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SCU15 is a unique superconducting undulator for production of high-brilliance x-rays installed in the ANKA storage ring. Courtesy of KIT/ANKA/BNG

Novel superconducting undulator provides first X-ray light at ANKA

April 30, 2015 12:16 pm | by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology | Comments

Synchrotron radiation facilities provide insights into the world of very small structures like microbes, viruses or nanomaterials and rely on dedicated magnet technology, which is optimized to produce highest intensity beams. The ANKA synchrotron radiation facility at KIT and Babcock Noell GmbH now took a technological leap forward: They have successfully developed, installed, and tested a novel full-length superconducting undulator.

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In a diffusive light-scattering medium, light moves on random paths (see magnifying glass). A normal object (left) casts a shadow, an object with an invisibility cloak (right) does not. Courtesy of R. Schittny / KIT

No Hogwarts invitation required: Invisibility cloaks move into real-life classroom

April 30, 2015 11:54 am | by The Optical Society | Comments

Who among us hasn't wanted to don a shimmering piece of fabric and instantly disappear from sight? Unfortunately, we non-magical folk are bound by the laws of physics, which have a way of preventing such fantastical escapes. Real-life invisibility cloaks do exist. Researchers have developed a portable invisibility cloak that can be taken into classrooms. It can't hide a human, but it can make small objects disappear from sight.

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The accelerator of the compact light source. Courtesy of Klaus Achterhold / TUM

Compact synchrotron makes tumors visible

April 30, 2015 11:39 am | by Technische Universität München | Comments

Soft tissue disorders like tumors are very difficult to recognize using normal X-ray machines. There is hardly any distinction between healthy tissue and tumors. Researchers at the Technische Universität München have now developed a technology using a compact synchrotron source that measures not only X-ray absorption, but also phase shifts and scattering. Tissue that is hardly recognizable using traditional X-ray machines is now visible.

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High-resolution images, taken through the observatory’s New Solar Telescope, show the atmosphere above the umbrae to be finely structured, consisting of hot plasma intermixed with cool plasma jets as wide as 100 kilometers.

NJIT's new solar telescope unveils the complex dynamics of sunspots' dark cores

April 30, 2015 11:22 am | by New Jersey Institute of Technology | Comments

Groundbreaking images of the Sun captured by scientists at NJIT’s Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) give a first-ever detailed view of the interior structure of umbrae—the dark patches in the center of sunspots—revealing dynamic magnetic fields responsible for the plumes of plasma that emerge as bright dots interrupting their darkness.

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Inflammatory immune cells can flip the genetic script

April 30, 2015 8:47 am | by Ziba Kashef, Yale Univ. | Comments

A type of immune cell that promotes inflammation during the immune response, TH17, can convert into another type of cell that reduces inflammation, Yale Univ. researchers have found. The finding, published in Nature, points to a possible therapeutic strategy for inflammation-mediated diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Chemists cook up three-atom-thick electronic sheets

April 30, 2015 8:41 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | Comments

Making thin films out of semiconducting materials is analogous to how ice grows on a windowpane: When the conditions are just right, the semiconductor grows in flat crystals that slowly fuse together, eventually forming a continuous film. This process of film deposition is common for traditional semiconductors like silicon or gallium arsenide, but Cornell Univ. scientists are pushing the limits for how thin they can go.

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Artificial photosynthesis could help make fuels, plastics and medicine

April 30, 2015 8:15 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

The global industrial sector accounts for more than half of the total energy used every year. Now scientists are inventing a new artificial photosynthetic system that could one day reduce industry’s dependence on fossil fuel-derived energy by powering part of the sector with solar energy and bacteria.

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The trillion-frame-per-second camera

April 30, 2015 8:09 am | by Rebecca B. Andersen, The Optical Society | Comments

When a crystal lattice is excited by a laser pulse, waves of jostling atoms can travel through the material at close to one sixth the speed of light, or approximately 28,000 mps. Scientists now have a new tool to take movies of such superfast movement in a single shot. Researchers from Japan have developed a new high-speed camera that can record events at a rate of more than one-trillion-frames-per-second.

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Illuminating the dark zone

April 30, 2015 8:01 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | Comments

The human body is a cross between a factory and a construction zone; at least on the cellular level. Certain proteins act as project managers, which direct a wide variety of processes and determine the fate of the cell as a whole. One group of proteins called the WD-repeat (WDR) family helps a cell choose which of the thousands of possible gene products it should manufacture.

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The Pillars of Creation revealed in 3-D

April 30, 2015 7:51 am | by Richard Hook, ESO, Public Information Officer | Comments

Using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers have produced the first complete 3-D view of the famous Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula, Messier 16. The new observations demonstrate how the different dusty pillars of this iconic object are distributed in space and reveal many new details.

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“The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit”—was prepared by a committee of MIT researchers and research administrators. Examining how funding cutbacks will affect the future of scientific studies

New MIT report details benefits of investment in basic research

April 29, 2015 2:24 pm | by Abby Abazorius, MIT | Comments

Last year was a notable one for scientific achievements: In 2014, European researchers discovered a fundamental new particle that sheds light on the origins of the universe, and the European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft on a comet. Chinese researchers, meanwhile, developed the world’s fastest supercomputer, and uncovered new ways to meet global food demand.

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Engineers at Oregon State University have successfully field tested their walking robot, ATRIAS. Courtesy of Oregon State University

Inspired by humans, a robot takes a walk in the grass

April 29, 2015 2:14 pm | by Oregon State University | Comments

In a rolling, outdoor field, full of lumps, bumps and uneven terrain, researchers at Oregon State University last week successfully field-tested for the first time the locomotion abilities of a two-legged robot with technology that they believe heralds the running robots of the future.

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Genetic testing moves into world of employee health

April 29, 2015 2:07 pm | by Tom Murphy, AP Business Writer, Associated Press | Comments

Your employer may one day help determine if your genes are why your jeans have become too snug. Big companies are considering blending genetic testing with coaching on nutrition and exercise to help workers lose weight and improve their health before serious conditions like diabetes or heart disease develop.

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A dye-doped PNLC cell in the transparent and opaque states, placed on a printed sheet of paper. In the transparent state, the clear background image can be seen because of the high transmittance of this cell. In the opaque state, black color is provided a

Windows that act like an LCD screen

April 29, 2015 2:04 pm | by John Arnst, American Institute of Physics | Comments

The secret desire of urban daydreamers staring out their office windows at the sad brick walls of the building opposite them may soon be answered thanks to transparent light shutters. A novel liquid crystal technology allows displays to flip between transparent and opaque states— hypothetically letting you switch your view in less than a millisecond from urban decay to the Chesapeake Bay.

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The trillion-frame-per-second camera

April 29, 2015 1:58 pm | by The Optical Society | Comments

hen a crystal lattice is excited by a laser pulse, waves of jostling atoms can travel through the material at close to one sixth the speed of light, or approximately 28,000 miles/second. Scientists now have a new tool to take movies of such superfast movement in a single shot.

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