding solid.

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Local market conditions, policies strongly influence solar PV pricing

December 15, 2014 2:03 pm | by Allan Chen, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Differences in local market conditions and policies, and other factors, particularly the size of the system, can lead to wide disparities in what consumers across the U.S. pay to install solar energy systems on their homes or small businesses, according to a recent study published by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This translates into thousands of dollars difference in the price of comparable solar energy systems around the U.S.

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Past global warming similar to today’s, but in two pulses

December 15, 2014 1:54 pm | by Jim Erickson, University of Michigan | Comments

The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, researchers at the Univ. of Utah, the Univ. of Michigan and three other universities found.

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