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New technique could bring quality-control tool for nanocomposites

March 23, 2015 4:10 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Layered nanocomposites containing tiny structures mixed into a polymer matrix are gaining commercial use, but their complex nature can hide defects that affect performance. Now researchers have developed a system capable of detecting such defects using a "Kelvin probe" scanning method with an atomic force microscope. The ability to look below the surface of nanocomposites represents a potential new quality-control tool for industry. 

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Artificial intelligence systems more apt to fail than destroy

March 23, 2015 1:52 pm | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | Comments

The most realistic risks about the dangers of artificial intelligence are basic mistakes, breakdowns and cyber attacks, an expert in the field says—more so than machines that become super powerful, run amok and try to destroy the human race.

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Catching and releasing tiny molecules

March 23, 2015 1:47 pm | by Paul Karoff, Harvard Univ. | Comments

Employing an ingenious microfluidic design that combines chemical and mechanical properties, a team of Harvard Univ. scientists has demonstrated a new way of detecting and extracting biomolecules from fluid mixtures. The approach requires fewer steps, uses less energy, and achieves better performance than several techniques currently in use and could lead to better technologies for medical diagnostics and chemical purification.

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Chemical fingerprints of ancient supernovae found

March 23, 2015 12:03 pm | by Carnegie Institute | Comments

A Carnegie Institute-based search of nearby galaxies for their oldest stars has uncovered two stars in the Sculptor dwarf galaxy that were born shortly after the galaxy formed, approximately 13 billion years ago. The unusual chemical content of the stars may have originated in a single supernova explosion from the first generation of Sculptor stars.

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Air pollutants could boost potency of common airborne allergens

March 23, 2015 11:43 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

A pair of air pollutants linked to climate change could also be a major contributor to the unparalleled rise in the number of people sneezing and wheezing during allergy season. The gases, nitrogen dioxide and ground-level ozone, appear to provoke chemical changes in certain airborne allergens that could increase their potency. That, in combination with changes in global climate, could explain why airborne allergies are more common.

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Genomewide screen of learning in zebrafish identifies enzyme important in neural circuit

March 23, 2015 11:37 am | by Karen Kreeger, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Pennsylvania describe the first set of genes important in learning in a zebrafish model in Neuron. Using in-depth analysis of one of the genes, the team has revealed an important signaling pathway. According to the researchers, the proteins in this pathway could provide new insights into the development of novel pharmacological targets.

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Have researchers discovered the sound of stars?

March 23, 2015 10:32 am | by David Garner, Senior Press Officer, Univ. of York | Comments

A chance discovery by a team of researchers, including a Univ. of York scientist, has provided experimental evidence that stars may generate sound. The study of fluids in motion goes back to the Egyptians, so it isn’t often that new discoveries are made. However when examining the interaction of an ultra-intense laser with a plasma target, the team observed something unexpected.

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Even at a molecular level, taking it slow helps to cope with stress

March 23, 2015 10:08 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley, scientists have identified a new molecular pathway critical to aging, and confirmed that the process can be manipulated to help make old blood like new again. The researchers found that blood stem cells’ ability to repair damage caused by inappropriate protein folding in the mitochondria, a cell’s energy station, is critical to their survival and regenerative capacity.

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Artificial sweetener could lead to new treatments for aggressive cancers

March 23, 2015 9:58 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Saccharin, the artificial sweetener that is the main ingredient in Sweet 'N Low, Sweet Twin and Necta, could do far more than just keep our waistlines trim. According to new research, this popular sugar substitute could potentially lead to the development of drugs capable of combating aggressive, difficult-to-treat cancers with fewer side effects.

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Superfast computers a step closer to reality

March 23, 2015 9:03 am | by Univ. of Surrey | Comments

The team demonstrated a quantum on/off switching time of about a millionth of a millionth of a second—the fastest-ever quantum switch to be achieved with silicon and over a thousand times faster than previous attempts. The team will  investigate how to connect quantum objects to each other, creating the bigger building blocks needed for quantum computers.

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Satellite imagery can aid development projects

March 23, 2015 8:52 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Projects that target aid toward villages and rural areas in the developing world often face time-consuming challenges, even at the most basic level of figuring out where the most appropriate sites are for pilot programs or deployment of new systems such as solar-power for regions that have no access to electricity. Often, even the sizes and locations of villages are poorly mapped, so time-consuming field studies are needed.

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Sewage could be a source of valuable metals, critical elements

March 23, 2015 8:42 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Poop could be a goldmine, literally. Surprisingly, treated solid waste contains gold, silver and other metals, as well as rare elements such as palladium and vanadium that are used in electronics and alloys. Now researchers are looking at identifying the metals that are getting flushed and how they can be recovered. This could decrease the need for mining and reduce the unwanted release of metals into the environment.

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New membranes deliver clean water more efficiently

March 23, 2015 8:31 am | by Univ. of Melbourne | Comments

Researchers from the Melbourne School of Engineering at the Univ. of Melbourne, in conjunction with CSIRO, have developed new membranes or microfilters that will result in clean water in a much more energy-efficient manner. Published in Advanced Materials, the new membranes will supply clean water for use in desalination and water purification applications.

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Squid-inspired invisibility stickers to protect soldiers

March 23, 2015 8:21 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Squid are the ultimate camouflage artists, blending almost flawlessly with their backgrounds so that unsuspecting prey can't detect them. Using a protein that's key to this process, scientists have designed "invisibility stickers" that could one day help soldiers disguise themselves, even when sought by enemies with tough-to-fool infrared cameras.

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Twisted light increases efficiency of quantum cryptography systems

March 23, 2015 8:03 am | by Leonor Sierra, Univ. of Rochester | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Rochester and their collaborators have developed a way to transfer 2.05 bits per photon by using “twisted light.” This remarkable achievement is possible because the researchers used the orbital angular momentum of the photons to encode information, rather than the more commonly used polarization of light.

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